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Archive for the ‘Lifestyle Marketing’ Category

The start of the fall season means planning time for 2012 PR and marketing programs, so I’m pleased to release our 2012 event schedule of media events.

Click here to download the 2012 Food Fete Brochure.

2011 was a record year for Food Fête on several fronts, so we’re keeping with the health-focused events launched earlier this year, with one slight modification. Our regular Winter and Summer Events in San Francisco and New York City, respectively, will continue, as will the Allergen-Free event and Food Fête Chocolat.

The main change for 2012 is the “Healthy Foods for Kids” event will become a broader “Health & Nutrition” event, encompassing not only healthy foods for kids, but also glycemic-friendly foods for diabetics and heart healthy foods, for example.  The goal is to make the event accessible to more brands that are launching new, healthier foods in 2012.

The online exhibitor application for all of our 2012 events is also up, and can be accessed at http://fs19.formsite.com/foodfete/FoodFeteApplication2012/.

Drop me a line at jeff@foodfete.com with any questions.

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It’s sometimes hard to wrap my head around the fact that Food Fête is seven years old.  Food Fête is the single longest “job” I’ve ever had, though I don’t look at it that way at all.

It’s more like a baby I’m still nurturing.

What started in 2005 as a curious idea about how to combine my PR background with a personal interest in food and the culinary arts, has grown into a mainstay event of the food PR industry. We’ve been fortunate to showcase products from many start-up brands alongside the major brands that occupy coveted supermarket shelf space. I’m also humbled by the level of national food media who continue to attend each year.

Yep, there have been some missteps. I’m still trying to forget the summer of 2007 when the venue’s air conditioning broke on a blistering July day, and all I did was apologize for two hours.  Then there’s the wannabe media “party crashers” who apparently will do almost anything to get in just for free stuff.  Ask me sometime about the guy we had to chase down the back stairs and onto the street after sneaking in and stealing a gift bag.

The good news is that lessons learned from these “incidents” have made the event better with each passing year, and I recognize there’s always more to learn.

In looking back at that first NY Food Fête event, we had 26 exhibitors. Today, that number has doubled, along with the media attendance.  My challenges continue to be how to keep things fresh, which I believe we’ve accomplished this spring with our new health-focused events and the new all-chocolate Food Fête coming up this November.

I’ve also been working on some “back burner” ideas that I’m ready to bring to the front in 2012, and hope the industry continues to respond favorably to what we do.

With our big summer media event in New York City just three weeks away, we’re on track for another record event. This is the first year we’ve not framed Food Fête around the Summer Fancy Food Show, which has moved to Washington, D.C. for the next two years.

That connection has become less and less important for Food Fête, as food brands and PR agencies continue to find value in what we do, and keep coming back, regardless of whether they are participating in that industry show.

They say a 7-year itch is when people begin re-evaluating their relationship. My 7-year relationship with Food Fête is just fine, thank you, but that’s not to say I’m not itching to keep creating something new and different.

Keep watching.

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UPDATED (see new links to media/blog coverage below.)

Food Fête kicked off its seventh year on Monday, Jan. 17 in San Francisco with our annual West Coast media event.

It was our largest West Coast event in terms of exhibitors (26), with media attendance around 55 food writers and food bloggers.

Click here for the list of our exhibitors and their profiles.

Not surprisingly, dairy products continued to be well represented with 8 companies on hand including Tillamook Cheese, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, California Milk Advisory Board, Emmi Roth USA, BelGioioso Cheese, Chobani Greek Yogurt and Organic Valley.  I, fortunately, am not lactose intolerant, so…

I was glad to see some familiar faces among the media attendees including Amy Sherman (Cooking with Amy/BlackboardEats.com); Joanne Weir (JoanneWeir.com plus her numerous television cooking programs), Jolene Thym representing the Oakland Tribune and her ThePickyEater blog; Anna Wolfe from The Gourmet Retailer, Betty Teller (Napa Valley Register),  Jill Nussinow (TheVeggie Queen) and Richard Turcsik from Grocery Headquarters, among others.

