Facebook food giant Tastemade is getting into virtual reality
Tastemade has premiered its first virtual reality video as the publisher best known for food videos on Facebook continues to venture outside of the kitchen.
“A Perfect Day in Los Angeles” is a five-minute tour of the city, hosted by Ryan Seacrest. It begins with a studio introduction followed by a trip to a hidden watering hole in Malibu, then later onto the boat for the Jaws ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. The video culminates with Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter on the set of “Conan” talking about the city.
Produced by team of seven people from Tastemade and VR startup Jaunt, the video is available on the Jaunt VR app and will be distributed in a 360-degree format across Tastemade’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
As a format, “A Perfect Day” makes sense for virtual reality — the entire film is meant to be an ode to Los Angeles and show places and things that most people either don’t know about or don’t have access to. But coming from Tastemade, it seems like a departure for a publisher that has made its name on food videos — except Tastemade doesn’t see it that way.
“We get bucketed into the food category when we are so much more,” said Melissa Drucker, head of sales and brand partnerships for Tastemade. “We started off with food, no doubt, but the whole idea of Tastemade was never meant to be food only — it’s always been about having great taste in anything you do whether that’s food, travel or health and fitness.”
Among Facebook video giants, Tastemade sits consistently near the top. The publisher has 19.9 million followers on its main Facebook page, which in August did 638.4 million views, according to Tubular Labs. It’s even growing on Instagram, where the company had 37.8 million views in August.
A vast majority of these videos are either straightforward recipe videos or are at least in some way affiliated with food. For instance, the popular “Tiny Kitchen” series creates miniature version of dishes. Even new shows — the recently launched scripted comedy series “Food Court” tackles food debates like why In-N-Out feels the need to have a secret menu — still center on food.
Travel, which ties in pretty neatly with food, has been a Tastemade area of focus for some time now, said Drucker. Of the 50 shows Tastemade has made to date, more than half feature travel aspects. Many of these programs are done for brands, such as Grey Goose’s sponsorship of “Local Flight,” in which Tastemade meets with popular local mixologists across the U.S.
“The food category is getting so cluttered right now — there are so many recipe sites, even food brands are becoming recipe sites — that there is no real opportunity there,” said Britt Fero, chief strategy and media officer for Publicis Seattle. “[Tastemade] can be more of a competitor to Vox than just a food network. This allows them to stretch their viewpoint and tap into a broader advertiser base.”
There were no brand sponsors for “A Perfect Day in Los Angeles.” LA24.org, the committee bidding to host the 2024 Olympic Games, had a hand in providing access to certain locations but did not fund the project, Drucker said. That said, Tastemade is already talking to advertisers about doing more VR content, including potential new episodes of “A Perfect Day” that tackle other famous cities. “As [brands] start discovering VR, we’re looking for ways to show brands that we can do this for them, too,” said Drucker.
Tastemade’s scale and previous work with advertisers will help as it pitches VR to advertisers. “A lot of publishers can say they have VR capabilities — cool, you can do it technically, but can you tell a great story?” said Fero. “Tastemade] can go to advertisers, who have confidence in them as video producers, and say we can now do this, here’s how we’ve already done it, and command a premium.”
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