Food delivery isn't just about fulfilling a physical need; it's primarily emotional. LA creative agency Mother has taken that idea and run with it in its campaign for Postmates featuring the work of top artists.
Founded in 2011 and acquired by Uber in 2020, Postmates is a food delivery service for restaurant-prepared meals and other goods. Headquartered in San Francisco, it operates in thousands of US cities in direct competition with Grubhub, DoorDash, and its own sister service, Uber Eats.
If humans were sensible, rational creatures, then most of us would rarely use a food delivery service: it's far more economical to cook or shop for it ourselves. So, advertising for these platforms generally aims to bypass the logical part of our brains by appealing instead to our emotions.
Much of the time, this kind of creative just aims to stimulate the appetite. But other work is more subtle and interesting. And the new campaign for Postmates led by independent LA creative agency Mother falls right into that category.
Enter the artist's brain
Entitled 'This Is Your Brain on Food', this trippy campaign illustrates the powerful spectrum of emotions you experience when you indulge in the food you crave. Because no food feeling is the same, Mother tapped different artists to interpret what your brain experiencing food might look like, ranging from boba tea to doughnuts.
"This Is Your Brain on Food" spans short films, influencer partnerships, traditional OOH, and two commissioned OOH murals from LA artists. Every aspect of the campaign conveys that spot-on feeling each food elicits.
The series of five 15-second short films respectively features doughnuts, hot chicken, sushi, boba, soup dumplings and BBQ. These spots are currently rolling out on digital platforms across social channels, including TikTok, Instagram, X and Snapchat, where they're accompanied by a unique filter for users.
Traditional OOH is also appearing across Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, featuring visuals from the short films.
The integrated campaign features popular food items from select local merchants available on the platform across Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. It aims to illustrate the experience that Postmates delivers: how the food that you crave – a chemical reaction wired to your brain – unlocks a distinct, visceral feeling when you take your first bite.
The spots feature a range of creative techniques. For example, Boba, created by multi-hyphenate artist Laurie Rowan, uses 3D CGI animation with 2D embellishments to recreate the sensory experience of drinking a flavoursome boba tea.
Meanwhile, Howlin, created by animation filmmaker Veronica Solomon and animation director/painter Gustaf Holtenäs., harnesses clay animation to depict the story of Keith, a rather unremarkable motorcycle driver, and his journey to becoming the legendary flying biker Diablo, powered by the magic hot chicken he ate.
Soup Dumplings, created by Emmy-nominated directing team Shynola, uses a mix of 3D and 2D techniques to open a window into a cute, magical land where a character rides a steam-hot geyser of broth into the sky in a state of satiated bliss.
Also, by Shynola, BBQ sees a ravenous monster rip open the head of the actress, roaring in hunger before taking a greedy swipe at the delicious meet with its claws. But while the monster was animated traditionally, the creators used a bespoke technique to mirror the look of a celluloid scratch film. The animation frames were organised into 'contact sheets' and printed onto paper. Each one was painstakingly scratched onto sheets of acetate Shynola had prepared with acrylic spray, and then every acetate was fed into a high-resolution scanner and recompiled into animation.
Sushi, created by Lina Reidarsdotter Källström and Louise Silfversparre of Double Up Studio, represents the luxurious feeling you get when eating really good sushi and features a pearl coming to life, setting the world in motion, and guiding sushi-inspired shapes through a dance filled with sparkles and twirls. It was made using Cinema4D and Octane. Finally, Donuts, featuring Austin, Texas merchant The Salty, was created by illustrator and animator Angela Kirkwood.
Eating is emotional
Nexus Design Studio, the motion design division of production partner Nexus Studios, helped to identify the artists for the campaign.
"It was a perfect design challenge to communicate the sensation of food through stories across different animated styles," says Creative Director Harry Butt. "Some experiences are universal; for example, what the heat of spicy food feels like. But capturing how a sugar rush feels means different things to different people. We went incredibly specific, with the aim of delivering something everyone can relate to."
"People are passionate about their food choices because eating is an emotional experience," adds Dave Estrada, creative director at Mother. "What you eat says a lot about the headspace you're in or want to be in. We created these little expressions, these little worlds that remind us what it feels like to eat that thing you love from the spots you love the most. Postmates celebrates that trip with you every time you get the food you crave, which can be almost euphoric."
Along with the ads, Postmates has also commissioned OOH murals from renowned Los Angeles artists Akiko Stehrenberger, visualising your brain on Nashville Hot Chicken, and Jen Stark, visualising your brain on Boba Tea.
You can see the murals in Hollywood (on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd & Wilton Place), at Cafe Carrera, West Hollywood (Melrose Ave & Harper) and in downtown LA (on the corner of East 8th Ave and S. Los Angeles Street near the Fashion District).
Further content from TikTok stars @domenicaaq and @itsbridgettebitch is planned for later this month, in which each provides their artistic takes on how food makes them feel.