When it comes to raising awareness for important causes, the phrase “walk a mile in their shoes” may be easier said than done. Yet, oftentimes helping consumers experience issues can be the most eye-opening information of all. One food brand is doing just that – transforming grocery stores into food deserts.


Hellmann’s mayonnaise brand is tackling a widespread but not widely understood issue in Canada: food deserts. Through the “Real Food Movement” campaign, the brand is helping consumers understand the plight of one in five Canadians who currently live in food deserts – areas where fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthful foods are inaccessible or expensive. And although the issue is commonplace, only 50 percent of Canadians know the term, according to a survey conducted by Hellmann’s. To help consumers understand, Hellmann’s created a grocery store to reflect a food desert, with empty shelves, limited produce and high prices; shoppers entering the store were shocked by what they saw. To amplify the conversation, Hellmann’s is encouraging consumers to share how much they pay for tomatoes using the hashtag #MyTomato on social media. Consumers can also sign a petition to help Canadians get access to healthful food through the brand’s Facebook page. Hellmann’s will also be donating $75,000 to the Northern Farm Training Institute to fund greenhouse construction to create long-term food solutions.

Similar to Whole Food’s use of empty grocery shelves to raise awareness for Colony Collapse Disorder, Hellmann’s bold move shows consumers just what it’s like to live in a food desert. Complementing the experiential aspect with a social media component allows consumers to share their experiences and foster a broader conversation around the issue, because although a picture may be worth a thousand words, an experience can be worth so much more.

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