Blue Apron, the darling of podcast advertising as one of the few subscription delivery services that advertises on the medium, has created its own food-related podcast with Gimlet Media.
Why We Eat What We Eat premieres Oct. 11 and is hosted by food writer and cookbook author Cathy Erway, who also hosts Eat Your Words. The new show will cover topics like what makes certain foods popular, what makes some people picky eaters and others more adventurous, and the history of potluck dinners and community gatherings. The show also explores the unseen forces that inspire the choices everyone makes when choosing what food to eat.
“Some of the most fun parts of this project has been the flexibility in determining what the format is,” said Frances Harlow, deputy creative director of Gimlet Media. “Blue Apron was totally on board with us experimenting and not wanting to feel formulaic.”
Episodes will span from identifying “characters” responsible for starting food trends, as Erway and the production team accidentally stumble upon a pseudoconspiracy to following along with one recent immigrant’s nursing school graduation potluck dinner.
The brand is already creating extra content for fans including videos on cooking technique, deeper dives into some of Blue Apron’s unique weekly ingredients and blog posts focusing on the service’s suppliers.
This is Gimlet Media’s sixth branded podcast created by Gimlet Creative. Other brands like Microsoft, eBay and Tinder have produced their own bespoke series. Each podcast is related to the brand thematically but by design doesn’t include heavy-handed references back to the sponsor.
“At Gimlet, we won’t make a podcast that’s just a 25-minute advertisement,” Harlow said. “The brands we work with know that’s not advantageous because people won’t listen to it.”
In fact, Why We Eat What We Eat has the least amount of branding out of any of the other branded podcasts on the network with simple credits at the beginning and end of each episode.
Blue Apron CMO Jared Cluff sees the podcast as an important part of the company’s strategy “to build a lifestyle brand around home cooking, deepen our relationship with our customers and win new fans.”
The company’s appearance on so many podcasts is part of its marketing strategy to give potential new users promotions, according to Quartz’s piece on the meal-kit service earlier this year when it filed for IPO.
“Creating incredible home-cooking experiences is the core of what we do, and by supplementing our culinary products with inspiring content and engaging storytelling, we‘ve found that we can connect with our customers on an emotional level, both in the kitchen and beyond,” Cluff said.
For now, listeners won’t get additional ad breaks during the show to “keep it from feeling overly branded,” according to Harlow. Historically, ads that appear in Gimlet podcasts are made by its creative team, which enjoys leeway when it comes to what goes into them. What’s important is that any interstitial ads carry the same tone and personality as the rest of the podcast. Harlow said Gimlet listeners respond best to those types of ads.
Why We Eat What We Eat’s first season will air its final episode the week of Thanksgiving, a large travel and food holiday for those in the U.S., and Harlow is excited for listeners to tune in to the many experimental formats the team produced.
“Some episodes are a little stunt-y, some are poignant and personal and others are more informative,” she said. “It was great to partner with Blue Apron to create such a range of approaches just in this one show.”
Listen to a trailer of Why We Eat What We Eat below: