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.