For the UK Flavour Association, reaching its centenary year in 2017 as Brexit loomed meant putting on a special celebration to boost the industry’s confidence and standing in the region. The Association wanted to mark this key milestone, while emphasising the important role of the British flavour industry as a whole.
Within nine months, our team drove and coordinated almost every aspect of the event, from setting the event theme, researching venues, designing and distributing invitations, liaising with industry media and speakers, to arranging photography and designing handouts, menus and place settings, in close collaboration with the Association’s event committee.
Our challenge was to organise an event fitting of the 100 year celebration on a tight budget, while communicating key messages to a broad audience of members and potential members, food and beverage manufacturers, trade media and British and European regulatory bodies, as well as the European Flavour and Fragrances Association (EFFA) and its members.
With a limited budget, it was difficult to secure a venue in central London and all the elements befitting of a prestige event, so we needed to think outside the box to ensure the event was slick, engaging and relevant. We decided to involve some of UK Flavour Association’s members to assist with bringing the first part of the event to life and we created a ‘sensory emporium’. This was made up of five different members of the Association showcasing how flavour perception impacts on taste, sight, texture/feel, smell and sound. Each displayed different interactive activities for guests to engage with, further reinforcing the theme of the event and showcasing the impact on our senses of flavour. The emporium provided the ideal entertainment for guests during the drinks reception and networking time at the beginning of the evening – it also tied in well with the topics covered by the event speaker, gastro scientist and psychologist, Professor Charles Spence.
Having researched a number of potential influencers, we and the event committee felt that Professor Charles Spence would be ideal. He is well known in the UK food industry for his collaboration with Heston Blumenthal and his research and work with global food and beverage brands gains a lot of interest in the media. As the head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University, he is a real British pioneer. We got in touch with Professor Spence and arranged for him to take part in the event, helping him to see the mutual benefits of doing so. His speech and involvement in the event provided a great hook for the media and inspired the guests, all of whom received a free copy of his book, Gastrophysics, after the event.
The event was a real success and the European delegation commented that it would set the standard for other flavour events going forward. The Chairman of the UK Flavour Association gave us the following feedback: “Last night couldn’t have been better. Well done and thank you for a really professional job.” The media activity surrounding the centenary event, plus interview and feature opportunities, generated 159,437 opportunities to see and strong relationships with key media for the Association.
But what did we learn from planning such a high profile event on a budget?
Senior account manager, Georgia Smith, explains: “When it comes to planning a prestigious event like this, the stakes are high. Any omission or mistake could have a really negative impact on the outcome. So for me, the most important thing is to ensure you have every last detail covered and every eventuality planned for. Our planning spreadsheets were truly something to behold, but they helped keep our minds at rest and made it really clear to everyone involved who was handling what and when. We also had a series of contingency plans in case anything significant went wrong. Testing all of the equipment on site during a recce was critical, as was having paper copies of every order, supplier and participant so we could chase things up and show proof of orders etc if needed on the day of the event. Luckily, it all went pretty smoothly and, afterwards, we felt a mixture of real accomplishment and a little bit of sadness that it was all over!”
Our work on this event has been nominated in the event of the year category at the 2018 PR Moment awards, Northern region.
If you are thinking of putting on a b2b event, large or small, get in touch to discuss how we might be able to support you.
By Louise Reid, Managing Director at The Scott Partnership.