Anniversary Special: Society Takes a Different Approach to Celebrating Its Birthday

As it turned three-quarters of a century old, the Institute of Food Technologists didn’t want to send out the usual press release announcement. Instead, IFT developed a public awareness campaign around an important and challenging issue in its industry.

The board game Monopoly turns 80 years old this year. To help mark its birthday, the game’s producer, Hasbro, put real money into 80 game sets in France, with one game containing the equivalent of the Monopoly bank: 20,580 euros.

“We wanted to do something unique,” Florence Gaillard, brand manager at Hasbro France, told Agence France-Presse about the anniversary. “When we asked our French customers, they told us they wanted to find real money in their Monopoly boxes.”

When it came time to mark its 75th anniversary last year, the Institute of Food Technologists also wanted to do something unique, something different than the usual celebratory fanfare. (An approach PR pro Adele Cehrs advised during an interview for her newly published book, SPIKE Your Brand ROI: How to Maximize Reputation and Get Results.)

We see this as an important investment in terms of the story of the science of food but also science in general.

“We wanted to tackle an issue that was very challenging rather than have a traditional 75th anniversary celebration,” said Jerry Bowman, IFT vice president of communications. “So, we looked at the key challenges out there, and a big challenge is that we have to feed 9 billion people by 2050. And nobody’s really talking about how we’re going to do it.”

IFT came up with the FutureFood 2050 initiative, a year-long public awareness campaign that will culminate this summer at the 75th IFT annual meeting.

The first part of the two-part initiative is a series of 75 stories focused on food issues, innovations, and solutions-based approaches to the challenge of feeding a growing population. The articles feature interviews with 75 different voices, including researchers, industry experts, policy makers, activists, and consumers.

The second part is a documentary that will premiere to the public next year by Academy Award-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy. “We wanted to work with Scott because he has an incredibly compelling style,” Bowman said. “We wanted someone who could independently take a good look at the issue of science and food and really show how many divergent issues that there are and really focus on how we’re going to feed the planet in the coming decades.”

Both the written articles and documentary fit with IFT’s role as a scientific society. “Part of our role as a nonprofit is education,” Bowman said. “So, we see this as an important investment in terms of the story of the science of food but also science in general.”

To spark even more discussion, the group, which has about 17,000 members worldwide, has also hosted panel discussions featuring innovative and creative speakers addressing food issues with some of its chapters.

“Overall, among the documentary, the articles, and some of the more public discussions, we feel like we need to have a greater dialogue that’s based on science and solutions,” Bowman said. “We feel all these channels are going to offer us this opportunity.”

Has your association celebrated an anniversary with a unique initiative, campaign, or marketing push? Let us know in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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