IRA gives Chicago a taste of inaugural food, wine festival

The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) launched Chicago's inaugural gourmet food and wine festival, Chicago Gourmet, in September.

The Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) launched Chicago's inaugural gourmet food and wine festival, Chicago Gourmet, in September. This took place only 10 weeks after The Taste of Chicago, a food festival co-hosted by the IRA and Chicago mayor's office.

In its first solo endeavor, the IRA sought for Chicago Gourmet to be positioned as a premier national food and wine event. But the challenge was to show it was on par with the top food and wine shows in the country and distinguish it from Taste of Chicago.

Strategy
“We had to define the event and generate a lot of buzz in a short amount of time,” says Sheila O'Grady, president of IRA. The association hired Resolute Consulting a month before the launch. The team then set out to generate buzz and awareness among foodies and wine lovers. The strategy involved giving foodies, journalists, and bloggers exclusive access prior to the event.

Tactics
Resolute Consulting developed a three-pronged approach to engage all key audiences. The team created messages for the president of IRA and individual chefs. It also created information packets, media kits, and customized talent biographies for more than 50 chefs. Media outreach included food critics, restaurant reviewers, features reporters, and talk show hosts, among others.

“Our team provided a focused and creative strategy... to achieving Chicago Gourmet's goals,” says Greg Goldner, founder and president of Resolute Consulting. The festival's Web site was also enhanced with a pressroom page, ticket listing, and ticket purchases.

Results
Resolute Consulting registered more than 150 reporters at the event alone and secured more than 12 million impressions, which contributed to securing more than 6,400 attendees over the three-day festival.

Future
IRA and Resolute Consulting maintain a working relationship and plan to do more projects together.

PR team: Illinois Restaurant Association and Resolute Consulting (both Chicago)

Campaign: Chicago Gourmet

Duration: September 1-30, 2008

Budget: $6,000

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