NEVER RETURN AN EMPTY PLATE
...and what this has to do with a creative agency
Inspiration or an insight?
Countless times we had sat and done the brainstorming for our client, Dijamant company, and thought about the brand perception, as well as about what the food means to us. Each time we would end up concluding the same thing – food is much more than a mere physiological need, food means emotions. With this idea on our minds, couple of years ago we „created“ a restaurant where the dishes were named after the emotions that are most frequently expressed, and food for the guests was prepared by their close ones. In this video, which was part of the “Love gets mixed into everything” campaign, you can see how a dish named „we miss you for a month, and then you come up“ looks like.
Given the emotional response that we triggered with this project, we wanted to deepen the story. We were seeking to create a platform out of a short-term project, whereon we would continue to work constantly in the upcoming years.
After we confirmed that within a family we understand tacitly one another through the food, we were curious whether the language spoken by the food exists as well beyond the family relationships and what could happen if we take a plate full of cookies to our neighbors. We came up with this idea after COVID, which reminded us what it means to live under the same roof as well as that the neighbors are people closest to us.
We realized that all the inspiration needed lies in the proverb – Never return an empty dish. Convinced that this phrase was coined long time ago, among some neighbors who exchanged cookie plates, we were curious whether the plates are still exchanged, whether the neighbors still hang around and lean on one another and how important the role of food in their community is. It was clear to us that we want to find the best neighborhood in Serbia.
We wanted to remind the people of a forgotten sense of community, especially in the buildings! To recollect what it means to live under the same roof and that the neighbors are more than just some people we nod to in the elevator. We gave a long thought to the way we should do this, and suddenly it hit us…
Through the lens of a young boy who moves into a new building and observes the neighbor relationships between the residents, we were seeking to describe different relationships which happen in the residential buildings. The entire communication is based on a plate with cookies circulating the building, through which we gain an insight into the human relationships in that neighborhood – and to see how our main protagonist started everything, please watch the video.
The fact that we hit it right is confirmed by a large number of positive comments that we received on social networks after sharing this video, as well as by the great deal of people willing to share the lovely stories from their neighborhood, as it turned out later on.
And so our activation started!
By sharing this video to the Facebook, Instagram and YouTube social networks, as well as by distributing over 5000 posters and flyers throughout Serbia’s cities, we have inspired the neighbors to revive their communities, to bond and learn for good the emotional language which the food speaks. Also, the influencers gladly responded to our call and supported the campaign, by contributing to its visibility.
We created a digital platform which provided all the information regarding the competition, the application form, as well as many cookie recipes that are gladly shared with the loved ones.
Competition itself was organized in two stages. In the first one, the buildings applied to participate by answering the question why exactly is their neighborhood the best one. Over 50 residential communities applied with around 300 apartments and even more neighbors from Subotica, Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Belgrade, Kragujevac, Niš, Leskovac and many other cities.
Our posts on social networks reached 800 thousand people, whereas the YouTube video was viewed more than million times. The website usvesemesa.rs counted over 83 thousand visits.
Winners of the first stage were awarded the gift boxes containing, among other things, a branded plate, which was supposed to circulate the neighborhood as a symbol of unity, good relations and tradition. On that occasion we met some beautiful people who nourish the good neighbor relationships, and who know that a dish should never be returned empty!
First stage of the competition had 36 winners, who qualified automatically to the second stage. Their next task was to show us how they hang out with their neighbors, what the food they exchange the most is and how they used the articles from the gift box that we sent.
Almost all the participants from stage one turned up for the new task. The result was an abundance of beautiful photos where neighbor interactions and unity is clearly displayed. We had a difficult task ahead of us – choosing a winner and announcement of the best neighborhood in Serbia.
Where is the best neighborhood in Serbia located?
Competition was officially closed on November 14, 2022, and all the applications that arrived until that date were taken into account. By carefully reading the applications and reviewing the sent photos, and taking into account the rulebook and criteria set in advance, the residential building in 64 Kisačka Street in Novi Sad was proclaimed the best neighborhood in Serbia. The winning neighborhood has over 40 households within the residential community, everyone hangs out and are very much close to one another, which was shown at the party organized as part of the gift by the Dijamant company. The atmosphere from that evening was captured in video recording and photographs.
As cherry on the cake (the one we gladly share with our neighbors as well), this campaign won the UEPS award for the integrated promotional campaign.
This campaign gathered 3 agencies and over 20 people, including the legal department of Dijamant company. Hours of creative and project activities were invested, hours and hours of material were recorded, which spent almost as much time in editing.
Was it hard? – Yes!
Would we do it again? – Absolutely!