Pork as a tech product: Why Impossible Foods loves CES

‘We want to explode this bogus mythology that somehow food is not technology.’

Campaign: Impossible Pork
Company: Impossible Foods
Agency partners: Allison+Partners (PR, influencer relations)
Duration: January 6-10

At CES 2020, Impossible Foods debuted its latest product: Impossible Pork.

Strategy
Last year, the company launched Impossible Burger 2.0, a plant-based patty that bleeds like beef, at CES. “We were the first food company ever to be featured,” said Rachel Konrad, Impossible Foods chief communications officer. The experience was a success, so it decided to return, this time to launch its latest product: Impossible Pork, a plant-based pork replacement.

The goal was to make a splash; it planned a media event for January 6, the day before the conference kicked off. Impossible Foods hoped attendees would view its food items as in-line with other product launches on display.

“We want to explode this bogus mythology that somehow food is not technology,” Konrad said.

This meant adopting a timeline in between tech and food launches. CES features cutting-edge technology that “won’t be commercialized for a decade or more,” Konrad said. “We are going to commercialize pork this year, but we wanted to give the people of CES something you couldn’t just go out to a restaurant the next day and just get.”

Tactics
A variety of dishes were served at the media event on January 6 featuring Impossible Pork, including banh mi, char siu buns, dan dan noodles and pork katsu.

During CES itself, Impossible Foods set up a pop-up restaurant. In the morning, it served classic Vietnamese street food, featuring Impossible Pork. After noon, it partnered with White Castle to serve Impossible Burger sliders.

The company worked with more than 70 influencers, including Mari Takahashi, Sonja Reid and Billie Lee. Some stopped by the pop-up restaurant; others attended events, such as a pub quiz dinner.

On social media, Impossible Foods flooded its channels with Impossible Pork-based content, including “food porn shots of steaming dumplings” and clips from a video about the product featuring CEO Patrick Brown. Throughout the event, the company was also “capturing live commentary and reposting stuff from influencers,” Konrad said.

Results
Impossible Foods served more than 10,000 samples of pork at CES, in addition to 1,500 samples of White Castle Impossible Sliders.  

The campaign generated more than 3,100 and 4,200 earned online media and broadcast placements, respectively. Notable coverage included write-ups in by BBC, CNN and the Los Angeles Times. Sentiment was overwhelmingly positive or neutral.

On social media, campaign posts were liked, shared or otherwise engaged with 190,000 times. Meanwhile, content posted by influencers resulted in more than 3,400 link clicks directly to the Impossible Foods website. 

Impossible Foods won a variety of CES awards from trade and consumer outlets, including Tom's Guide’s Best of CES in the Best Food Tech category, Mashable’s Best Tech of CES 2020 awards and Wired’s Best of CES awards for Best of Food.

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