Kotanyi: Spice up your food, not your language

The challenge

Worrying statistics show that 65% of secondary school students experience verbal abuse. Kotanyi, a spice expert, responded to this problematic trend by exploring “verbal spices” and sending a clear message: Spice your food, not your language.

Creative initiative

The Spice-o-meter

At the heart of the solution was the Spice-o-meter: an online “spiciness” rating of the most commonly used swear words among young people, selected with the help of experts in the field of psychology and youth violence. Spice-o-meter users can rate the intensity of everyday insults with a simple scroll bar, compare their personal experience of these words with the average experience of other users and read some recommendations on how to deal with verbal abuse.

Equipment and advertisements

The initiative was also highlighted with special tags on the Kotanyi spice mills. This way, the issue was brought to the attention of parents, who are usually those responsible for grocery shopping. The hanging tags were equipped with a QR code that referred you to the Spice-o-meter page.
Part of the money raised from the sale of spice mills was donated to the Young Dragons Youth Centre — an organization that provides safe creative spaces for young people in the city. People were also able to learn more about the Spice-o-meter and the problem of verbal abuse through print ads and prime time radio features on Radio 1 (the most popular radio station in Slovenia).

Social networks and influencer marketing

On social media, we drew attention to the high levels of verbal abuse among young people and encouraged positive communication while having fun with spice puns — word games made from spice names and cooking jargon. By unnecessarily censoring the names of spices, we drew attention to the ubiquity of verbal abuse and the fact that we always think of swear words when asterisks replace letters. We also organized a FB live freestyle show where young rappers UM & Kuna entertained the audience with “spicy rhymes” where they coined clever rhymes out of nothing but nice words suggested by the viewers.

The campaign also involved influencers who advocate for respectful and inclusive communication. Their posts were full of personal stories, hard-hitting statistics and encouragement for a kinder communication style. This sparked follower discussions about peer violence, with users spontaneously sharing their experiences and concerns, highlighting the need to raise awareness of the problem of verbal abuse.

From the digital world to the heart of the problem – the people.

With the “Spice up your food, not your language” campaign, we took part in the iconic Neo Plata event organized by the Young Dragons Youth Centre and held in the non-central districts of Ljubljana. A special bus called “Ljuba & Drago” took up the central part of the space where we prepared hot dogs with just the right amount of spice. Parents and children alike were invited to rate the words on the Spice-o-meter and write positive thoughts on the tablecloth.

The centerpiece of this event was once again the performance of UM & Kuna. In their freestyle show, they demonstrated that you can still be “cool” even without using swear words. More than 150 youngsters and their parents swayed to their rhymes and expressed their feelings as follows:


  • In October, €3,125 was raised through the sale of spice mills, all of which was donated to the Young Dragons Youth Centre
  • Influencers’ stories mentioning the Spice-o-meter reached 46,652 Instagram users.
  • The influencers received more than 40 spontaneous personal confessions and statements from followers in their private messages.
  • More than 150 people participated in the afternoon activation at the NEO Plata event and took home more than 400 free spice blends.
  • The Spice-o-meter quiz was fully completed by more than 80% of all website visitors, providing additional insight into the perception of the chosen words.