Hens Took the Photographs for This Vital Farms Ad Campaign

Thanks to Preacher and custom camera rigs

Watch the birdie!

Tasked with selling consumers on Vital Farms' pasture-raised foods and ethically produced eggs, creative agency Preacher naturally hatched a plan for the client's chickens to serve as campaign photographers.

The resulting online, social and OOH elements (and even some coffee-table books) feature images captured by hens operating custom-built, pressure-sensor camera rigs:

Click images to enlarge:

Here's a finely feathered clip showing just what it took to put "Hens Behind the Lens."

Vital Farms Presents: The Hens Behind The Lens

"We had one of those dream briefs from Vital Farms. They wanted to test new media placements and needed our help to provide an idea to support those placements," Preacher creative director Jimmie Blount tells Muse.

Naturally, the team took its cue from ... a bunch of monkeys?

"We were inspired by this monkey selfie copyright dispute, where crested macaques took selfies using David Slater's cameras," Blount recalls. "The whole debate around the ownership of the photos got our team wondering if Vital Farms' hens could operate a camera to shoot the images we'd need for this media test."

There's precedent for this sort of thing, with horses and cows collecting footage via GoPros strapped to their heads for Lexington, Ky., tourism and Waitrose, respectively, a few years back. "I always assumed A.I. bots would take our jobs. Turns out it'll be farm animals," Blount says.

Digi-tech expert Andrew Loehman from Lightbox Productions designed the special shutter-switch system for the hens.

"We wanted to encourage the hens to collaborate with us and motivate them to action," Blount recalls. "Based on previous shoots, we remembered they were excited by the red shoes of someone on the production. So, we made our switch red, hoping that would be enough to get the hens intrigued."

Alas, "it wasn't," he reports. "But once we got the hens pecking, they proved to be quite prolific. It was a task to wade through the sheer number of photos taken and make our selections, but we're incredibly pleased with the images."

They're farm-yard fowl! Be glad they didn't just fly the coop when you weren't looking!

"Our campaign was intentionally created to reach a broad base of consumers," says client senior brand manager Heather Mace. "We want to introduce more people to ethical food production in a playful way."

She adds: "We felt the many creative elements of this campaign—from the hen-friendly camera to the video of them snapping photos and the sophisticated black-and-white photography—would grab people's attention and drive them to learn more about our values. Since it's our first venture into out-of-home, we're eager to learn how the campaign engages people."

In other critter news, the San Diego Zoo put sheep in front of its cameras last week, "disguising" them as endangered species to hype conservation. And in NYC's SoHo neighborhood, dozens of pooches followed the scent in Petco's retail activation.


Client: Vital Farms
VP of Marketing: Kathryn McKeon
Senior Brand Manager: Heather Mace
Associate Brand Manager: Jessie Vogel

Agency: Preacher
Chief Creative Officer: Rob Baird
Chief Executive Officer: Krystle Loyland
Chief Strategy Officer: Seth Gaffney
Creative Director: Jimmie Blount
Creative Director: Justin Ralph
Art Director: Kymberli Fraser
Senior Copywriter: Matt Klugman
Designer: Marissa Servantez
Junior Designer: Wendy Ampuero
Brand Director: Kristen Meade
Brand Manager: Taylor Jansen
Senior Strategist: Stephen Maroda
Executive Producer: Stacey Higgins
Senior Producer: Cate McManus
Business Affairs: Miiko Martin

Photographers: The Hens of Vital Farms
Fabricator: Isaac Secret
Videographer: Phil Kline

Production Company: Lightbox Productions
Editor: Andrew Loehman
Motion Graphics: Skylar Moran

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