Sponsored by Molson Coors
The Academy of Food and Wine, which works to improve the status and awareness of F&B as a viable career choice, has given new meaning to that tired phrase "thinking outside the box".
Its social media campaign was created to raise awareness of front-of-house careers during the BBC2 series Michel Roux's Service. In fact, the idea for the TV programme itself, which ran for four weeks from January to February this year, was also generated by the academy. The eight-part series followed young unemployed people competing for two scholarships from the academy.
The challenge was that, even though the academy had come up with the idea, the BBC wouldn't allow it to publicise the series in advance or to give name checks. To get around this, the academy pulled out all the creative stops to generate a social media marketing campaign timed to activate as soon as the series hit the screens.
Initiatives included video interviews with industry gurus such as Silvano Giraldin, former maitre d' at Le Gavroche, blogs, the launch of a Facebook page, fact sheets, training videos and FAQs relating to each new skill the trainees picked up, such as laying tables and serving wine. Everything was ready to go as soon as each programme aired on the BBC.
In return for an investment of £10,000, the academy reckons it has had its busiest time in eight years. It saw 10,446 hits on the website in four weeks, a jump of in visitors of 81%. Equally important was the positive media coverage, including an article in Caterer and Hotelkeeper on the academy's new single professional qualification in front of house - similar to that offered to Michel's trainees on the programme.
The academy also maintained a strong Twitter presence throughout the four-week campaign, starting with 54 followers and ending with 981.
The result was that the campaign reached out to young people who may have lost their way in life and who saw the Michel Roux programme as an inspiration to change their lives. The campaign increased awareness of careers with the academy and drew attention to the website, without breaking BBC publicity guidelines.
The judges recognised that the academy had worked hard to ensure the campaign was fresh and original. "It was well planned and was a fabulous way to improve awareness to target audience," said Deborah Dhugga, general manager of Dukes hotel in London. "Too many people just do the same thing or copy each other."
Emma Benney, group marketing director at Malmaison & Hotel du Vin was equally impressed: "This year's winner was innovative in the execution of its campaign through social media, and demonstrated great success. It's an excellent campaign that formed the foundations of a much wider and worthy project for the hospitality industry."
â- Illegal Jack's Southwest Grill, Edinburgh
â- The Academy of Food and Wine Service â- The Atlantic Hotel, Jersey
Emma Benney, group marketing manager, Malmaison & Hotel du Vin
Debrah Dhugga, general manager, Dukes London
Mia Manson-Bishop, business development and marketing director, Delaware North Companies (UK)
Greg Ward, sales and marketing director, von Essen Hotels