“One of the best experiences I’ve ever had. So enjoyable, it was like a catwalk for food!”
In a world of cynical consumers the ability to get this sort of reaction by delivering a brand communications solution that not only blurs the line between editorial and advertising but has prospects in ecstatic delirium is a major achievement.
Today, media companies have to offer innovative solutions to entice marketers. Metro and Taste magazines’ Seasonal Suppers concept that invites chefs to curate their own intimate dinner event is one such outstanding offering. Bauer Media regularly explores international trends for inspiration and insight into what readers might want, and the food trends of localism and seasonality have proved to be the perfect touchstone for creating beautiful content that appeals to both readers and sponsors alike.
Seasonal Suppers is a concept created to target a high-value early adopter audience through the curation of a seasonal menu that showcases new food trends. Each Seasonal Supper allows a chef to introduce new recipes based on delicious seasonal ingredients. The summer event put Griffin’s brand, Huntley & Palmers Flatbread, firmly into the Kiwi culinary conversation.
Built on previous success
The involvement of Griffin’s Foods followed on from a highly successful content campaign for its Huntley & Palmers Flatbread, which Bauer’s Media Collective had created in previous months. Media agency, MBM, had been briefed to launch the new artisan style Flatbread, by highlighting usage and relevance across key entertaining occasions. The solution was to develop and integrate beautiful food content seamlessly into inspirational entertaining media environments.
Content partnerships, including those with Bauer Media, were forged, and 40 pieces of bespoke content were created and deployed across magazines, food websites, social media and a branded online hub. The strategy included participation in the inaugural Seasonal Supper.
That first Seasonal Supper or “The Ultimate Al Brown Dinner Party” as Metro writers like to call it, was held in Al Brown’s City Works Depot test kitchen. “As dusk fell, a five-course summer feast ensued, beginning with octopus carpaccio, chorizo and squid ink croutons, matched with a 2013 Summerhouse Verdelho,” says the Metro report. “Strangers became friends as they shared whole roasted turbot, piling it generously onto Huntley & Palmers Flatbread crackers and topping with wasabi custard.”
The series of magical evenings will repeat through winter and spring, creating marketing opportunities for a number of local brands.
As a category sponsor, the focus for Griffin’s was on having two of its Huntley & Palmers Flatbread flavours integrated into two recipes created by Al brown and served to the 50 influencers attending the intimate dinner.
While Brown experimented with the product in a new and innovative way, the event opened the conversation for Griffin’s with the invited influencers, enabling the brand owners to get in touch with key foodie personalities in an authentic environment. This kind of connection is unique in its ability to bring together marketers, influencers and consumers in a natural way. Seasonal Suppers created both the opportunity and the point of relevance.
The recipes were then made available through the power of Bauer in print (Metro and Taste magazines) online and in social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
“When you create something like this, there’s always a nervous moment when the social media goes live,” remarks Jessica Allan, activations manager at Bauer Media. “What will the reaction be? Especially with some of the more challenging flavour combinations, like jalapeño ice-cream sandwiches!”
As it turns out there were massive amounts of likes, shares, and comments on each post: “Dinner is served. The legend @albrownchef has done a number on us. #seasonalsuppers; #fuckthisisgood”; “Reallife Pinterest”; “Amazing”; “Soooooooo sick”; were just some of the online reactions that reiterated the feeling of “a visionary and warmly hospitable experience”.
Not only were the guests at the event heard saying that it was unique, special, and one of the best food experiences they’d ever had, but apparently the trifle Al Brown created was on a lot of Christmas tables.
Driving the message home
Guests were delivered a Huntley & Palmers product hamper the day after the event, cementing the brand association for Griffin’s Foods. A recipe collection on foodlove.co.nz, with social and EDM traffic drivers, continued to roll out over the following two months, with page views up at 6,656, unique views reaching 6,161 and time spent on the page averaging 2.53 minutes.
The print features in Metro and Taste rolled out in the summer issues with a focus on the recipes and Al Brown’s inspiration for the menu. Taste’s Facebook page reached 19,079 people, eliciting 237 likes, comments and shares for the Seasonal Suppers post.
Meanwhile the specific post for the whole roasted turbot with wasabi custard and green olive & lime tapenade served on Huntley & Palmers Flatbreads reached 19,511 people with 151 likes, comments and shares. Other Bauer titles like Fashion Quarterly magazine had similar reactions to Seasonal Suppers, while the Food to Love EDM, featuring the Turbot recipe went to 19,165 recipients.
For MBM’s Deb Brown, the Seasonal Suppers association was based on the insight that the audience was motivated by new food ideas (especially from revered foodie influencers). The strategy was to work with clever foodie folk, the credible sources of food inspiration, as a shortcut to driving discovery and preference for Huntley & Palmers New Flatbread crackers.
“Seasonal suppers allowed Huntley & Palmers to partner with these trendsetters to conceive brilliant, tantalising appetiser stimulus for entertaining occasions that showcased the upmarket, and artisan nature of Flatbreads in a totally unexpected way,” she says. “50 people touching, tasting and raving meant the client was very happy. The content strategy has worked so hard for us, smashing all sales targets and with unprecedented retailer demand. Griffin’s loved that Al Brown and his team were so inventive.”
Bauer has set the bar high with the first event, and now the media company wants to improve on that initial experience for both the brands that participate, and for the audiences. The media company intends to create a more immersive experience with more video, and photography that will take its viewers and readers right into the room.
An even more comprehensive content plan is currently being developed to demonstrate that participating brands are integral to the season – in other words, “you need these brands to experience the season at its best.”
Seasonal Suppers is just one of the events created by Bauer around international trends and brands New Zealanders love. Looking back at the Griffin’s experience, having Al Brown experiment with the product in a new and innovative way in front of such a prestigious audience of influencers has helped to cement Huntley & Palmers flat breads in the minds of foodies. Flatbread became the number two selling cracker in its first 12 weeks of launch and anyone looking for inspiration when entertaining and trying to create innovative and delicious food combinations will now have a head start.