CAMPAIGNS: Exhibition PR - Foodies sample a feast in Borough

Client: Southwark Festival

Client: Southwark Festival

PR Team: Melissa Kojan PR and Marketing

Campaign: Food Lovers’ Fair

Timescale: June -November 1998

Budget: Approximately. pounds 3,000 for printing and distribution


Borough Market is London’s oldest still-functioning covered market.

Historically, it has been known as ’London’s Larder’: a place where

exotic and good quality foods were available to Londoners.

Recently, as part of the Southwark Fair, an exhibition for food-lovers

was organised by food writer Henrietta Green, event organiser Lucie

Neame and public relations consultant Melissa Kojan at the market.

The idea behind the Food Lover’s Fair is to give foodies the chance to

meet the producers of the finest foods in Britain and, in turn, to give

the producers a chance to sell their wares.


To raise awareness of the Food Lovers’ Fair through the media, and

ensure a high level of attendance from the public. Also to raise

awareness of the Southwark Festival and Borough Market.


With no advertising budget, it was imperative that extensive media

coverage was secured prior to the event.

The organisers had a clear picture of the profile of person they wanted

to target - upmarket, big spending, dedicated food lovers - and had

extensive knowledge of the sector. Certain monthly magazines were

considered ideal channels, but the problem was the long lead time


Without exact details of which producers would be appearing at the fair,

Kojan used a celebrity angle to sell-in the story. The stars of BBC 2’s

cookery programme Two Fat Ladies were secured for the fair’s opening and

this was used as a hook.

Using Green’s contacts in the food industry, features were secured


The historic nature of Borough Market made the story appealing to

London’s local media, with a number of stories appearing in the run-up

to the fair.

Once word about the fair got out, book publishers were keen to get their

chef-authors, such as Sophie Grigson and Claudia Roden, involved in

cookery demonstrations, giving further celebrity stories.

At the last minute, the Two Fat Ladies’ famous motorcycle and sidecar

broke down, potentially ruining the opening photocall. However, the

crisis was averted when Kojan secured the services of a cow and goat

from Surrey Docks Farm. These were led through the market by the two

cooks, who then milked the goat.


With 30,000 people attending the fair and stallholders repeatedly

selling out of produce, the Food Lovers’ Fair was a huge success.

Over the three-day period, 1,000 lbs of sausages were sold by the Ginger

Pig stall, and Mrs Elizabeth King pork pies were selling at a rate of

one pie every 90 seconds. Stallholder research deemed the fair to be the

best of all those they attended around the country.

The campaign generated extensive coverage in the run-up to the


It featured in the Evening Standard on several occasions, including a

double-page spread on the day the fair began, and the Two Fat Ladies’

photocall was featured in the Financial Times. Other coverage included a

feature in BBC Good Food magazine and items in Time Out and Tatler.

Research among visitors revealed that media coverage was the main reason

people had attended the fair.


Without any significant budget, this campaign achieved a positive result

for the Southwark Festival. Using the tools that feature in every good

PR portfolio - solid media contacts, identifying and selling-in an

interesting story and the ability to think quickly in a crisis - it

showed the power that a well managed PR campaign can have.

The organisers are now seeking sponsorship for another event next year.

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