This festival wasn’t something new. It was a great festival with a long history, but definitely needed some updating and promoting. This success story is all about creating a brand for an existing event/business and getting the message to the right audience to create demand for the event – and easily measurable results.
The Austin Mediterranean Festival is an annual celebration hosted by St. Elias church in downtown Austin as a fundraiser. This festival includes authentic Mediterranean food, wine and cocktails, live Greek music, dancing, singing, games and much more.
The agency was first hired in 2007 to promote the Austin Mediterranean Festival. The festival was entering its 75th year, and the organizers felt it was time to take the festival to a new level. The biggest challenge was working with a non-profit organization on a “church” budget to make an old event seem new, exciting and interesting beyond the church family to the greater Austin community.
This was a challenge we were ready to meet. Austin, as “foodie” as it is, does not host an international food festival, so we felt it was time to make “Medfest” accessible to the general public. Our task was to “increase and maximize attendance.” We gave ourselves the goal of creating a true brand for the festival, accumulating the interest of Austinites beyond the church family, and getting Austin media behind the event on a limited budget.
First, we created a brand for the festival including a new Greek-inspired festival logo and artwork. Our Creative Director designed a piece of art as the focal point featuring the 3 Greek dancers.
Second, we designed the rest of the creative around this new brand, including posters, print ads, flyers, tickets, and a menu.
Third, we got the word out on a small budget by leveraging media through the excitement of the event and participation as media sponsors of the festival. We tied in KUT (public) and KGSR (AAA) radio stations as sponsors with packages including recorded ads, live DJ reads, on-air interviews, ticket giveaways, promos and PSA’s. We tied in the Austin Chronicle as our print sponsor, leveraging extra coverage in their paper, and we ran ads in the Austin American Statesman and its entertainment pub, Xlent (now renamed Austin360).
The results were actually too good…seriously, too good. Attendance quadrupled from year to year. People were everywhere – eating, dancing, drinking, laughing. The event was a huge success – so much so that we actually had to scale down the promotions a bit in ’08. Our branding, marketing and advertising program put this event on the map and proved that Austin is ripe for a large international food festival. If you feel like creating one of those festivals, give us a call.
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