An article from National Post talks about how the definition of food appreciation has evolved to the point that it doesn’t mean anything anymore.
Yet for the modern foodie, a genuine passion for food has always seemed beside the point. It would appear the only supplies required are a clean phone camera lens, good lighting and – for those looking to build a following – the knowledge of a few key hashtags. You don’t need to know anything more than the name of the menu item you’re photographing to appear as though you know what you’re talking about.
I recall a story told by a magazine editor who, along with a well-known food blogger, was invited to a fine dining event. After the meal, the food blogger (whose blog content consists mainly of photos taken in restaurants, the names of the dishes as they appear on the menus, and information about where the restaurants are located) was called to comment on the food and all he could say was, “It’s nice.” I wasn’t surprised. That’s about the limit of his food vocabulary in his blog.
And yet, he has marketed himself as a serious foodie and he has a substantial following that hangs on with bated breath to his restaurant “reviews” (which aren’t genuine reviews because there are no assessments nor analyses). His style has inspired others whose definition of a foodie is perfectly encapsulated in the above quote from the National Post article. They know shit about food but they have mobile phones with good cameras, and they know their hashtags.
The bottom line is that, for most of them, it is about building a following huge enough to make them appear “authoritative” so that they can catch the attention of food establishments. “Influencers” is the term used. They want to be invited, get wined and dined for free, and make careers out of that. We may laugh at them and make fun of them, but they do think that they’re gems in the world of foodies.
That’s the trend. And “trend” is the bible of marketers and advertisers. The lack of intrinsic value in the activities of these self-styled foodies is irrelevant so long as their style catches the attention of the public. So they approach these social media personalities, offer them free meals, and hope that the photos they take and the hashtags they pair the photos with would translate to inexpensive advertising. Cheaper than getting the likes of Anne Curtis to make an endorsement.
The problem is that this arrangement has been known to backfire. A lot of these social media personalities accept invitations, eat for free and scramble for the giveaways at the end of each event. Then, they fail to produce the expected social media posts. Marketing and PR firms realized that what they perceived to be “inexpensive advertising” is, in reality, ineffective advertising or no advertising at all.
Getting wind of the gimmickry of these false foodies, marketing and PR firms have resorted to extreme measures. Invitations were thereafter crafted with attached contracts which specify what the invited “foodie” must produce in exchange for the free meal—how many blog articles, how many posts on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram… It’s ridiculous but not totally unexpected. That’s what happens when all parties—self-styled foodies, marketing and PR firms—have cheapened themselves to such low depths.
Cheap begets cheap. And so-called foodies with nothing but cam phones and a little knowledge of hashtags are a dime a dozen.
Stock photo from Pixabay.