Our project addresses the themes of trust, information credibility and the relationship between fads and crises. We are using food safety and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as target issues because the information surrounding them is notoriously hyperbolic and their proponents are stereotypically ill-informed or easily persuaded.
We are creating a pseudo-scientific food safety product, Spekkl, that targets overtly health-conscious parents—mommies and daddies actively anti-GMO blogging and shopping. The caregiving and protective nature of these parents makes them an especially susceptible audience within the realm of food safety.
Works of satire and designed hoaxes were influential to the way we approached our project.
Carrot Dan Angelucci
Audio Tooth Implant Auger
Bhopal Disaster The Yes Men
Finding a topic: Our team was interested in food because it is a necessity to life, and therefore can ignite highly controversial futures. We began to look at large, evil food manufacturers like Monsanto and the anti-GMO movement as starting points for areas of conflict.
Deciding an angle: We chose to, rather than pick a side of the GMO issue, use the topic as a method of critiquing the naivety of those that buy/write/discuss in reaction to it. We decided on a near-future scenario that would bring the issues of credibility and trust to a more believable, and possibly shocking, reality.
Creating a product and brand: We used our strengths as industrial and communication designers to build believable prototypes, renders and online content for the fake product. We believed these elements to be essential to creating a convincing project. The product’s form was inspired by products that are similarly trusted by our audience: baby thermometers and infrared meat thermometers. The brand materials such as logo, color and pattern were created to be friendly and relate to our key audience of parents.
Developing brand language and communications: Online content and our audience-reaching methods of website and marketing e-mails relied on fine-tuned language that delivered approachable authority. Again, realness was key. Our email marketing was sent to the food safety and wellness blogosphere, complete with a thank you coupon and link to the official product press release on the product website.
Response: An important part of the project is witnessing and recording how participants react to the fake product. We will send the email to our blogger list in the coming days and wait to see what their response is. We will be keeping track of pre-orders on the Spekkl website to understand the number of people who seem to believe and want to own the product.
Throughout the project we have more clearly come to understand that it’s too easy to make fake things. We haven’t confirmed that people will believe our product, but the process to make a pretty convincing, bogus product was fast and simple. We used free or cheap online services to build a functioning website and marketing email. This makes us question the responsibility held by designers and the power we put in their hands. Do we feel evil? Not really, but we’re a little scared by potential susceptibility of our audience.