Publicizing and Promoting A Major Consumer Event
Situation: The Washington, D.C. International Wine & Food Festival enjoyed popularity, but primarily within the Washington, D.C. area hospitality industry. Following several years of “flat” attendance, the show managers at Resource Plus engaged the services of Brotman•Winter•Fried Communications (BWF) in the hopes of elevating the event to a whole new level. Featuring wines from different regions of the U.S. and from around the world, the event was designed as a combination industry and consumer event, but it had never sold out in all its years of operation.
Objectives: Resource Plus challenged BWF to find ways to heighten awareness and to drive show attendance without providing an increase in their marketing budget. While the producers enjoyed a strong relationship with The Washington Post, they did little beyond straight radio advertising buys and traditional media relations. BWF essentially started from scratch and recreated the entire marketing and promotional campaign for the show, integrating more promotions and special events with refined advertising, and placing greater emphasis on three new strategies – grass roots outreach, personal connections with wineries and social media.
Approach: BWF created a multi-phase campaign that began with the establishment of a media partnership between the show and The Washington Post and expanded that activity to include a select number of local radio stations and newspapers. The company also enlisted the participation of several celebrity chefs and the owner/operators of a handful of local (Northern Virginia-based) wineries and maximized their involvement by integrating them as media personalities, arranging for live appearances on morning radio shows, for guest segments on television news broadcasts and for advance interviews with newspapers and blogs, all in support of their appearances at the show. BWF also engaged in extensive marketing outreach efforts, offering discount admission tickets to local businesses, both those in close downtown proximity to the event venue (the Ronald Regan International Trade Center) and others throughout the region whose sheer size made such outreach worthwhile. BWF also pounded the pavement, hand delivering discount admission coupons to virtually every upscale wine retail store in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Suburban Maryland.
Results: Thanks to BWF’s involvement, Resource Plus got their wish. In the third year of our engagement, the show was “oversold,” so much so, in fact, patrons complained that the lines were too long. As a result, the following year, they limited tickets for the highest attended days and successfully spread the crowd across the two other days of the show. BWF’s involvement and participation turned a good event into a great – and highly successful – event.