Yin Yang and the Unicorn Frappuccino

I’m sure that we’re all familiar with the yin yang – the ancient Chinese image that has become a symbol of balance and harmony. The concept of the yin yang is that opposites not only exist alongside one other, but they’re complementary and interdependent -- meaning that opposites need each other to exist and are two sides of the same coin. The day comes from night. Or as the ancient Roman theologian Hippolytus said, “The road up and the road down are the same thing.”

Applying this theory would help justify why the Goth latte exists alongside the Unicorn Frappuccino. Allow me to explain.

Cotton candy colors have taken over our food, and everything from toast to blended coffee is getting the Unicorn treatment. Del Monte has recently introduced the world to pink pineapples, and blue Prosecco is poised to overtake Rosé as this summer’s au courant drink. I’ve been wracking my brain about the origins of this trend – a rebellion against clean eating? Escapism from the daily routine and the ongoing cycle of glum news? That food is only good if it’s Insta-worthy? Not sure that we’ll ever know the answer (or if there really is just one) but we do know that you can’t have light without darkness.

As expected, darkness is now being served and Goth Lattes have emerged in full assault mode against the Unicorn Frappuccino. Some are made with coffee from an ultra-heated coconut husk, known as charcoal, which has been rumored to help with everything from whiter teeth to reduced flatulence. These claims haven’t been proven, but does that matter when they look so cool in photos? The following Black latte from White Mojo in Melbourne, Australia combines soy, sesame, peanut and almond to create their unique jet-black brew.

On behalf of White Mojo

Just in time for summer, the Little Damage ice cream shop in Los Angeles is serving midnight black soft serve, which is even served in a black cone. The almond-charcoal flavor contains active charcoal and each cone is recited a Sylvia Path poem before being served (ok, maybe I made that last part up.)

On behalf of Little Damage

As marketers, what should we make of all of this?

• Trends come and go … sometimes very quickly. A trend isn’t a strategy. It’s a fun thing to leverage to gain relevance with some people, assuming that you have an authentic link to it (and you can execute quickly.)

• Take the road less traveled. When you see a trend coming at you full force, take a 180 degree turn and see where it leads you. Remember, opposites need each other.

• When it comes to food, it pays to be photogenic and #foodporn is a thing. Research published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing found that taking a picture of food before eating it makes the food taste better!

• Always play a long game. Trends may give you a brief moment in the sun, but real behavior changes happen by understanding your target and delivering consistent messages over an extended period of time.

Rebecca Jimmy Szczepanek is a Partner at PN Los Angeles and manages two large food accounts. He has an interest in consumer marketing, trends and is a hobbyist baker.
Porter Novelli Nutrition Newsletter | June 2017