#MarketingEventsAwards 2020 highlight: How Singapore Tourism Board turned its iconic food festival virtual

Singapore is a nation home to an interesting fusion of global cultures and ethnicities. This is best represented in the wide array of cuisines offered by many restaurants, to satisfy our ever-hungry and inquisitive taste buds, for new flavours and quality food.

Every year, an annual Singapore Food Festival (SFF) is held in Singapore. Singapore Food Festival celebrates Singapore’s best local food and talents, as well as its culinary heritage and innovation. Targeting both local and overseas audiences from around the region aged 24 to 34 years old and 40 to 49 years old, the event looks to not only connect with local Singaporeans, but also showcase Singapore’s culinary heritage to the rest of the world.

This year, collaborating with marketing agency Mojito Ventures, Singapore Tourism Board turned its biggest culinary showcase into a series of online activities. The event impressed the judges at this year’s Marketing Events Awards, and won the gold award for the Best Content Creation for a Virtual Event category, as well as the bronze award for Best Virtual Awards (B2C) category. Singapore Tourism Board and Mojito Ventures were also finalists in multiple categories: Best Immersive Experience, Best Innovative Transition – Physical to Virtual, and Best use of Live Streaming.

Challenge

The COVID-19 has brought all social interactions to a halt, resulting in the cancellation of many physical events. Slated for its 28th run, it was uncertain that the Singapore Food Festival would be able to proceed as planned.

However, determined to carry on the tradition of this annual event it saw food as the de facto national past time that unites everyone on all levels and brings comfort, Singapore Tourism Board and Mojito Ventures created the region’s first virtual Singapore Food Festival. The virtual event allowed communities, local and overseas, to continue enjoying the best of Singaporean talents and cuisine, despite travel and social restrictions.

Through the event, Singapore Tourism Board aimed to achieve the following:

  • Integrate online content with offline norms to create meaningful interactions
  • Engage audiences on new social commerce platforms
  • Create meaningful digital experiences for its current and future customers
  • Implement a turnkey technological system for an optimal user experience

Strategy

The event set out to achieve five objectives:

  1. Showcasing local talents in the culinary scene and arts
  2. Provide any window of opportunities for the dining industry
  3. Deepen the appreciation for our culinary heritage
  4. Facilitate culinary innovation and generate new avenues
  5. Brand and profile Singapore as a culinary destination

While past Singapore Food Festivals were conducted as physical events, audiences participation were confined to Q&As, food tasting or sit-down sessions where interaction could often be one-sided. So this year, the team had to think out of the box on how it can deliver engaging content yet encompassing the interaction and spontaneity of the audiences online.

In spite of moving SFF entirely online, it was also through this that allowed more opportunities for audiences to have a personal connection with the chefs. With pre-purchased ingredients kits delivered to them, participants were able to follow and cook along with our celebrity chef, for a multi-sensorial experience of sound, sight, smell, taste and touch all at the comfort of their own home. On the other hand, virtual food tours were also produced with the objectives of deeper engagement where participants were able to chart their own journeys with customisable route selection in the course of their journey viewing the videos.

Generally, the attendees of SFF would usually include physical tourists around the region and some have known to especially travel down to Singapore just for the event. In order not to neglect these segments of audiences, thoughts were put in place to keep them involved by having this regional showcase stay, but this is challenging as cross border travel is almost impossible. Hence, we introduced the concept of a four hands masterclass. In this masterclass, the ingredient boxes were sent internationally and we have two master chefs conducting the session in both their country of residence, allowing a sense of familiarity with their locals.

Execution

Starting with the media release via Zoom, invited media were greeted with breakfast in the form of limited-edition Milo Dinosaur Doughnuts from the Burnt Ends Bakery kitchen that was created especially for SFF2020. During the hour-long preview session, we ignited their culinary passions in a “show-and tell” sharing session where they experienced a mini live masterclass session by Michelin starred Chefs such as Dave Pynt (Burnt Ends Bakery) and Cheryl Koh (Tarte). On the same day of the press release, they received a second delivery of sweet treats by Tarte, timed to coincide with tea time, to conclude the day’s session

Singapore Tourism Board also held a series of the live masterclass, which allowed unfettered, personal access to favourite culinary personalities. To capture the audience and provide an optimal experience, our culinary partners adapted their content to an optimal format and pace for live screening, for viewers to be constantly engaged. The public can choose to participate either as a free viewer via Facebook, YouTube or they can choose to participate by pre-purchasing the ingredient kits to cook along with our chefs. For cook along with participants, they would have purchased the ingredient kits enabling them to cook together with our chefs. Throughout the session, participants will have exclusive access to channel any questions or clear their doubts with the featured chef.

Additionally, there was curated guided tours in an interactive format brings viewers on their personal journey to iconic locations in Singapore to uncover the hidden secrets of the Singaporean culinary heritage. Working with local celebrity Chua Enlai and local guides, the team brought viewers on a journey exploring the culturally rich estates of Katong, Joo Chiat, Chinatown, and Tanjong Pagar, which all have much to offer in terms of food to eat and sights to see. Viewers have the option to purchase the food packs featured in the tour in the eCommerce shop as well. This elevates and completes the experience to allow viewers to not only be able to see but also taste, smell, touch what was featured if they so desire.

A customised eCommerce platform was also developed to hold all the elements of this successful virtual SFF together. From listing of products to stock management, from customer service to last-mile fulfilment of ingredients and food packs by our delivery fleet, the eCommerce site presents a seamless user experience.

Results

Throughout the whole SFF, the team saw as many as 22 countries international touchpoints from around the region tuning in to the live streaming which many were glad that these master chefs were so willing to share their insights and tips when it comes to cooking. Many from overseas were also really gamed enough to join in the masterclass and participate along; despite not having the exact ingredients. This further sealed the idea of bringing SFF to their homes.