Wolff Olins flips junk food marketing on its head for activist group identity

Bite Back’s new identity and brand voice chews up and spits out junk food tropes to help it fight against an unfair food system.

Wolff Olins has rebranded youth activist network Bite Back, “subverting the tropes” of junk food marketing to bring “attitude and swagger” to its identity.

Bite Back – which is supported by the Jamie Oliver Foundation – started in 2019 and now comprises 10,000 activists around the UK, predominantly aged between 14-18. Bite Back chief executive officer James Toop describes the network’s mission as “changing the narrative around food and sharing the truth about the food system”.  He believes that the food system is currently “rigged against us” and that young people are paying the price, so Bite Back is calling out “food giants” and urging them to “act responsibly and stop driving an epidemic in food-related ill-health”.

Toop tasked Wolff Olins with helping the activist network “stand out, grow up and move to a more serious phase” to put it on the radar of government and corporate companies, says Wolff Olins executive strategy director David Stevens. He defined Bite Back’s aim as raising the issue that there are “no good options for children” and that it often makes “more economic sense” to go for unhealthy foods.

Stevens describes the previous identity as “a little bit problematic”, because it signalled Bite Back as “a charity asking for handouts to better feed children”, rather than an activist group putting pressure on “government and corporates” to market healthy choices better. Avoiding insinuations that it is about “individual choice” and that young people must choose better food for themselves was a challenge, says Stevens. Instead, the studio focused on “dramatising the flood of junk that surrounds people” and the “sinister feel” of how it is marketed to children, he adds.

The old identity was also “too young” for the target market of 14–18-year-olds and needed more “attitude and swagger” while conveying a sense of responsibility, according to Stevens. Much of this attitude now comes from the Bite Back logo, a towering mouth poised to bite.

Wolff Olins worked with animation studio Animade to bring the mouth expressions to life, by augmenting  the act of biting back. Bite Back plans to use the animations mainly across its social media channels.

The new logo’s “anarchic subversive feel” comes from Wolff Olins’ idea to “turn tactics of junk food marketing against them”, says Stevens, which is also evident across the typography choices and colour palette. In his view, junk food marketing is “often extremely childish with cartoon characters, bright colours and charming puns about indulging yourself”.

Freely available licenced fonts “that high street chain restaurants may or may not take inspiration from” have been given their own unique names, including Fried Serif, Sugar Rush Round, and Cereal Script and are employed throughout the identity. “In subverting the tropes of marketing, we have to be careful not to infringe any copywrites, so all similarities to any fast-food fonts you might see out there are totally incidental”, Stevens notes.

Also inspired by junk food tropes, Bite Back’s colour palette features hues like Deep-Fried Yellow, Unlicensed Mauve, and Chicken Shop Red, which Stevens describes as “the hunger-driving red that so many brands use”. Wolff Olins have reserved “unusual colours”, such as mint green, for more positive messaging, setting “the voice of the activists” apart from “the voice against the corporates”, says Stevens.

For the brand voice, he explains how Wolff Olins adopted “the language of food” through metaphors, including “playing with your food”, “biting back”, and “biting of more than they can chew”. The idea is that it will be very straight forward for the activists to “cook up their own language in future”, he adds.

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  • Garech Stone September 29, 2023 at 8:42 am

    Is this the same Wolff Olins that standardised McDonald’s Golden Arches in 2011?

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