Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

“It’s not your fault you can’t resist!” How one campaign called out the food industry’s marketing tactics [Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

October 29, 2021

Across a lot of platforms, we are surrounded by cues to consume unhealthy food… and young people are most affected by this issue. 

According to data from youth-led campaigning organization Bite Back 2030, 70% of children are influenced by the marketing industry to buy food products that cause obesity. 

What did the organization do to address this concern and raise awareness about people’s unhealthy food choices?

In September 2019, Bite Back 2030 launched a digital guerrilla marketing campaign called… 

It’s Not Your Fault You Can’t Resist!” 

Conceptualized with the help of marketing agency Don’t Panic London, the campaign was an invitation for young people to join the call for the food industry to put consumers’ health first before profit. 

The Social Experiment 

Bite Back 2030 and Don’t Panic London invited 8 teenagers to a restaurant for what each believed was the start of a social experiment. What they didn’t know was it was actually the end of it! 

Here’s why: 

A week before the invitation, the campaign team worked on a series of outdoor ads that contained photos of mouth-watering Triple Dipped Chicken and placed them on areas teenagers would notice. 

This meant prior to the restaurant invite, the ads were already doing their magic to manipulate teenagers’ food choices… and little did these consumers know that they were falling into the trap! 

At this point, the campaign team was highlighting the power the food marketing industry has over consumers’ choices. 

Fast forward to the day of the invite… 

As each of the 8 teenagers sat down to order a meal, a member of the campaign team (disguised as a waiter) handed them the menu together with a white envelope. The waiter requested that the envelope be opened only after the teenagers had placed their orders. 

The subjects of the social experiment scrolled through the menu that contained 50 dishes. Interestingly, all of them chose the same meal: Triple Dipped Chicken. 

The social experiment was working! 

After placing their orders, the teenagers opened the white envelopes they received. 

Once they read the message in the envelope, their eyes opened wide and some even gasped out of shock! 

What happened? 

The message stated that the restaurant knew the teenagers would pick the Triple Dipped Chicken out of all the items on the menu. 

This gave the subjects of the social experiment the chills! They said they wanted to pick healthier options on the menu but they couldn’t resist the enticing Triple Dipped Chicken and so they had to order it. 

It was only after this stage that the entire campaign was revealed. The teenagers couldn’t believe all the ads they saw for a week were part of the experiment. 

The videos of the social experiment were compiled into a 2-minute and 26-second video and uploaded on YouTube as a digital guerrilla marketing campaign. 

Was Bite Back 2030’s “It’s Not Your Fault You Can’t Resist” campaign effective? 

The film featured no actors, staged reactions, and scripted responses―just the power of manipulation young people are unconsciously exposed to on a day-to-day basis. 

According to Rick Dodds, a Creative Partner at Don’t Panic London, 

“The reactions from the teens in the experiment were a rollercoaster. At first they were amazed, even delighted that we had managed to predict what they would choose out of the 50 items on the menu. Then amazement turned into shock at how they had been manipulated.” 

These were the results of the campaign: 

  • After a week, the “It’s Not Your Fault You Can’t Resist” YouTube video garnered over 735,000 views. 
  • The campaign earned coverage from different media outlets like the Washington Post, BBC, Shots, CreativeBrief, etc. 
  • More than 5,000 social media users followed Bite Back 2030’s Instagram account and pledged to join the healthy food movement after watching the campaign. 

What else? 

Even Richard Curtis, CBE, a British screenwriter, film producer, and director, was amazed after watching the campaign video! He said, 

“That is a great film. I was sent it recently and immediately found myself talking to people about it.” 

Isn’t that one of the goals of guerrilla marketing―to get people to talk about your brand? In this case, the “It’s Not Your Fault You Can’t Resist” campaign achieved that. 

Congratulations, Bite Back 2030 and Don’t Panic London! 

The campaign is an example of how young people are stepping up and making their voices heard. The key message? 

It’s not your fault to want to have a healthy snack but somehow be drawn towards that triple-cooked chips or beer-battered cod on the menu. Rather, the food marketing industry should change the tantalizing way meals are marketed. 

As a business owner or marketer, what issues are you and your brand willing to address to let your target market know that you care for them and their well-being? 

Think about that now and plan an engaging, fun, and creative out-of-the-box strategy to get your message across. 

Who knows? Your next guerrilla marketing tactic might be key to get your target market talking about your brand to their family, friends, and colleagues without forcing them to do so. 

Get inspired with Bite Back 2030’s campaign! 

It’s about time you think of your own unconventional and engaging strategy to market your brand and create a lasting and positive brand recall in your target market’s minds. 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Friday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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