Creative Postmates Creative Works

Postmates taps LA artists to illustrate dramatic depictions of food cravings


By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

September 21, 2023 | 6 min read

From animated shorts to colorful murals, ‘This is Your Brain on Food’ brings to life our most visceral responses to everything edible.

postmates campaign

Some artists' depictions are equally delectable and dramatic. / Credit: Postmates

From the chewy bliss of boba to a fiery bite into Nashville hot chicken, consuming food isn’t just for sustenance. It’s a dynamic experience that elicits strong emotions within all of us.

Tapping into this food phenomenon is delivery pioneer Postmates with its most recent marketing push, ‘This is Your Brain on Food,’ which rolls out throughout September. Spanning short films, influencer partnerships and commissioned out-of-home murals by LA artists, every aspect of the integrated campaign cements Postmates as the brand that satisfies the most extreme cravings.

“We loved the idea that eating certain foods can trigger full-body experiences ranging from euphoria to comfort to even a kind of pleasurable pain (think Nashville hot chicken),” explained David Kim, executive creative director of Postmates. “And that these could be summoned on demand through our app.”

Below is a major component of the campaign: a series of five animated short films created by nine different artists. The artists were enlisted to create – in their distinct style – a film showing how various food items affect the senses; they include boba, donuts, hot chicken, soup dumplings, sushi and BBQ and are running across TikTok, Instagram, X and Snapchat, alongside a unique filter for users.

Multi-hyphenate artist Laurie Rowan created the following Boba short with 3D CGI and 2D embellishments, replicating the sensory experience of drinking a flavorsome, floral boba tea. In the ad, a boba-headed skater leads viewers through a bustling and bright boba city as spheres of tapioca pop right and left.

Jen Stark, a Los Angeles artist known for public art, also painted boba-themed out-of-home murals in two Los Angeles locations: one in West Hollywood at 8251 Melrose Ave and another in Hollywood, at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Wilton Place.

postmates campaign

Angela Kirkwood, an illustrator and animator, created the below Donut short, which seems to take visual cues from 1990s cartoons.

Below is an ad for Howlin’ Rays, a Nashville hot chicken joint in Los Angeles. Co-created by animation filmmaker Veronica Solomon and director-painter Gustaf Holtenäs, this clay animation short depicts the story of Keith, an ordinary motorcycle driver, who becomes the legendary flying biker Diablo through the magic hot chicken he ate.

It also includes the below hot chicken-inspired mural by Akiko Stehrenberger, which currently resides at the corner of East 8th Ave and S Los Angeles Street in Downtown LA.

howlin rays mural

The Soup Dumplings short, featuring Austin-based local merchant Bao’d Up, is the work of the Emmy-nominated directing team Shynola. The film utilized a mix of 3D and 2D techniques to create a window into a whimsical land where a character gets so satiated by his soup that he rides a steam-hot geyser of broth into the sky.

Created by Lina Reidarsdotter Källström and Louise Silfversparre of Double Up Studio using Cinema4D and Octane, the Sushi short represents the luxurious feeling one gets when eating really good sushi and features a pearl coming to life, setting the world in motion, and guiding sushi-inspired shapes through a dance filled with sparkles and twirls.

Also created by Shynola, the final film in the sequence, devoted to barbecue, sees a ravenous monster rip open the head of the actor, roaring in hunger before taking a greedy swipe at the delicious meet with its claws. While the monster was animated traditionally, Shynola used a bespoke technique to mirror the look of scratched celluloid film. The animation frames were organized into ‘contact sheets’ and printed on to paper. Shynola says each acetate cell was painstakingly scratched on to sheets of acetate the team had prepared with acrylic spray. Finally, each cell was fed into a high-resolution scanner and recompiled into animation.

Nexus Design Studio, the motion design arm of production company Nexus Studios, helped identify the nine artists and assisted in bringing their animated VFX films to fruition.

“It was a perfect design challenge to communicate the sensation of food through stories across different animated styles, said Harry Butt, creative director, Nexus Design Studio,” said Harry Butt, creative director at Nexus Design Studio. “Some experiences are universal, for example, what the heat of spicy food feels like, but capturing how a sugar rush feels means different things to different people. We went incredibly specific in the aim of delivering something everyone can relate to.”

The campaign was ideated and developed with Postmates’ Los Angeles-based creative agency, Mother.

Dave Estrada, creative director at Mother, commented: “People are passionate about their food choices because eating is an emotional experience. What you eat says a lot about the headspace you’re in or want to be in. We created these little expressions, these little worlds that remind us what it feels like to eat that thing you love from the spots you love the most. Almost euphoric. Postmates celebrates that trip with you every time you get the food you crave.”

On TikTok, Postmates tapped creators native to the respective space, like @domenicaaq and @itsbridgettebitch, to provide their artistic takes on how food makes them feel. Content from the two creators is slated to run later this month.

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