Working with celebrity chefs can be beneficial to an experience when done right. If you’ve attended a live event in the recent past, chances are that the brand cooking up that experience put a fair amount of time and effort into offering a high-caliber spread. The explanation for it is simple: food can play a critical role in an attendee’s overall experience. And as cooking shows and competitions continue to dominate the airwaves, consumers are becoming more educated, and in turn, more demanding, when it comes to filling their bellies.
For a number of brands, the solution to the modern consumer’s high expectations is a celebrity chef partnership. In addition to delighting attendees with tasty dishes, this new genre of influencer holds the power of persuasion when it comes to conveying a brand’s messaging. Indeed, an entire website, the Celebrity Chef Network, is dedicated to pairing event organizers with the right celebrity chef. If your brand is looking to get in on the action, take a look at some best practices for leveraging these collaborations.
Drive Home Product Attributes
Food and beverage brands, take note. At an exclusive event in Manhattan, Pure Leaf Iced Tea partnered with “Top Chef” judge Gail Simmons to educate the media on the beverage’s “real” ingredients and how it can be enjoyed not just as a drink, but as culinary inspiration. Simmons offered a host of short cooking demonstrations inspired by the beverage, whipping up dishes like lemongrass-scented rice noodle salad (cooked in the iced tea) with mint and cilantro. The experience offered attendees expert insight on how the product can be leveraged beyond its intended purpose as a beverage, while authentically driving home brand messaging around the product’s fresh, simple ingredients and unique brewing process.
Consider Rising Stars
There are plenty of well-respected chefs who have yet to become a household name. From lesser known Michelin-star and James Beard award-winning chefs, to those rising the ranks but not often seen on TV, finding the right partner doesn’t have to be about the name. “It could easily be a restaurant name that you leverage for the partnership,” says Herb Karlitz, owner of Karlitz & Co., an event marketing agency focused on food experiences, festivals and partnerships. “Some of the hottest and hard-to-get reservations are where everybody knows the name, but nobody knows the chef.”
Make a Difference
Working with celebrity chefs is a great way for brands to tout their products or services with an authentic voice, but it can also be a means of fueling a brand’s philanthropic efforts. SPAM, for instance, works with Operation Gratitude to bring its letter-writing campaign to local communities, and to support its goal of sending its two millionth care package to U.S. military personnel by pledging a $1 donation for every letter written in-market and online at SPAM.com. To build buzz for the program, the brand partnered with celebrity chef Sunny Anderson, an Air Force veteran, who appeared all along the SPAMERICAN Food Truck Tour, showing her support for the cause and serving up her new recipe, Operation SPAM Gravy and Biscuits.
Enhance the Cooking Experience through Live Demos
2018 has already shown us several new and groundbreaking ways to elevate our day to day experiences through technology, and none was more apparent than the Google Assistant Playground at CES in Las Vegas this past January. One key feature was utilizing the way we interact with the connected appliances in our home—supporting everything from fridges and ovens, to washers and dryers, and even air purifiers. One area of the home in particular, the kitchen, has been enhanced to help aspiring chefs and busy families alike to step up their cooking game. To help demonstrate everything your new Google Assistant powered kitchen can do, the brand was working with celebrity chefs and Food Network stars Tyler Florence and Elizabeth Falkner during the 4-day show. Putting their own unique spin on your standard cooking show, the Google Cafe featured live cooking demos with each chef walking the attendee through how to execute their favorite recipe by interacting with the supported appliances. As an added bonus, each item was also distributed to the excited audience to sample the deliciousness all on their own.
Whether a brand is working with celebrity chefs to promote its products, educate its audience or something different altogether, finding a partner that aligns with the company’s personality and core values is key. Blindly choosing someone based solely on his or her celebrity status is never a sound strategy. So, do your research and determine exactly what you’d like the partnership to accomplish, and you’ll be well on your way to taking a bite out of the competition.
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