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visual communication practice

Bitter Truth

Description of idea

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

The concept of this work, Bitter Truth is expressed through a marketing campaign revealing the unfair trade system of cocoa producers in the developing world. This campaign promotes consumers to purchase Fairtrade chocolate in order to create social change. With 70% of the world’s cocoa coming from Africa, cocoa farmers are some of the poorest people in the world as the mainstream international trade system fails to offer a fair price.

Fairtrade is a trading partnership that attempts to establish direct trade from developing countries, counteracting the unfair system. This partnership is based on dialogue, transparency and respect that seek for greater equality within international trade. Sustainable development is also achieved through fair trade by offering better trading conditions and ensuring the rights of marginalised producers and workers.

One problem is that consumers are often not willing to pay the higher prices that are associated with fair trade due to a lack of understanding as to what it is. This campaign informs consumers what fair trade is and reveals the hidden truths that are associated with the mainstream international trade system. People are powerful as consumers; what consumers choose to buy shapes the world that we live in and can literally change someone’s life for the better.

What kind of communication approach do you use?

This project utilises a guerrilla marketing approach to reveal hidden truths regarding the unfair trade industry. This advertising strategy aims to create maximum results from minimal resources, utilising low cost print media through the use of stickers, tags and posters of which all items would direct consumers to a website for further information.

Bitter Truth critiques the corporate control of the chocolate industry. This process educates and provides an opportunity for individuals to gain an understanding as to what happens in the production process of their chocolate. This guerrilla campaign will encourage consumers to participate in shaping the food system through the chocolate that they purchase and consequently shape the ethics of cocoa.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

This form of communication is able to target corporations and reveal truths concerning cocoa production, transforming a passive consumer into an active consumer. When consumers support fair trade chocolate they support the Fairtrade standards. These standards provide farmers with a fair pay, working conditions and support sustainability of the agriculture of cocoa farms. If there were a demand for Fairtrade chocolate this would encourage large corporations to supply Fairtrade cocoa and pay a sustainable price to meet the demands of its consumers.

With consumers purchasing Fairtrade chocolate, cocoa farmers are able to receive immediate benefits. Those Fairtrade supported cocoa farmers are able to provide better prices, decent working conditions (including prohibiting the use of forces and abusive child labor), local sustainability and fair terms of trade for famers and works in the developing world. These benefits enable cocoa farmers to improve their position and have more control on their lives.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

Through my work I have come to understand that there is a curtain placed between our food and where it comes from. As a consumer, I was informed of the hidden truths. A majority of cocoa farmers receive merely 5% of profits from chocolate and therefore struggle to financially support the cost of cocoa farming and consequently struggle to support themselves and their families. This project has allowed myself to reconsider the consequences of what I buy and has changed my perspective towards the products I need to support.

However the most significant piece of information that I have learnt from this project is that as visual communication designers, we have a responsibility. Visual communication is a powerful tool with the ability to influence and provide unknown information to a public sphere.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?

This project is a form of good communication as it has been designed to improve the under privileged sector in a visually appealing manner. Through its confrontational form of application, this design educates consumers about the cocoa industry, challenges corporate cocoa industries and informs as to why one should support Fairtrade. This campaign allows consumers to respond to the increasingly corporate control within the food system providing a bottom up control system.

Where and how do you intent do implement your work?

The Bitter Truth campaign intends to be implemented at grocery stores and supermarkets. Each form of implementation encourages customers to support fair trade before the point of sale. Posters would be displayed at the grocery store windows defining fair trade and the associated benefits. Shelf wobblers, on the chocolate shelves politically question what form of chocolate production consumers are supporting. Chocolate bars, wrapped in simple packaging typographically illustrate the facts regarding the cocoa industry and encourage consumers to be informed of unknown truths. Additional stickers would be applied to various chocolate bars, displaying the Fairtrade logo to allow consumers to recognise what chocolate is helping the cocoa farmers in third world countries.

These implementations engage, inform and invite individuals to be active consumers, supporting the ethics of their food system whilst developing a small change towards social justice. In order to recognise the success of this campaign, the measureable outcome would be the recorded increasing sales of Fairtrade chocolate within each grocery store.

Did your intervention had an effect on other Media. If yes, describe the effect? (Has other media reported on it- how? Were you able to change other media with your work- how?)

At this present time, this particular intervention has no had an effect on other media. If this campaign were to have an effect on other media it would hopefully be effective in order to change legislation and policies that corporate chocolate industries would need to purchase Fairtrade cocoa.


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Entry details


Bitter Truth


Fair Trade Cocoa

Concept author(s)

Kenya Carroll

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

100% contribution to the concept of this work.



Competition category

visual communication practice

Competition subcategory


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

Queensland College of Art, Griffith University