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Food Connected

Food is the New Golf???

There was a really great article in the Wall Street Journal last week discussing how some real estate companies are turning to food festivals as an outlet to prospect customers and sell properties.  

“Food and Wine is the new Golf”, a broker in the article was quoted. 

The article continues on about how real estate companies are using food festivals, dinners parties, celebrity chefs and other epicurean events to tap into more affluent, cosmopolitan and community based audiences. 

As a culinary marketing agency, we talk about how food connected audiences (think foodie 2.0) are an important target for brands on a daily basis, but to see it so clearly written in the WSJ is an important step in the evolution of the culinary marketing industry. 

More often than not its assumed our agency works primarily with food and drinks brands.  While we certainly do our fair share of partnerships in those categories, the non-endemic brands are now becoming a bulk of our business and where the growth will come.  Traditional brand categories such as auto, financial services, insurance, wireless, technology, travel/tourism and hotels are utilizing elevated food & drink experiences as a hospitality platform AND building comprehensive strategies to speak to this highly coveted consumer. 

While I love the quote “Food & Wine is the New Golf”, I believe the influence, reach and power of culinary marketing has the potential to be far stronger than golf ever can be on its own.  #everyoneeats

Lonny Sweet

Would you like an appetizer with that new car??

Would you like an appetizer with that new car??

Remember the days (like last year) when the only thing to eat or drink while shopping for a new car was vending machine chips and coffee that tastes more like motor oil than an organic roast.  Well, that may be changing…welcome to the new foodie world order. 

In recent months we have seen a Lexus Restaurant, The Cadillac House and BMW Restaurant, all taking advantage of the passionate food connected consumer to open up new lines to customers, by creating unique hospitality venues and restaurants.  And it’s not just the auto companies.  Retailers like Urban Outfitters recently partnered with multiple chefs to create restaurants inside their stores, Macy’s opened the new Chef Street at their Herald Square location (they also have a great food court in Chicago) and of course IKEA is famous not only for their hand-blistering do-it-yourself furniture, but their Swedish meatballs and cinnamon buns.

So what’s with combination of food & retail?  Well, we think it just kind of makes sense.  One thing we all have in common is the need to eat.  Some of us put more emphasis on the quality of the food or the experience of the meal, but retailers are creatively using the tools of culinary marketing to find ways to drive traffic, create buzz, elevate their customers experience and ultimately sell more goods.   

The indicators points towards more and more brands using culinary marketing as a powerful tool in the shed when building out their strategic marketing plans.  We live in a new world where it is hard to break through and even harder to connect emotionally with consumers, and because of that, food is an amazing tool to help tell a different story and connect on a deeper level with consumers.   

That’s the new foodie world order, and we love it!

- Lonny Sweet

A Chef, an Athlete and a fan walked into a room...

One of the things I love about working with Chefs which differentiates from my past experience representing sports personalities (athletes, coaches and broadcasters), is the way fans interact with my clients when they meet them.  When I used to be out and about or at an autograph signing in my sports days, the conversations athletes had with fans, typically went something like this:

Fan:  Oh my god, “insert athlete name here”, I can’t believe it’s actually you.  I am a huge fan, love the “insert team name here” and have been a fan my whole life.
Athlete: Thank you, it’s great to meet you.
Fan: If you don't mind, can I get a picture with you? My brother will be so jealous.
Athlete: Sure, no problem
Fan: Thank you so much – take picture/sign autograph – Really appreciate it, good luck the rest of the season.

Most of the time, fans are always super jazzed, but they don’t have real conversations with the athletes because, while people may aspire to be an athlete, 99.9% of the time, it’s simply not attainable.  This disconnect from reality leaves little common ground to have a real conversation.

Conversely, working with Celebrity Chefs, here is what a typical interaction may look like (if they are not meeting at the restaurant):

Fan: Oh my god, Chef, I can’t believe it’s actually you.  I am a huge fan and just recently ate at your restaurant, the halibut dish was AMAZING.
Chef: Thank you so much, really appreciate it.  It's great to meet you, glad you liked the halibut.   That's one of my favorite dishes on the menu.
Fan: Do you mind if we get a picture and have you sign your cookbook?  We have been cooking from this book for a while, it’s got some great recipes in it.  The stuffed chicken is our favorite one, our kids love it and we have actually gotten them into the kitchen helping us out. They love it because they feel like little chefs.
Chef: That’s the way I started, my parents would get me involved in the kitchen whenever they could and I fell in love with it from there. The parfait is great for kids as well, you should check it out.
Fan: Yeah, we love that one too, but to be honest, we have a really hard time getting it to come out the right way.
Chef: One little trick I left out of the cookbook is to leave it in the fridge to set an extra hour, try that, it should help. And regardless, just have fun with it, that’s the most important ingredient.
Fan: Awesome, thank you so much and really appreciate the picture, my brother is going to be so jealous.

Depending on who the Chef is, often times the fan is just as jazzed to see the Chef, as they are the athlete.  The main difference though is, while being an award-winning chef is still very aspirational, because cooking is something people do every day and they can try to cook the chef's own recipes, its feels attainable. That subtle difference of feeling like you can make a dish by your favorite TV chef, allows the fan to feel like they have more in common with the chef and therefore, a deeper connection and more topics to talk about.