Food Festivals Offer a Buffet of Benefits to Sponsors
4 minute read
- In order to differentiate within an increasingly crowded festival landscape, some festivals have incorporated other entertainment elements into their programming, which has led to increased interest from non-food sponsors.
- Food brands who sponsor food-focused events are given the opportunity to associate their product with world class cuisine.
- Some food festivals are major community events, offering sponsors an opportunity to connect with local communities in an authentic way.
Food festivals and food themed events have entered the mainstream. In Toronto alone, there will be nearly 50 food events taking place over the summer. Some of Canada’s most frequented food festivals such as Burlington’s Ribfest and Taste of Danforth boast over 100,000 visitors annually. Food also has the opportunity to bring people together. When there is food involved, the experience becomes inherently social. People are drawn to share experiences online – according to Eventbrite 84% of food festival-goers post pictures of their food online. Food and social media have become synonymous where millennials are the driving force behind this growing trend.
To stand out from the clutter, a number of these events are offering more than just cuisine but incorporating digital or social components as well. These festivals also provide sponsors with unique opportunities to connect with large audiences. MKTG outlined three distinct food festivals which all offer unique sponsor benefits.
Food Group #1:
Non-Endemic food brands can look to Hybrid Festivals as a sponsorable property
In an attempt to appeal to a larger audience, some food festivals look to incorporate other entertainment elements to expand their festival offering. These “hybrid” events are becoming more popular as they provide a unique multi-faceted experience for all attendees. For instance, The Big Feastival which is making its Canadian debut August 18th-20th at Burl's Creek, Ontario, incorporates complementary elements such as live music from popular bands and Canada’s best eats. These hybrid events have a broader appeal and can attract both a greater audience and sponsor interest. At the UK edition of Big Feastival, auto brand Renault was a major partner. Although they were not a food brand, they were able to integrate their product through food themed activations. In addition to displaying their line of family-friendly vehicles, Renault created the DJ BBQ food-truck that incorporated live entertainment and branded it as the ‘loudest food truck in the UK’. Renault also provided phone charge stations that tied into their Hybrid line-up. Finally, they offered VR test drives of their latest cars, creating an interactive experience for families. Despite being an auto brand, Renault was able to successfully integrate into the Big Feastival as the event attracted more than a food specific audience.
Food Group #2
Food-focused Festivals allow sponsors to associate their product with top chefs and internationally recognized cuisine
In addition to hybrid festivals, there are many festivals that focus solely on food making it the main attraction. These food-focused festivals provide a good opportunity for endemic brands to communicate that their product is of higher quality by associating it with other world class dishes. Earlier this month, the Taste of Toronto took place, providing activities, on-site sampling and creative activations from multiple food brands. Taste Festivals take place in over 20 cities around the world bringing in top chefs to provide a top-of-the-line eating experience. One of the festival’s partners; Metro, highlighted some of Toronto’s best chefs hosting and leading a hands-on cooking class using ingredients supplied by Metro. The Canadian food retailer had prominent signage throughout the class with all participants wearing Metro aprons and branding on the tables. With naming rights for the ‘Metro Master Class’; Metro used these experiential elements to increase awareness of their products available in its stores. Also, by sponsoring a food-focused event Metro was able to demonstrate their commitment to their product showing off their food at an internationally recognized food festival.
Food Group #3
Food Festivals with strong community or cultural ties provide sponsor the opportunity to show support for specific demographics
One of the most notable food festivals in Toronto is the Taste of the Danforth. Beginning in 1994, the festival has become a staple in Toronto attracting 1.65 million attendees annually. The festival is now a very important part of the community and something that people in the neighbourhood are passionate about. With access to this large audience, the festival offers sponsors an opportunity to show support for the local community. In partnership with MLSE, The Taste of Danforth featured interactive activities with Toronto’s major professional sports teams including the Raptors, Maple Leafs, and Toronto FC. MLSE’s has a history of inserting cultural elements through sport such as the special edition Toronto Raptor’s ‘Chinese New Year’ jerseys and Filipino Heritage Night. This partnership with The Taste of Danforth gives MLSE the opportunity to build ties in Toronto’s Greek community, stimulate tourism and support local businesses in one distinct location.
Another notable cultural food festival is Markham’s Night it Up! Festival. The event festival showcases a variety of Asian street eats complemented by live music entertainment, creating the feel of a Taiwanese or Hong Kong market. According to the website, the festival received over 130,000 attendees and over 114 booth vendors. The aim of the festival is to unite multiple Asian cultures while providing a unique fusion of cuisines. Sponsors have used this as an opportunity to create custom creative for the festival. This came to life through the people sponsors chose to showcase in their activations or by displaying their messaging in specific Asian languages.
Food festivals continue to be a popular event with a wide variety catering to a large number of people. The events also present sponsors with an opportunity to engage with a variety of people, providing a number of sponsor benefits. Consumer behaviour and technological changes are fueling industry growth and better live event experiences for audiences nationwide. Sponsors are now finding new and innovative ways to offer experiences to festivalgoers growing demand for personalization and greater choice. As the food festival season continues, sponsors will continue to look for ways to reach consumers through food festivals.