How Tourism Australia turned the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards into a marketing machine

Case study: here’s how Tourism Australia’s brought the world’s most influential culinary professionals to Australia to inspire inform and earn their advocacy of our food and wine scene.

This article originally appeared in The Culture Issue, our August/September issue of Marketing magazine.

 

Project: Australia hosts the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 Awards (a phase of ‘Restaurant Australia’)

Brand: Tourism Australia

 

Background

MK0817 culture coverIn response to the growing global demand for food and wine experiences, Tourism Australia’s ‘There’s nothing like Australia’ campaign put the spotlight on Australian produce served in stunning locations.

In 2014 we launched the latest evolution of ‘There’s nothing like Australia’, with food and wine experiences from around the country playing a starring role. The campaign was based on the idea of Australia being the world’s greatest restaurant, ‘Restaurant Australia’.

To solidify Australia’s position as a must-visit gastronomic tourism destination, Tourism Australia (TA) needed to build on the momentum created by the first two phases of ‘Restaurant Australia’ – the highly successful Invite the World To Dinner event (2015) and the Noma Australia pop-up (2016), TA’s sponsorship of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 provided an opportunity to bring the world’s most influential food and wine people to Australia to inspire, inform and earn their advocacy of Australia’s food and wine scene.

 

Objectives

  • Contribute to the ‘Restaurant Australia’ campaign goals: improve perception of Australia as a food and wine holiday destination by those who have not visited, and double the growth in expenditure on food and wine to $1 billion by June 2018 (a growth of 10% each year off a base of $500 million in 2016),
  • continue to grow global awareness of Australia’s food and wine offering, driven by advocacy from the world’s top culinary personalities,
  • position TA as a leader in the culinary and travel space,
  • generate international media coverage about Australia as a food destination by bringing influential food and wine media to Australia to attend, write, broadcast and blog about The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards,
  • create a platform for all eight states and territories, and the food and wine and tourism industries, to create content, and
  • improve the overall presence and profile of Australian chefs and restaurants.

 

2016 Great Aussie Brunch – Neil Perry

 

Our KPIs included:

  • TA and/or Australia as host destination referenced in 80% of all coverage around the campaign,
  • 90% success rate of securing stories outlined in the media matrix and PR plan,
  • minimum of 15 international chefs from TA’s target markets agreeing to participate in media and content opportunities to promote Australia,
  • minimum equivalent advertising value (EAV) of $40 million for mentions of Australia in relation to the campaign,
  • minimum 15 chefs from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2017 to participate in famil programs,
  • all 26 Academy Chairs to participate in famils hosted by TA and the state tourism organisations, and
  • secure up to 30 targeted international media to attend the event and famil programs hosted by Tourism Australia and the state tourism organisations.

 

Peter Gilmore, Dan Hunter, Neil Perry, and Ben Shewry

Peter Gilmore, Dan Hunter, Neil Perry, and Ben Shewry

 

Strategy

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards is the largest celebration of global gastronomy and brings together hundreds of influential visionaries – including chefs, sommeliers and high-profile food media – from around the world. The annual ceremony is the most important event on the culinary calendar, and provides an annual ranking of the most exciting restaurants across the world.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants approached TA to pitch for the opportunity for Australia to be the host destination for the 2017 Awards. We convinced them that Australia would be the best destination for the Awards, making 2017 only the second time that the Awards had been held outside London in its 15-year history.

Hosting the Awards would provide a rare opportunity to showcase Australian produce, people and places to a group of highly influential individuals, and the opportunity to earn their advocacy for Australian food and wine. This would have a ripple effect through their channels of influence, helping to push Australia as a culinary destination.

The benefits of associating ‘Restaurant Australia’ with The World’s 50 Best Restaurants included:

  • association with a leading gastronomic brand,
  • positioning of brands associated with the Awards and List as leaders in the culinary and travel space,
  • engagement with leading chefs and key food, travel and lifestyle media,
  • opportunity to leverage major international media coverage,
  • a core event centrepiece for the food and wine event calendar, and
  • cross-platform channels to both the trade and AB consumer markets.

 

 

Ben Shewry, Joan Roca, Massimo Bottura, Daniel Humm, Heston Blumenthal

 

Execution

To maximise our investment in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants event program, TA ran an underpinning PR and advocacy strategy:

Advocacy

We chose a core group of food and wine ambassadors to drive earned media and advocate to our target audience, including culinary personalities, chefs, wine experts, local producers and Friends of Australia (TA’s ambassador program).

 

Events

Using the Awards as the focal point, we organised 11 events over eight days to create media moments that brought the destination message to life. These included laneway murals, beach barbecues, rooftop yum cha with an Aussie twist and many more. These provided talkability, encouraging visiting influencers
to post about their experiences on social media. The core event program for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants ran from 1 to 8 April 2017.

 

Content

Throughout the campaign, we created hundreds of hours of video content, tens of thousands of photos and hundreds of testimonials from the visiting influencers on their trips to Australia, which were critical in producing content for our earned and owned channels.

 

Famils

We designed and coordinated over 250 itineraries with bespoke experiences to create unique content that showcased food and wine experiences across Australia.

International media, chefs and influencers were able to select their preferred dates, destinations and experiences. The resulting famils created exceptional content, such as drone footage of a lunch on Victoria’s famous solid pink salt lake, wading through water to shuck oysters in Tasmania, and the forests of Adelaide Hills.

The famils also played a key role in extending The Awards in Australia as a national showcase, with exceptional culinary experiences and quality product in all eight states and territories, beyond the Awards events in Melbourne and Victoria.

 

Strategic partnerships

As the host country, TA held the overarching sponsorship contract, and negotiated additional partnerships to support the program including:

  • Official wine partner: Wine Australia
  • Official state partner: Visit Victoria
  • Official airline partner: Etihad Airways
  • Official hotel partner: QT Melbourne
  • Supporting hotel partner: Grand Hyatt Melbourne

 

Martin Benn, Shannon Bennett, Peter Gilmore, Lennox Hastie, Analies Gregory, Joack Zonfrilo – The Chef's Feast

Martin Benn, Shannon Bennett, Peter Gilmore, Lennox Hastie, Analies Gregory, Joack Zonfrilo – The Chef’s Feast

 

 

Results

Showcasing Australia’s food and wine culture, the events left a strong and lasting impression on the international audience of chefs, restaurateurs, winemakers, sommeliers and media, generating positive results for tourism. As of July 2017, we have succeeded in achieving all our KPIs:

  • Australia was referenced as the host destination in 85% of all coverage around The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017,
  • a 95% success rate of securing stories outlined in our PR plan, exceeding the target of 90% (a total of 4235 media articles with an audience reach of 4.4 billion),
  • 25 international chefs took part in trips around Australia, exceeding the target of 15,
  • $46 million in EAV has been generated from the PR program, exceeding the target of $40 million,
  • 75 international media were hosted, along with over 50 domestic media and the involvement of hundreds of local industry operators, and
  • all 26 Academy Chairs participated in famils hosted by Tourism Australia and the state tourism organisations.

Over 30 events were held by the tourism industry throughout Australia as a result of the project.

 

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