a global project that started in LA and included research in Copenhagen

redeem for change

At first glance, the coupons in the stack of coupons at the Department of Cultural Affairs Art in the Park Exhibition in Los Angeles appeared to be offering healthy meals from 7-Eleven. Friedman’s Redeem for Change piece also included a sign immediately notifying potential 7-Eleven customers that the material is a political act, rather than a monetary voucher. However, 7-Eleven affiliates who are presented with the coupon in stores must first read the fine print in order to understand that the corporation restricts access to the healthy items depicted on the coupon to European consumers.

Redeem for Change, paper coupon (detail), 3 in D x 6.75 in L each (height of stack variable), 2019.

In designing the coupon, the artist reclaims 7-Eleven’s branding as well as advertising’s divisive use of fine print. In order to verify the coupon’s validity, 7-Eleven stakeholders must engage with some, if not all, of the coupon’s text, which provides the corporation with ideas on how to open access to fresh healthy options to LA Country residents. The text pulls language from 7-Eleven’s mission, such as “we’re uniquely positioned to make healthy, positive change in the lives of people,” and contains data from the artist’s research with an LA hospital and from her on-site studies at Denmark storefronts.

Redeem for Change, paper coupon (detail), 3 in D x 6.75 in L each (height of stack variable), 2019.

The data, along with requests for 7-Eleven to redirect its powerful impact on the health of the communities it serves—some of whom buy groceries exclusively from convenience stores due to proximity and other logistical restrictions—ensures no inconvenience to store employees.

Redeem for Change exhibition sign, Department of Cultural Affairs City of Los Angeles, Art in the Park at the Arroyo Seco in Hermon Park, Los Angeles, CA, 2019.

The act simply initiates exchanges amongst the LA community, 7-Eleven staff, franchise owners and corporate that can increase the offering and marketing of meal options with health benefits, over those with health risks to LA County residents. The text also requests a sensitivity to the communities potentially affected by corporate changes, but acknowledges that such sensitivity is not an excuse for the corporation to continue its discriminatory food offering strategies.

H E A L T H Y   C H O I C E S  :   U . S .   v e r s u s   E U R O P E

Not only are the offerings different in European convenience stores, but the marketing efforts leave something more to be desired in the U.S.

A screenshot of 7-eleven.com/healthy-choices (from 7-Eleven’s United States website).

It seems like the United States 7-Eleven advertisements aren’t even trying to sell salads to customers, but rather, meeting a requirement. Notice the tacky food photography and the mistake in the header image.

An actual marketing image of some of 7-Eleven Denmark’s offerings.

7-Eleven’s European offerings and marketing are top notch and just as visually appealing as junk food options.