The International Cheese and Dairy Awards is held in July each year, within the Nantwich show which attracts some of the most renowned cheesemakers from the UK and around the world. Producers and retailers alike challenge each other for recognition and silverware on the first day, before consumers are invited to experience the products for themselves on day two.
Whilst the show is well established, trends are nonetheless ever-changing and our challenge is to keep the awards at the forefront of everyone’s minds, so in June our in-house events team made their way to London to set up an exclusive press launch. By welcoming over 150 people from leading tabloids to influential bloggers within the industry, we were able to celebrate and share a passion for one thing: award-winning cheese.
Our goal for the press event was to generate positive press coverage from relevant sources, increasing wider awareness and the overall profile of the awards. We also aimed to engage more people in the proceeding show in July, through attendance and even judging. In order to best achieve this, we had to make sure everything from the theme, venue and itinerary was a true reflection of what would be just around the corner at the show itself.
Choosing the event space was easy. Lumiere, in Southwark, had looked after us with the utmost care the previous year and so we decided to once again take advantage of their facilities. The venue boasts several rooms, each with their own character and personality; this year we chose the White Loft, a stylish, contemporary space that met our event criteria in full and we felt could easily be accentuated with subtle branding.
In the run up to the press event, we made use of the International Cheese and Dairy Awards social media channels to reach out to a host of food bloggers and invite them to indulge in some of the very best cheese available. Our social media strategy was to utilise Twitter to reach food bloggers based in London, for which we created bespoke graphics including facts about cheese, key sponsor features, weekly countdowns and canape spotlights. We also re-purposed write-ups from bloggers from the 2018 event to highlight what attendees could expect from the evening ahead.
Only 3 weeks to go until our exclusive press event! Reply to this tweet with your email address if you'd like more information... 👀 pic.twitter.com/8JUncWFLb2— International Cheese & Dairy Awards Press Event 🧀 (@ICA_PressEvent) May 22, 2019
On the night, we retweeted and liked all content shared from people at the event on the International Cheese & Dairy Awards official Twitter account as well as the separate account promoting the press event.
The team liaised with event sponsors in the build-up to the event to plan a range of supporting roles, from hosting to room décor and even canapes from sponsors’ products. These, alongside the items for dressing the room, were transported to Lumiere London on the morning of the press event.
Once the room was set, guests arrived from 5pm and were greeted with a tall glass of prosecco before they turned their attention to the array of cheeses laid out throughout the room. Soon after, waiting staff circulated the first batch of canapes whilst ensuring nobody’s glasses ran empty.
Chris Chisnall, Chairman of the Awards, welcomed the room by underlining their importance in the wider industry and encouraging everyone to enjoy the fabulous array of cheeses available. He then handed over to Charlie Turnbull, Director of Academy of Cheese, who educated guests on various aspects of the produce on offer and spoke about the launch of his new Heritage of Cheese Project. Lastly, the microphone was handed to Richard Paul, Sourcing Director at Bradburys, who provided some excellent cheese and wine pairings before inviting guests to get out there and sample the wares on offer.
Guests were then able to mingle with one another and work their way around the room, tasting new and unique cheeses; press and bloggers had the opportunity to speak with producers who had sponsored the event, whilst the camera crew had enlightening interviews with key speakers.
As the evening drew to a close our visitors began to filter out – but not without a final parting gift. As they collected their coats, they were each offered a goodie bag full of (yes, you guessed it) more award-winning cheese, along with recipe books, promotional gifts and the like. The sponsors’ generosity meant there was even enough cheese leftover to donate this to local food banks.
Guests’ feedback on the event included:
Charlie Turnbull, Academy of Cheese
“The ICA is an internationally recognised event and I have been part of the judging community at Nantwich for many years. This year I spoke at their London press event to a very engaged crowd who were excited to learn about and try new cheeses. The attendance was fantastic and there was an excellent atmosphere among the room from the moment guests arrived!”
Gregor Abell, Sales & Marketing Director, Joseph Heler
"A great opportunity to kick off the excitement and buzz of this year’s ICA to the capital and network with suppliers, bloggers, press and industry experts. No better way to whet the appetite than over a glass of wine and, of course, a plate of cheese!"
Eleanor Morris, Marketing Manager, Granarolo
"This is the first year Granarolo has attended the press event. As a key sponsor for 2019, the opportunity to have a separate press event allowed us one to one time with bloggers and press. A relaxed space offering the chance to sample products, take photos and share information on our range has resulted in fantastic coverage on Twitter. We have new connections that we can work with over the coming year as Granarolo launch more products in to the UK… We are already looking forward to 2020!"
We can’t wait to begin planning next year’s event, which we’re confident will be bigger and better than ever.
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