Jane Maynard, one of our first-time blogger attendees, wins the prize for being the first to post her round-up of Food Fete and the Fancy Food Show.

UPDATE: Here are some additional posts:

I’ll continue to post links to coverage resulting from Food Fête here in the coming weeks and months.

We’re now shifting gears to our next two events, both taking place over the next  three months, and in New York City.  On March 1, we’re bringing together a collection of special products for the “Food for People with Food Allergies” event.  The “Healthy Foods for Kids” event takes place on April 25.

Here’s the link to the online application for all of our 2011 events: http://www.bit.ly/foodfete2011.

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I’m very excited about what’s been keeping me busy for the past couple of months–namely, pulling together our 2011 event schedule, which I’m happy to announce includes three completely new events, each focused on a specific health issue.

Here’s a link to the official press release: http://pitch.pe/84484

Since 2005, Food Fête has produced two press events annually — one in January in San Francisco, and the other in June in NYC — each timed alongside that big trade show known for “fancy” foods (Disclaimer: Their lawyers prefer I refrain from mentioning their name).  The one exception was last fall when I added a regional food event by taking a small collection of artisanal food products from Oregon to New York, which press attendees loved by the way.

That got me thinking.

Healthy eating and foods aimed at specific health conditions are flooding the pages of food magazines and blog posts, so maybe it’s time to create a platform for products that address specific health issues.  So, that’s what we’re doing. While we’ll continue producing our annual January and June events next year, we’re adding three new health-focused events in New York City, which will showcase:

  • food products for people with food allergies
  • healthy foods for kids
  • glycemic-friendly foods for diabetics

If you follow the specialty food industry, you probably already know the aforementioned food trade show is temporarily moving from New York City to Washington, D.C. in 2011 and 2012.  Based on my informal research with NYC-based media who regularly attend our events, there’s a good chance many won’t make the trip to D.C. due to tight work schedules and travel budgets.

That’s why our flagship summer event will remain in New York City for 2011 and 2012.  The San Francisco event is already scheduled for Monday, Jan. 17, 2011, and we’re still finalizing the date for the New York event in June.  By the way, our January and June events will not be themed, and open to all product categories.

If you’ve done the math, that means Food Fête is producing five events in 2011.

A couple of other changes are also in store for next year, which I’m anticipating could get mixed reviews.  First, we’re saying goodbye to the media gift bag as you’ve come to know it.  We’re a very lean operation, and given our expansion plans, I must commit every resource to producing the most meaningful events possible.  That means not spending time and manpower managing the logistics of receiving hundreds of cases of food products, then sorting and stuffing 175 bags in a matter of hours.

As Food Fête has grown, so have the challenges of creating the gift bag.  This past summer, we even tried outsourcing the gift bag assembly to a fulfillment house.  It sounded good on paper, but in trying to accommodate far too many exhibitors who missed the fulfillment shipping/delivery deadline, what should have been a time and resource-saver turned into, well, let’s just say the opposite of that.

I’m the first to recognize the sample distribution component of the gift bag is important to companies without the resources to do it themselves, so I am looking into alternatives that meet the same objectives, but without physically creating a bag.

For the past two summers, the gift bag has actually grown into two bags, which the media have commented are heavy and  cumbersome to deal with as they leave our venue.  We’re also attracting a growing number of perishable products at our events, which obviously cannot be added to the bag, so “schwag” gets substituted in their place — something I don’t want the gift bag to become.

On the positive side, exhibitors and their agencies will no longer have to deal with the cost and hassle of shipping cases of product, hoping it arrives on time and in tact — because sometimes it doesn’t.

We’re also eliminating the “Networking Level” participation option.  We typically have only a few participate at that level each event, and after evaluating the pros and cons, I’ve decided it no longer supports our growth strategy.  Since we’re eliminating the gift bag, the stand-alone, gift bag-only option is also gone.

My hope is all the positive changes will outweigh any perceived negative ones, and that everyone is looking forward to our new health focus in 2011. The media have already indicated they’ll support multiple themed events, so we’re anticipating a record year.

