Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cards Against Humanity details their Extreme Gaming Oatmeal campaign

PWNMEAL Extreme Gaming Oatmeal was a prank that Cards Against Humanity played at PAX East 2014. We created a fake “extreme oatmeal” brand and distributed sixty thousand packets of instant oatmeal with Cards Against Humanity cards inside to attendees of PAX.


First, the joke just wouldn’t have been as funny if it was some kind of dumb viral marketing for Cards Against Humanity; we wanted to really create confusion as to what exactly PWNMEAL was. My dream was to create the illusion of an extreme oatmeal brand so convincingly that people would throw their packets out, and then go digging in the trash for them later when they realized that there were Cards Against Humanity cards inside.

Second, we wanted to heighten the surprise of finding the cards in the oatmeal as much as possible, which meant we had to really sell the idea of an extreme gaming oatmeal. We didn’t want anyone to know that PWNMEAL was associated with Cards Against Humanity until they opened it up.

Third, I wanted the cards to come loose in the oatmeal, covered in oat dust - I didn’t want them in a foil pack or any packaging. It was just funnier that way.

Finally, we had to get these packets into the U.S. with FDA approval, and they had to fit into the convention center’s strict rules that ban giving away food. This was a big design challenge that we solved in two phases. Phase one was to ship the empty, printed packets to the U.S. and fill them with about an ounce each of good old domestic U.S.A. oatmeal here, so we didn’t have to worry about FDA import policies. Phase two was to hope we didn’t get caught by the convention center. In total, we ordered three tons of quick rolled oats and created about 60,000 packets of instant oatmeal. (Someone from the convention center food services department did come over to our booth looking for us, but it turns out he was just a fan and wanted to give us cupcakes).