In the UK, 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year, of which 900,000 comes from the food service and hospitality sectors*. Considering the numbers living on the street or in poverty, that is a statistic which needs to be addressed, something that location-based marketing company xAd aims to do with its challenge at Do It Day.
This year at Do It Day, the one day of the year the marketing community is invited to work together to change the world, xAd will challenge the creative teams taking part to devise a system which will use its geo-location technology to help deliver leftover food from partnering brands to aid local food shelters.
This will be the first time that the agency has rolled out its Location for Good CSR programme to the UK. It is already well known in the US for its work around Amber Alert, a service xAd runs in partnership with the Federation of Internet Alerts (FIA). This initiative offers advertising inventory to inform phone users of a missing child within their vicinity in order to encourage them to be aware and report anything they see. The alert includes a photograph and the latest information on the missing child, which can be updated in real-time without the need for sending further alerts.
“That is our way of leveraging the innovations in digital and data to save lives and be used for general good,” explains Julie Fairclough, marketing director for xAd. “What we wanted to do was find a platform for Location for Good to inspire people and Do it Day was a brilliant fit,” she said of the company’s involvement with the event, which gets underway with Plan It Day in London on 29 September.
Of the Do It Day challenge around food waste, Daniel Warner, supply and data partnerships director, EMEA, says: “There is a lot of wasted food and a lot of hungry people. The charities we have spoken to have said the real issue is the logistics between getting that food to the people who need it. People seem keen to want to help and get involved but there is a technology layer that is missing that allows it to bring it together. It’s an xAd technology that can help.
"The plan for us is to get people to use xAd technology to understand where footfall has been greater or lower in particular areas down to specific restaurants or sandwich shops. How do we then make sure that there is a system behind that insight and new data-set which we haven’t had before that gets that food from those places to those who need it?”
Fairclough admits that the project won’t reduce food waste to zero, but that it could help many lives in its undertaking. “It’s about supply and demand. We are trying to help retailers identify where the demand is from people who need this kind of support and we want to use our location technology in order to achieve that. What we also want to do is throw the challenge out there and see how the marketing community can go about solving it.”
She identifies out of home as one advertising platform that could be used to drive awareness of the excess food being available, but reiterates the time imperative of getting the food to those who need it while still fresh, making it very much a localised issue.
Warner adds his belief that businesses “have a responsibility” to help reduce food waste while improving the lives of those in need locally.
“The localness of this is important and I would like to hope that the brands that are on board with us are rewarded in the most open way possible and that we can celebrate that particular sandwich shop which has given the most away and reduced the waste that store throws out.
"How does the general public start to find out about Pret’s great work in this space and what does that look like eventually? What sort of partnership does that look like between xAd, the homeless community, the brand and the general public. For me, I want the idea that food waste being reduced and becoming something that we celebrate as a country and a city.”
Plan it Day, when this challenge and several others will be set, will take place in London on 29 September. Further details including all of this year's challenges on the event can be found at the official Do It Day website.
*Statistics from Love Food Hate Waste