Instacart proves it can even deliver to places where food is forbidden, such as the VMAs

Droga5 creative director Maria Lee shares the inside story on Instacart’s stunt at the MTV event.

Chloe Fineman at the VMAS
Loophole: Food can be brought into the VMAs as long as it is part of a dress. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

NEWARK, NJ: Like most awards shows, MTV’s Video Music Awards has a “no outside food” policy, which means that attendees and celebrities get pretty hungry at the three-hour-plus event. 

Remember when Melissa McCarthy secretly handed out ham sandwiches to Golden Globes attendees in 2019?

“Attendees get desperate,” said Droga5 creative director Maria Lee.

Using that insight, Instacart saw an opportunity to step in and save the day at the VMAs on Sunday by helping Saturday Night Live’s Chloe Fineman wear a dress to the event that was actually an ad for the grocery delivery app

In a campaign supported by Droga5, Fineman was able to hack the VMA’s food-and-beverage rules with her outfit, which was created by designers ThreeAsFour. Her dress included jelly-bean-shaped pouches full of chips, candy and dried fruit, which she handed out as she made her way down the VMAs black carpet. 

“At the VMAs, [celebrities] start to get playful and weird when it comes to red-carpet-moment fashion,” said Lee. “When we look at what celebrities are wearing, it gets bizarre, [such as] Lady Gaga wearing a meat dress and Britney Spears bringing in ginormous snakes.” 

Lee said that Instacart was able to find a loophole: anything can be brought into the show as long as it is part of an outfit.

“That’s how we were able to deliver celebrities' favorite snacks to the show,” said Lee.

She added that Fineman didn’t get in trouble with event organizers for the stunt. Instacart’s goal was to “have an online presence and be able to infiltrate the social conversation that happens around the VMAs,” Lee explained. 

The idea for the dress came together in just three weeks. Typically, it takes five months for a red carpet dress to be designed. ThreeAsFour was able to make the dress in a week and a half. 

“ThreeAsFour has pieces in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” said Lee. “[We tasked them with making] an interesting garment that is playful and weird that is the embodiment of a cart full of snacks. They gravitated toward candy and chip-packaging materials and building compartments into the garment.” 

Instacart picked Fineman to wear the dress because she is stylish, weird, playful and has a good sense of humor. 

“[Fineman] likes to have fun on social and doesn’t take things too seriously,” said Lee. “She fit the vibe of this perfectly.”

Instacart tweeted in real-time during the VMAs.

The brand also shared Fineman's social media posts from the show.

“Instacart being a sponsor of the VMAs had a good relationship with MTV, so MTV spotlighted our activations on the red carpet,” said Lee. “We tapped into that and were able to secure an exclusive interview for [Fineman]. No one knew she would be handing out snacks. She was also able to talk about the dress, the designer and Instacart.”

Instacart hopes to continue to use the dress to generate buzz and possibly showcase it at exhibits, with the hope of it eventually ending up in a museum, said Lee.

“[ThreeAsFour] has an upcoming Fashion Week show, so we are seeing if we can continue the partnership and find other crazy ways to bring Instacart to life,” Lee said.

ThreeAsFour has also been working on another Instacart dress, but it is still to be determined what happens with that.

The VMAs dress stunt was part of a larger campaign Instacart kicked off during the show, called The World Is Your Cart, featuring Lizzo. A spot for the campaign ran during the VMAs.

“The idea behind this campaign is that anything is possible; from pet stuff to kid stuff to makeup, Instacart can deliver everything to you wherever you are,” said Lee. “That even includes places where food is forbidden; we are able to find a way to get them delivered to you, so that is the larger messaging.”

Budget information was not disclosed. 


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