Due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, the EHY PR team had to act quickly, efficiently and strategically to successfully pivot client plans and budgets to maintain momentum. Walnuts@Work Live was a great example of this practice. On October 28th, 2020 EHY launched the first ever plant-forward chef cooking challenge for their client California Walnuts. This was an innovative solution from an originally planned in-person signature event for the client. The goal was to maintain engagement with foodservice professionals and showcase the versatility of walnuts within center of the plate, plant-forward applications.
Encourage foodservice professionals to integrate walnuts into center of the plate, plant-forward culinary dishes through the creation of new and innovative recipes.
Create a conversation around the numerous culinary uses of California walnuts and provide education on the health benefits they provide.
Expose foodservice professionals to both the simple and sophisticated ways walnuts can be utilized and how they can be the star ingredient in a main dish or entree.
Bring together foodservice professionals in a time that has seen fragmentation and disruption in the industry due to COVID-19.
From planning to execution, this initiative was completed under four months, on a limited budget and exceeded KPI’s and client expectations.
With no previous experience in creating a virtual event, the agency was able to effectively utilize the skill sets of the agency’s cross functional teams- public relations, social media, creative and the accounts teams to create this one of a kind virtual cooking challenge experience.
The creation of this campaign involved a number of moving parts that included creating a strategy, creative components, foodservice industry outreach, partner negotiations with leading food industry magazine Flavor & The Menu, and promotion of the event across social media channels.
The successful execution of the live streamed cooking challenge showcased the agency’s ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with one another while creating numerous assets on a strict timeline.
The agency secured credible industry players like celebrity Chef Brian Duffy, Chef Juliet Greene of California Walnuts and Publisher/Editor-In-Chief Cathy Holley of popular foodie magazine, Flavor & The Menu to be moderators and judges for the Walnuts@Work Live event.
Walnuts@Work Live is an example of the agency’s commitment to creating innovative campaigns for their clients regardless of obstacles in place. In order to amplify promotional efforts for the event, the EHY PR team was able to negotiate a robust multi-month editorial partnership with Flavor & The Menu magazine on a shoestring budget of only $22K.
With the budget limitations, the PR team secured: several teaser recipe inspired e-blasts and multiple dedicated e-newsletters promoting the event, two full page print advertorials. The negotiated partnership helped increase event engagement by 40% to the food professionals audience, which led to a spike in event page views and registrations for the live cooking challenge as a whole.
Walnuts@Work Live led to the creation of 45 new plant-forward recipes with California Walnuts, and allowed the EHY PR team to add new and diverse plant-forward recipes to the growing plant-forward recipe database on the walnuts.org website. Each of these new recipes featured walnuts as the core ingredient in a variety of culinary applications to encourage chefs to use more walnuts on menus across foodservice channels.
This evergreen collection of recipes have been repurposed for other campaigns and programs, showcasing the positive long term returns of the campaign even after the end of the virtual event.
500+ chefs from all over the country were invited to participate in a preliminary recipe competition.The first 60 chefs to express interest in the event were sent a customized walnut “inspiration” box containing branded California walnut items.
This inspiration box mailing yielded in 45 plant-forward recipes, from which a panel of culinary and foodservice professionals selected the top 12. From these recipes, five of the best recipes utilizing California walnuts were selected.
These finalist chefs were invited to participate in a live streaming event (Walnuts at Work Live) where they were tasked with re-creating these dishes on camera for a chance to win a grand prize of $5,000 and the opportunity to give the equivalent amount to charity.
Secured high level foodservice professionals to participate in the event and strengthened relationships with numerous foodservice and culinary professionals through the planning and execution of Walnuts at Work Live.
Day of the event had a total of 776 unique registrations and 473 unique viewers surpassing the initial estimate of 200 food professionals tuning in.
The Livestream event page saw a total of 5,979+ page views.
Viewer engagement during the duration of the event remained high, with a total of 279 comments and 17 questions that were posted throughout the event. 290+ viewers submitted their vote, resulting in Chef Jason Heiselman taking home the win for his California Walnut Pot Pie.
In a survey that was conducted following the event, results indicated that 70% of viewers enjoyed watching the chefs creating the dishes and the plant-forward recipes that were featured. The survey also showed that people enjoyed the virtual format of the event, and 99% of viewers found the content of the challenge to be very helpful and educational.
Walnuts at Work Live helped bolster California walnut sales in 2020 compared to 2019.