Making The Fake News

In 2014, Artist, Jeremy Mason McGraw was invited to collaborate on a project for an art event in Bentonville, Arkansas. The event, called Sensory Iconoclasts, paired chefs and artists from the region to collaborate on a project that combined food and art and engaged with the concept of sustainability.

Bentonville, the headquarters for Walmart, is a town that invests a lot of money in building and shaping an artistic and cultural identity. It’s also a town in which the corporate presence of Walmart is strongly felt.

Real Community Art Show

At the time, a series of recent Supreme Court rulings, including the Citizens United and Hobby Lobby cases, had shifted the definition of a corporation. These cases extended some of the rights that were previously only guaranteed to individuals to corporations as well.

Jeremy was asking himself, “What is the difference between a person and a corporation?

Like a lot of people in America at the time, Jeremy was asking himself, “What is the difference between a person and a corporation?”. Jeremy followed the logic to an entertaining conclusion, “If a corporation can have a religion, or support a political candidate, then can a corporation enter a community art show?”  An art event in a corporate town seemed like the perfect backdrop to find out and a fake news story was born.

Along with local chef Chrissy Sanderson, Jeremy launched Sanderson’s Meal Pops – a total meal replacement in the form of a lollipop (and a very early contestant for Trump’s Fake News Trophy). In the world that Chrissy and Jeremy imagined, Sanderson’s Meal Pops was a newly formed corporation shamelessly using the art event as a platform to launch their own business.

Sanderson's Meal Pops in the Fake News

Sanderson's Meal Pops in The Fake News

He created a buzz campaign that involved a fake news video story, hanging marketing posters, and a fake beef with artist Zeek Taylor that led to a real local radio interview where Jeremy dodged questions about his artistic integrity by praising the positive attributes of the meal pop. When asked what the meal pops tasted like would give vague but enthusiastic answers in marketingese, like, “Well, they’re a lot like a protein rich explosion in your mouth!”

Fake News For The Masses

Chrissy and Jeremy created a fictitious backstory for the product. In their story, the meal pops had been originally created in the 1950s by Chrissy’s grandmother in an attempt to feed her fussy son, and had, for a brief time, become quite the sensation. The backstory connected Jeremy and Chrissy’s project to an era of industrialization, TV dinners, and very little regard for the environment. It also tapped into a host of nostalgic themes and imagery to play on.

Jeremy immediately took on the role of Marketing Director for the newly created company. Armed with only with some inedible prototypes of the meal pops while Chrissy perfected the recipe, Jeremy launched a full marketing campaign. He created a buzz campaign that involved a fake news video story, hanging marketing posters, and a fake beef with artist Zeek Taylor that led to a real local radio interview where Jeremy dodged questions about his artistic integrity by praising the positive attributes of the meal pop. When asked what the meal pops tasted like would give vague but enthusiastic answers in marketingese, like, “Well, they’re a lot like a protein rich explosion in your mouth!”

Chrissy and Jeremy believed that people would immediately recognize the absurd product and over-the-top marketing campaign as satire. They were delighted to find that a number of people not only believed the company was real, but a few even remembered tasting the meal pops when they were kids, and the project stirred a bit of controversy in Northwest Arkansas’ art community.

The Making of Sanderson's Meal Pops

The Making of Sanderson's Meal Pops - Creating Fake News For a Real Community Art Show

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