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Marketing Brand Strategy Business Leadership

Gamification, communities and experimentation: where’s food & drink marketing headed?


By Sam Anderson | Network Editor

May 5, 2023 | 6 min read

At a recent roundtable with food, drink and hospitality marketing leaders from The Drum Network, we asked one last question: what’s the one lever brands in this space can pull to stay ahead of the pack?

An apple, with syringes in it

How are marketers pushing forward food & drink brands? / Diana Polekhina via Unsplash

Hannah Evison, client services director, TrunkBBI: “There’s a massive opportunity around the digitization of rewards and loyalty, for both food and drink brands, and in the on-trade. From straight-up gamification to building communities in apps, it’s about adding as much value as you possibly can to your consumer, digitally. Then, even when they leave your venue, or they’re not consuming your goods, you know that they’re being consistent, relentless ambassadors for your brand.

“We’re seeing a huge spike in requests for engagement in pubs and bars. Tesco’s Clubcard is the ultimate gamification piece – people don’t see it as one, but it’s gamification in its most traditional sense. We’re seeing a huge resurgence of this type of activity for food and drink brands and for hospitality venues. The data you’re able to collect from those activities is invaluable. Brands who leverage that customer loyalty keep hold of those customers for a very long time.”

Claudia Stephenson, managing director, EMEA, Invnt Group: “As we delve further into web3, we’re seeing different forms of utility. There was the rise and questionable fall of NFTs, for example. But there’s ongoing utility associated with communities and their cross-pollination; there’s an opportunity to bring together multiple communities and reach a much wider audience for brands, across varied ages and demographics. And let’s not forget about that up-and-coming generation that consumes information in a very different way.”

Ryan Green, vice-president of marketing and innovation, Coegi: “I’d love to mention retail media networks, which are really emerging on the media side and play well with both brand and performance. They’re very data-driven, and there’s going to be more of them with the deprecation of second-party data. We’re talking about taking the Amazon model and doing it across everything from Dollar General to Walmart to Instacart.”

Jackie Keller, vice-president of events and hospitality, Wasserman: “I am still (and always will be) the biggest fan of true-blue hospitality. Brands that are as loyal back to their customers as possible, by making things customizable and convenient, are going to continue to win.

“For example, I’m an American Express customer, and I’m continually blown away by how easy the experience is: how few steps there are and how true they seem to me when I have an issue. I know, when I pick up the phone, that they’re going to help me on the other side. Brands that continue to give loyalty and tried-and-true customer service back will continue to win.”

Ben Ducker, executive creative director, Journey Further: “In terms of brand positioning, it would be dangerous to try to be overly relevant, or overly authentic to the landscape. I think there’s a responsibility for marketers with brands and advertising to not provide escapism, like watching a film. There’s a responsibility to not patronize.

“We live in a society where people are becoming wiser to what brands are trying to push. The key sentiment to building brand platforms has to be about hopefulness: looking forward with optimism at what you’re trying to do. It’s about recognizing that there’s a problem and looking forward to a solution – whether through loyalty schemes, or real interactions with customers.”

Christina Daskajiannis, project manager, Rabbit & Pork (part of TIPi Group): “Brands that can provide customers with a really seamless, enjoyable experience – like just walk out tech, launched by Amazon, and you’re now seeing it in sports stadiums, like St. Louis City SC’s integrated stadium, where fans can walk into the bar and out again in 10 seconds. It’s about using automation, taking pressure off staff, and providing a really easy, convenient brand experience.”

Vince Murray, head of partnerships, GreenJinn Ltd: “One brand we work with that does things really well is Heinz. They split their business: they’ve got a ‘core’ part of the business – beans, ketchup, mayo – where they play quite safe in terms of marketing, spend, creative and technology. Then they’ve got a completely separate arm, ‘New Ventures’, where they test new technology, really wacky NPD [new product development], and interesting creative. They use that as a testbed; if they see ROI, in New Ventures, they transfer it across to the core part of business as well. Heinz is definitely up there.”

Marketing Brand Strategy Business Leadership

Content created with:


GreenJinn is a triple-digit growth UK platform for connecting great consumable brands with relevant consumers. Through our platform we work with some of the most exciting and cutting-edge brands to help them drive awareness, increase trial and get access to real-time, detailed consumer insights they can’t find anywhere else.

GreenJinn started in 2017 with our intuitive mobile app which has grown to a community of 1M members with an App store rating of 4.7. Our partner brands offer cashback incentives to consumers to try their products which can be bought in most UK retailers. We support the brands awareness strategy with communications out to our community, across multiple touch points.

Our unique technology has evolved to help brands make their media more effective. GreenJinn Treasure was born out of many brands' frustrations with a lack of transparency of effectiveness of media spend. Our GreenJinn Treasure coupon technology plugs-in to any online or physical media (via a link for online or QR code for physical media), gives consumers an incentive to pick up the product instore and tracks full funnel media performance from impression right through to redemption in store. The best bit - we give brands access to a suite of live insights; consumer demographics, shopper, category and store level insights along with GJ Treasure campaign conversion funnel data.

Sound exciting? We think so. And so do our brands.

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TrunkBBI is an award-winning integrated agency made up of 70 specialist thinkers, creators, analysts, influencers and technologists. Inspired by insights, we’re a place that puts creatives and activation specialists together — storytellers and strategists, designers and data scientists. We capture your audience in the perfect moment with perfect content, producing startling results.

With offices across the north and a presence in 47 markets globally, we have a reputation for our distinctive content rich campaigns across paid, owned and earned channels.

We’ve developed our own unique methodology to improve effectiveness across short-term sales activation and long-term brand building, reduce wastage and provide brands with one centralised approach and team.

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INVNT®. The global live brand storytelling agency™.

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Coegi is an independent digital agency providing services across digital strategy, media buying, paid social, search and influencer campaigns. We bring together people, platforms and tech partners to create custom marketing solutions focused on your business results.

While pioneering the programmatic landscape since 2014, Coegi has executed thousands of campaigns for over 400 brands and agencies across all digital channels.

With an agnostic approach to data and technology, Coegi’s team of digital experts offers Fortune 500 solutions for agencies and brands of every size for every vertical and objective.

Coegi makes digital marketing easy through an all-in-one partnership that strives to deliver flawless campaigns while empowering their partners to become smarter marketers in a constantly-evolving digital world.

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Wasserman is a global sports, entertainment, and lifestyle marketing agency with expertise in creating connections between brands, properties, talent, and consumers.

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Journey Further

Journey Further is a performance brand agency based in Leeds, Manchester, London and New York.

Designed to deliver Clarity at Speed for the world’s leading brands and ambitious start-ups, the agency connects clients directly with a senior team, working in real-time and with complete transparency to deliver previously unthinkable results.

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TIPi Group

TIPi Group is an award winning network of specialist digital agencies. Our agencies are built on performance and profitability and share an ambition to use the power of digital to shape the future.

At TIPi Group we believe that passion beats scale. We ensure that each agency model retains a certain size, ensuring that no one is lost in the business and that no service levels are diluted: whether that be staff, client or product. Everyone at the TIPi Group remains at the forefront of the business, with a dedicated, authentic focus on our clients’ success.

Through our network, we can create bespoke teams to handle our clients’ business challenges, delivering authentic integration and impactful results on every level.

Our network of agencies consists of:

ROAST, who specialise in Digital Performance + Media

Kitty, who specialise in Web Design and Development

Rabbit & Pork, who specialise in Voice Experience, connecting brands and consumers through voice search and smart-speakers

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