Branding Interview South Africa

#FoodWashing: A chat with accidental viral sensation and branding expert Matt Rosenman

American content creator and food blogger, Matt Rosenman, is a big deal on social media after accidentally becoming a viral sensation for using his graphic design background to make content on rebranding popular food products.
Matt Rosenman has become a viral sensation. Source: Supplied.
Matt Rosenman has become a viral sensation. Source: Supplied.

Based in Detroit, Michigan some of his most popular TikTok videos include rebranding Coca-Cola to “healthy” by using terms associated with wellness like “natural flavours" and “100% plant-based” to make people aware of how big brands can use these terms to make products seem healthier than they are – a phenomenon called 'food washing' or 'health washing'. 

@mattrosenman Replying to @xxlenteja Healthy @cocacola at your service. It’s time to thrive. #rebrand #healthfood #cocacola #healthysoda ♬ original sound - Matt Rosenman

Do you think 'food washing' is a prevalent problem right now?

While I think there are far bigger problems within the health industry, it is certainly very prevalent. In the US, there are very loose regulations when it comes to food labels, so many companies are taking full advantage of that to deceive customers.

Luckily it is not necessarily harmful, but it is deceiving people by taking advantage of what they don’t know, not to mention often costing them much more money overall considering the healthy-sounding alternatives come with a premium price tag.

You focus a lot of your content on 'rebranding' popular food and beverages like Coca-Cola and M&Ms? Why?

To be perfectly honest, the rebranding content that has become popular recently happened completely by accident. I actually have a background in graphic design, so one day I decided to use that to my advantage and post a really quick video, less than 30 seconds, showcasing how easy it is to write buzzwords on a package and make it sound healthier than it is. I figured it would be a one-off video, but it gained quite a bit of traction, so I decided to do more of those videos.

@mattrosenman Replying to @edditing_tutorials Break me off a piece of that fancy feast. I think my ability to come up with slogans is improving each time. #healthfood #foodlabels #rebranding #kitkat ♬ original sound - Matt Rosenman

The whole purpose of these rebrands is not to say any food is bad or unhealthy, but rather to highlight how many foods that are marketed as healthy options are not all that different from the regular options that are out there. My hope is that I can educate consumers and encourage them to make food choices based on what it important to them and not just what sounds good.

You have more than 300,000 followers on TikTok and more than 100,000 on Instagram, how long did it take you to build up this following?

I started on Instagram in 2017, so it was a very slow build. When I got started on Instagram, I was posting infographics to help break down complicated nutrition topics. Since Instagram was a photo-based app at the time with no video, I was able to build a very loyal following with those informational posts. I was hesitant to get into TikTok because my content has always been image-based, but I began experimenting with these rebrand videos and they have performed very well on TikTok. In fact, they perform significantly better there than on Instagram, and I’ve been able to grow my TikTok account to well over 300,000 followers (and counting) just this year.

Did you expect to blow up like you have?

Absolutely not. I posted my first health food rebrand video in 2022 and it went viral with two million views, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I allowed months to go by while experimenting with other content until I ultimately decided to give those rebrand videos another shot. Since then, numerous videos have gotten 10+ million views and my account has grown faster than I could have ever imagined.

The craziest part to me is that I will post the same videos on Instagram and get 10 thousand views compared to TikTok where it will get 10 million views. It just goes to show that there is no recipe for success on social media- you just have to find the right audience for your content.

What do you hope to achieve with your content?

Ultimately, all I want to do is educate people. Since doing my rebrand videos, I’ve had countless people comment and message me letting me know that they now take the time to read food labels at the store and have begun to notice all of these labeling tricks that companies are using. My entire goal with social media is to educate and help people - I am not selling anything or trying to convince anyone to sign up for anything. If I can help people, I’m happy. And so far I have been able to do just that, so I hope it can continue.

About Karabo Ledwaba

Karabo Ledwaba is a Marketing and Media Editor at Bizcommunity and award-winning journalist. Before joining the publication she worked at Sowetan as a content producer and reporter. She was also responsible for the leadership page at SMag, Sowetan's lifestyle magazine. Contact her at

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