Mellow Mushroom’s Trippy Menus

8/13/17

Charged by their client, Mellow Mushroom, Atlanta, with creating a promotion that “people would want to steal,” advertising agency BooneOakley, Charlotte, delivered a series of artist-designed menus, breaking this summer, that is intended to support the pizza chain’s brand positioning as “a place of self-expression and imagination,” “a place between reality and possibility.”

Say what? Mellow Mushroom’s individual stores are each uniquely designed and decorated by local artists, and each offers several exclusive “locals only” recipes. Among the chain-wide pizzas are, for example, the “Holy Shiitake,” with shiitake, button and portobello mushrooms, caramelized onion, mozzarella and montamoré cheeses, garlic aioli, black truffle oil, and a garnish of chives and shaved parm. Or the pesto-and-feta “Kosmic Karma.” And then there’s “build your own,” from a list of over 40 ingredients.

BooneOakley reached out to five artists, from Melbourne to Berlin, with suitably fantastical philosophies and styles. (Andrew Archer favors “hallucinogenic color”; Olaf Hajek calls his style “the imperfection of beauty.”) Each was given free rein to create an alternate pizza reality, with a full-page, art-only cover (three contain the words “Mellow Mushroom”; two do not), an artist’s bio on the back; and in between, 6 pages of menu items illustrated with dozens of small, weird spot drawings.

Initial customer reaction appears to have met Mellow Mushroom’s criteria for success. Some of the menus have been “liberated” within their first week of appearance. No word as to whether the liberators were part of the chain’s “core” market (ages 35 – 49) or its GenZ/Millennial “entry” market.

The menus are 10” x 9” (closed), 20” x 9” (open), and hard bound (coated pressboard), as if an artist’s easel.

Creative credits go to the artists: Andrew Archer, Melbourne andrewarcher.com; Aldo Crusher, Mexico City aldocrusher.dribbble.com; Olaf Hajek, Berlin olafhajek.com; Jon Reinfurt, Audubon, N.J. reinfurt.com; and Mark Ward, London markwardstudio.com; and to BooneOakley creative director David Oakley; design director Eric Roch von Rochsburg; art director Laura Beebe; and copywriter Mary Gross.

Mellow Mushroom, aka Home Grown Industries of Georgia, privately held, is a full-service pizza chain with 195 locations in 23 states, primarily southeastern, extending west and north to Arizona, Utah and New Jersey. mellowmushroom.com

BooneOakley is a full service, independent advertising agency, with other clients including Bojangles’, the Charlotte Hornets, North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, Sunbelt Rentals, Wells Fargo Championship (golf), Autobell Car Wash and The Mint Museum. booneoakley.com

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