The 2011 event brochure will be available soon, at which time we’ll also be accepting applications for all of next year’s events.

Use the comments section to tell us what you think about our plans for 2011.

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I know I’ve been remiss in updating here, but the good news is I’ve been busy working on a new event with the wonderful women from BlogHer.

We’re co-producing a product showcase that doubles as the “Welcome Party” during the second annual BlogHer Food Conference (the conference is already sold out), taking place Oct. 8-9 in San Francisco.  Our event is from 6:30-9 pm on Friday, Oct. 8, where we will host up to 25 artisanal food and beverage companies.

Here’s a link to the release: http://pitch.pe/82721.

This event is slightly different from our “regular” Food Fete events in that it’s only open to BlogHer Food Conference attendees — about 300 food bloggers from across the U.S.  Because bloggers usually work independently and are so geographically dispersed, it’s not everyday that companies get a chance to meet this many food bloggers in one location, so we believe this is a pretty unique opportunity.

The sponsorship fee for a table to sample products is $2,000, and we’re already 50% sold out, so contact me if you’re interested in getting involved.

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It’s hard not to be just a little proud when food writer after food writer goes out of their way to tell me this was the best Food Fête yet.

Especially when I happen to agree.

Despite a little rain around the time Food Fête opened its doors Monday night, nearly 140 food journalists and food bloggers attended our sixth annual Food Fête event in New York on Monday to meet with our 55 exhibitors — record numbers on both fronts.  Particularly rewarding was when some of the most prominent names in food journalism walked through the door.

On hand were writers/producers from Food & Wine, O the Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Food Network, CNN Eatocracy (CNN’s new food blog), Martha Stewart Living, Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, CBS Sunday Morning, Huffington Post, CoolHunting.com, Epicurious.com, AOL/Slashfood, Family Circle, Real Simple, Parade, Parents, Woman’s Day, Woman’s World, Dessert Professional and TheNibble.com, to name a few.

Metrics aside, I believe the vibe and energy of the room made this particular Food Fête memorable. Among the comments from editors were how friendly, energetic and professional the exhibitors were; how we assembled a really strong mix of companies; and how Food Fete continues to be their favorite food event of the year (okay, I never get tired of hearing that.)

Some very early coverage has started to pop up, and I will update this listing in the coming days and weeks:

You can also read what some of our media attendees and exhibitors had to say by following the #FoodFete Twitter stream.

2011 will be a year of significant expansion for Food Fête, but I can’t reveal those details just yet.

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Our sixth annual Food Fête media event in New York City is just over a week away, and it’s simply going to be our biggest and best ever. I’m so proud of how this event has become a permanent “pin drop” on the map of must-attend food events.

We have a room-busting 53 companies on hand this summer to exhibit new products they’ve been working on this year.

I’m particularly excited to say that a good number of products are making their media debut at Food Fête — always a personal goal that makes our event as meaningful as possible for the press.

Speaking of press, we currently have 180+ planning to attend — another record.  More importantly, some of the industry’s most respected food writers are on the list.

Interest among food editors and bloggers has been so strong that for the first time, we won’t be accepting on-site media registrations — a tough spot for someone in my position to find themselves.

Here’s just a sampling of what’s in store:

  • Lots of dairy and cheese
  • Chocolate and chocolate-based products
  • Sustainability-focused meats
  • Healthy snack foods
  • Gluten-free foods
  • Functional beverages
  • Regional, artisanal vodka
  • Boutique wines from Washington state
  • Inspired kitchen wares with innovative functionality
  • New twists on old classics
  • Ingredient-based products
  • Premium sauces
  • Convenience foods for the home cook
  • Non-dairy (but dairy-inspired) foods
  • Energy/nutrition bars
  • Fruit spreads
  • Soft drinks
  • Foods with eco-friendy packaging
  • Indulgence foods
  • …and more!

Though it’s only June, I’m already working hard on 2011, which I can promise will be a pivotal year for my growing company.  I’m not ready to announce anything just yet, but I can say there will be more opportunities and new services in store that I hope the food press, food PR agencies and food marketers will embrace to make their jobs easier.

I need to start packing.

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