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LOS ANGELES On an uncharacteristically rainy night in Los Angeles, a group of actors, influencers, and members of the press met in a parking lot in Hollywood, ready to be transported to a mysterious location for dinner. All they knew was that the event would be promoting Freeform's upcoming series Good Trouble, a spin-off of popular family drama The Fosters.
After loading into a van and taking a quick drive up the Hollywood Hills, attendees discovered their dinner venue: three large moving trucks parked in an open-air field directly below the iconic Hollywood sign. The trucks were branded with Freeform and Good Trouble signage, and the back of each opened to reveal three distinct, design-forward dining rooms inspired by the show's themes of friendship, love, and young adulthood.
“We loved the idea of meshing these wildly disparate ideas of an empty truck and a really warm communal dining experience,” explained Tricia Melton, Freeform's senior vice president of marketing, creative, and brand.
She noted that the team, made up of Freeform's internal marketing team and event producers Blue Revolver, was mostly inspired by Good Trouble's pilot episode, in which two women in their mid-20s move to Los Angeles only to have their U-Haul towed and all of their possessions stolen. Ultimately, the pair finds their footing after a fun communal dinner with their new roommates.
“It was really about creating this compare and contrast about what it means to be entering young adulthood and how quickly things can go awry,” she continued. “There's such a camaraderie that emerges as part of that.”
“We loved the idea of meshing these wildly disparate ideas of an empty truck and a really warm communal dining experience.”
The organizers themselves discovered how quickly things can go awry when the forecast called for pouring rain on November 29, the night of the first dinner. (A second V.I.P. dinner was held the following night with the same format and decor.)
“The rain was definitely the biggest challenge due to the uniqueness of the location and the need to get people up safely,” noted Melton. A heated tent was added to the cocktail area, outdoor carpeting kept guests from sinking into the mud, and staffers were on hand to help navigate the wet stairs leading into the trucks. Once seated for dinner, attendees were given warm blankets.
Other than slight modifications, though, the evening moved forward as planned with an on-theme meal from Love Catering. Designed to reflect upgraded versions of common foods young roommates eat, highlights of the nine-dish meal included hot dogs covered with edible gold foil; chocolate sprinkle doughnuts filled with bacon, tomato, and ketchup; and fruit-covered panna cotta in the shape of faces and hearts.
“It was really about leveling up and presenting those foods in a very unusual way, either through visual presentation or taste and textures,” explained Melton. “We wanted to flip the notion of what junk food and cheap food is on its head.”
Ultimately, said Melton, the goal was to bring an intimate group—each night was limited to 30 people—together to eat, bond, learn about the show, and get to know the cast in an unexpected environment. “If you ever want to inspire great conversation, get inside a U-Haul!” she joked. “The whole communal dining experience really came to life and just felt really natural and organic.”
Next up, Freeform will take the experience to the fans. This weekend, the three trucks will be parked on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, where consumers will be able to learn about the series, check out the decor, and taste a modified version of the meal. A fourth truck will travel around Los Angeles, serving as both a mobile billboard and as a vending machine where fans can answer questions about what kind of “good trouble” they plan to get into this weekend. Depending on their answer, they can win a series of related prizes like hangover kits, breath mints, playing cards, or even underwear.
“For us, it's really important to do something fan-forward and fan-facing, in addition to the more V.I.P. events,” said Melton. “We always want to give the fans an experience where they can touch, see, and feel the show.”
Take a look inside the unconventional, design-forward dinner party.