Responses by Vivienne Wan, collective creative director, Fortnight Collective.
Background: This video campaign came out of a community initiative by Wholesome Sweeteners as part of its ongoing brand mission to be a force for good in the world. Our idea was to support people giving back to their communities by giving them the spotlight and sharing their stories with the world. We focused mainly on bakers who are bringing people together and improving the lives of others through baking. Our vision was to share their inspirational stories and show the world that change starts locally. We all have the power to create a positive impact, even through buttercream and babka.
Design thinking: As a brand, Wholesome always seeks more ways to be a force for good. This is evident in its dedication to fair trade, helping farmers earn a living wage and giving proceeds to farming communities. Hence, Fortnight Collective created the campaign Let’s Bake Things Better to communicate Wholesome’s brand values and help consumers connect the sweetener brand with these beliefs. Baking inherently brings people together—nothing brings people into a room like a plate of freshly baked cookies—and so, “supporting community” for Wholesome is a very natural place for it to be.
When the brand came to us with this community initiative project, Wholesome said it wanted to do something that gave back to communities. To do this, we looked around in our local communities to see what bakers around us were doing. There were people in our communities not only quietly creating positive impact for the people around them, but they were doing so in extraordinary ways: Shiri, who runs Rising Above Bakery in Chestnut Ridge, New York, employs people with special needs as equal members of her team and teaches them the skills for meaningful work. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, “The Batchmaker” Cris’s motto is “people first, cakes second,” and her tireless dedication to her community came back around to her in a surprising, heartwarming way.
We wanted to share these bakers’ stories of positive impact with the world as honest, documentary-style content. We wanted the stories and the people behind them to speak for themselves. Our vision was for this to be real, about the bakers and not about touting the brand. Fortnight Collective wanted Wholesome to play the role of the spotlight and for the bakers to do the talking.
Challenges: Pulling this off during COVID-19 with a modest budget. For that reason, we chose to keep the team small and light on its feet with just a director and a lead producer on location: one-day shoots, no lighting, no director of photography and no agency creatives on set. This meant we had to make sure we were all aligned creatively before the shoot. Because of that, communication and trust were vital.
Favorite details: Fortnight Collective is proud of these bakers. They’ve dedicated their lives to baking and doing incredible things for others. They’re not doing it for attention or award shows—or even money. They go out of their way and do things the hard way just because they believe in improving the lives of others. By changing what they do a little bit, tweaking their life recipe, they’re producing something that positively impacts the world. We can all learn from that. We’re proud of them for teaching us that lesson.
New lessons: Watching the footage and listening to an interview with a mother of one of the Rising Above bakers, a young man with Down syndrome, I came to realize how little some of us knew about parents’ experiences of children with special needs—how, as this young man approaches adulthood, this mother has so much to think and worry about, and how complex it all is. By employing young people with special needs, this bakery must feel like a miracle to them and a gift to the employees and their families. It made us think about how one person who had this idea to start this bakery has changed so many lives. It also made us think about how little there is to support young people in similar situations, what a rarity this bakery is and how there ought to be more like it in other communities.
On the horizon: Fortnight Collective hopes to continue this campaign with more bakers. We’d like to find more people bringing communities together through baking and feature them in the future. They deserve the spotlight. We’re already looking at a few more bakeries that do good in their communities.