By Yash Egami Posted on Jun 20, 2013

The legendary chef and food writer James Beard once said, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience." Taking those words to heart, Leo Burnett in Chicago used food to unite people from opposite sides to discuss their differences, whether it be political, social or religious, with the Recipeace campaign, this year's Best of Show winner in One Show Design.

Restaurants, grocers, chefs and foodies around Chicago were asked to create meals that would bring people together and promote Peace Day on September 21. The centerpiece of the campaign was a bottle of olive oil featuring a design meant to invoke the universal symbol of peace. "Truce" place settings and other collateral including posters drove people to the Recipeace website, where recipes were offered, discussions took place and information was provided about the movement.

"In a world of increasing violence, Peace One Day asked us to raise awareness for Peace Day, September 21st," explains Alisa Wolfson, SVP and director of design at Leo Burnett in Chicago. "This led us to create Recipeace, a movement that brings conflicting people together over food. The idea was started by a few people who have a passion for food. We then discovered that many of the world's historic differences were settled over a meal."

Everything from the logo to the typeface used in the designs were all carefully chosen for their symbolic meanings. "The combination of the campaign elements all marry a quiet sophistication with the powerful message for peace," states Wolfson. "To participate, we ask that you pledge to resolve your differences over a meal. We tried to connect with each person in a familiar way. The Recipeace logo marries immediacy with whimsy. There is something wonderful and human in the combination of stencil type and a more traditional epicurean icon; the symbolic olive branch and a graphic kitchen table. The campaign design feels culinary and not war-like or aggressive. Perhaps that is what makes it appealing."

What started out as a movement among a handful of Chicago restaurants quickly spread, and the campaign culminated on Peace Day with restaurants around the city hosting events. At one gathering, members of the Jewish and Muslim communities around the city came together to discuss their differences and common experiences over a meal. Area schools held student peace dinners, and thousands of people overseas showed their support online.

The most surprising aspect of the campaign for the creatives was how quickly people embraced the idea. "The outpouring of support and interest in this idea has shown how viable and easy it can be for a small team of like-minded people to introduce and inspire change," says Wolfson.

"A few people have asked me how long we have had Recipeace for a client," she adds. "I find that really funny since we actually created the movement in less than 4 weeks."



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