CHAMPAGNE, Vivaldi, fireworks and a gourmet picnic were the winning ingredients of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons' Food & Music of Genius promotion.
Some 2,000 visitors flocked to the grounds of Le Manoir last July to take part in a candlelit concert and picnic, an event organised in conjunction with Classic FM and Performing Arts Management, Britain's largest promoter of outdoor classical concerts.
The judges agreed that it was difficult for independents on a limited budget to come up with original marketing ideas. Sadly, this meant that many of this year's entries were overall business plans rather than individual campaigns.
Le Manoir stood out as the obvious winner because it was a single campaign which made clever use of available media to achieve its objectives, the judges decided.
The aim of the event was to provide a new source of business for the hotel as well as maintain and increase the commitment of its current guests.
The target market was the Classic FM audience, who had a similar lifestyle profile to Le Manoir's guests, subscribers to Performing Arts Management, and readers of Le Manoir's own newsletter, Le Petit Rapporteur.
What really impressed the judges was the tiny budget on which the campaign operated. Classic FM's Summer Festival of Music provided free advertising spots every week in June; promotion of the event in Le Petit Rapporteur was incorporated into the ongoing production costs of the newsletter, and 23,000 promotional A5 flyers distributed to names supplied by Performing Arts Management's database were sponsored by American Express.
Tickets costing £35 each went on sale at the end of May and sold out in two weeks, even before the picnic menu was published. Demand far outstripped supply and Blanc estimates that, had it been feasible, he could have sold twice as many tickets.
In the short term, the event achieved a net profit of £15,000 from sales of tickets, Champagne, concert T-shirts, candles and soft drinks. Long-term benefits include an extended marketing base of 2,500 names from ticket sales and would-be ticket holders.
The judges agreed Blanc's clever use of ideas could be adapted by other independents.
"He starts with a tremendous advantage (because he is so well-known) but even so, it was a campaign well executed. We hope other independents will be encouraged to think along the same lines," commented one judge. n