Season 14 was a whole new serving of Top Chef. For the first time, the Emmy-winning series brought the heat to Charleston, South Carolina, and fan-favorite alum cheftestants competed head-to-head with a fresh new crop of chefs for the coveted title of Top Chef. Our objective was to use Instagram to raise awareness and drive tune-in to Top Chef Charleston on Bravo by building buzz around the new and returning cheftestants, giving our feed a uniquely Southern flair and further expanding our established community of engaged #InstaChefs through strategic initiatives and fresh product releases on Instagram's part.
Welcome to Charleston, y'all! We set the table for Top Chef Charleston on Instagram by showcasing the city's Southern charm and serving up elevated content that appealed to Top Chef fans and foodies alike. By using a range of original food photography, GIFs, graphics, illustrations and sleek typography, we gave our a feed a Southern flair that paired perfectly with each episode — either by whetting fans' appetites for what's cooking or offering a second helping of memorable moments.
To build buzz around new and returning cheftestants and amplify a two-pronged press release strategy at the top of the season, we asked fans to #GuessTheChef by posting graphics that gave clues and outlined the seasoned chefs' silhouettes, while similar assets showcased new chefs with photos and foodie facts and stats. We further emphasized the returning chefs-vs.-rookies competition by showing the chefs in action and highlighting memorable quotes and moments for fans to savor.
Knowing behind-the-scenes content performs well on social, McBeard sent a social producer to the Top Chef set to capture Behind The Scenes photos and videos with the chefs and judges to be banked and used while in-season, mapping to storylines of specific episodes and providing additional exclusive storytelling, which fans could only see on our Instagram. By showcasing and tagging the cheftestants in our feed in this way, the Top Chef Instagram became a place where our cheftestants started to engage with foodies and fans personally, creating a direct, passionate dialogue during and after episodes.
We wanted to take full advantage of the new Instagram Story Feature to engage with fans in a unique and timely way, so we treated fans to an exclusive Graham Elliot Instagram Story, a fan favorite who joined the Top Chef Judges' Table for the first time in Season 14. In an Instagram story takeover, the famed chef candidly answered questions about Southern cooking, sacrifices he's made for his profession and more. His insights were accompanied by photos from his childhood and career. The campaign will feature a rollout of several additional Instagram stories that give fans exclusive behind the scenes access to content creation, How-To Recipes, and Cooking Terminology.
To seamlessly tie the show to tentpole foodie moments on Instagram, we created thumb-stopping holiday content with a Top Chef twist — including a Southern-style, stop-motion gingerbread home-sweet-home and a Feast of the Seven Fishes Thanksgiving spread featuring ingredients to tease an upcoming episode. Since our fans were hungry to create their own Top Chef-style dishes, our Instagram-only #TopChefTraditions asked fans to create and share their own family recipes, which we then regrammed as delicious UGC content.
By keeping #InstaChefs and food fans hungry for more Top Chef, our Instagram campaign supported and led up to one of the most-watched episodes of the season — serving up 2 million total viewers to Bravo. Over the course of the campaign, we strategically dished out fan- and foodie-focused content and initiatives that teased and tied to key episodic moments to drive tune in. In less than 6 weeks with 32 organic static posts and 4 organic videos shared from the Top Chef Instagram profile, we've increased average post engagements by 48%, generating a total of: