The pandemic has cut the holidays off since March, and with Covid-19 skyrocketing in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging families who do not live together to virtually take Thanksgiving this year. Brands need to follow suit with their consumer activations.
Kitchn, the sister site of Apartment Therapy, is hoping to get readers excited for the vacation this year with its first virtual Thanksgiving food festival. The recipe, food culture and kitchen design website will host interactive social segments for the audience on Instagram from November 14-15, focusing on Thanksgiving traditions, recipes and cooking demos, and led by Kitchn editors, renowned chefs and bakers.
The Food Festival gives Kitchn a chance to engage with consumers during the busiest time of the year. While November typically generates 90% more traffic for Apartment Therapy Media than the rest of the year, this year the company also reported a 98% year-over-year increase in traffic related to vacation content.
“We wanted to have an online consumer food festival that’s full of vacation excitement and energy, reminding people that cooking for the vacation can still be inspiring this year,” said Kitchn Editor-in-Chief Faith Durand. “We also wanted to create a multi-vocal event that viewed Thanksgiving from different family and cultural perspectives.”
The event program consists of live and recorded segments from IGTV, IG Live, and Instagram Stories, including a FaceTime session between Indian-American food writer Priya Krishna and her mother about her secret family recipe. a live “pie cam” in which four cake bakers demonstrate their specialties; and a “Side Dish Showdown” where the Kitchn editors determine the best Thanksgiving side.
Kitchn has brought in brand partners like QVC, Affirm, Cheese of Europe and Corelle Brands to run certain events as well.
QVC presenter Alberti Popaj shows the audience in 10 minutes how to create a table landscape. The network will also sponsor a segment on how to cook a whole Thanksgiving meal in a Dutch oven, and this or that on Instagram Stories, where audiences will be asked to choose between different QVC Thanksgiving products.
“A lot of the virtual events feel like work where you’re zooming in and sitting in front of a computer. We went in a different direction, ”said Durand. “The audience can stop by, eat something, or stay all day if they want.”
The Instagram-based festival follows Apartment Therapy’s first major virtual event in May, the Small / Cool Experience that the brand spawned from a physical pop-up in Brooklyn. Apartment Therapy Media reports that the event received 12 million impressions and nearly 2 million video views, as well as 36,000 live views. The company also reports that virtual events represented 5% of the company’s direct ad revenue in 2020, compared to 0% in 2019.
Lauren Murphy, vice president of brand innovation and strategy at Apartment Therapy Media, said it was important for the brand to monitor platform metrics and post-event audience surveys to determine the virtual event content that is resonating with consumers and what the brand is can improve.
“We want to provide the entertainment and service our audiences want,” Murphy said. “If we see baked content on the site spike, maybe we will rely on that at our next virtual event. We’ll take a look at what’s caught on the website and social media to see what our next virtual event theme could be. “
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