Lifetime of Holidays: Brand USA Product Development

In the decade leading up to 2017, the annual number of Australians and Kiwis visiting the United States more than doubled, reaching close to 5% of the population. Amazing right? But with such high penetration of the market achieved, how could we avoid the increasing potential for future trips to be delayed or redirected due to a “been there, done that” mentality? The answer: Diversification. We needed to transform the perception of the US as “The Holiday of a Lifetime” to one that would recognise the USA as offering a “Lifetime of Holidays”.

Hungry Eyes, Happy Travellers

If Instagram’s Explore tab has proven anything, it’s that beautifully presented food is a surefire hit for any publisher and is consistently amongst the high-performing content on social media, across all demographics.

Food is an integral part of all media; it’s both a universal need, common to everyone, and a luxury item, where one single ingredient, process or associated personality can set a meal apart.

In days gone by, print media discussions of food were often centred around high-end restaurant reviews almost exclusively covering more gourmet and expensive establishments, and hardly ever venturing to eateries more accessible to the average diner. When food blogs and social media pages launched, they exploded in popularity as audiences got a look into their local culinary scene directly from their phones and laptops.

Australian and New Zealand television cooking content was quickly elevated from midday, low-production-value programming to prime time ratings-busters.

Masterchef Australia, the most popular TV program in the genre, has at various times been the most-watched show by Australian audiences, and even in it’s 10th season in 2018 was drawing in huge ratings and significant media coverage.

Concurrently, travel content has become equally intertwined with food and culinary experiences. Booking.com found that 64% of travellers were choosing destinations due to, or or in large-part thanks to, culinary choices. Culinary content is now as much a part of travel media as sweeping vistas and iconic attractions, and equally able to elicit a strong emotional response from audiences.

When selling travel to Australian and New Zealand audiences, it only makes sense then, to leverage the audience’s passion for culinary programming to showcase a destination’s rich and unique culinary offerings.

Gate 7 has worked in close partnership with both Qantas and Masterchef Australia production company Endemol Shine, to showcase the culinary offerings of clients California and Japan through extensive broadcast integrations. With a production crew in excess of 65 people, five trucks worth of cargo, and an intense productions and logistics schedule, the challenges were many, but the results undeniable.

The key objective is of course to ensure that the combination of unique culinary experiences and iconic backdrops draw viewers in to want to travel, highlighting the intrinsic attractions of the destination and their culinary culture and bounty.

In 2016, Masterchef’s California Week showcased many destinations across the Golden State, painting a picture of California as a foodie’s heaven.

We worked hand in hand with five destinations across California, identifying and leveraging each of their culinary gems. San Diego, being so close to the Mexican border and having a large portion of Latino residents was highlighted through Mexi-Cali cuisine, while Napa Valley’s strong fine dining and wine traditions shone through, and Santa Monica’s food truck scene was the focus of a challenge for the contestants. San Francisco represented the farm-to-fork movement that California spawned, and Los Angeles let the audiences and contestants meet with Australian chef Curtis Stone in his restaurant Maude in Beverly Hills.

These emotive visuals, designed to get mouths salivating, were supplemented with iconic images from across some of California’s most well-known locations, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Santa Monica Pier.

The following year Gate 7 followed suit with a week long showcase of culinary Japan on Masterchef Australia. The production saw contestants cook off in a sweeping tea plantation in front of panoramic Mt Fuji, in a bustling, pantry sized street stall in Tokyo and at picture perfect Tateyama Castle with stunning views over Tateyama Bay. Contestants got a master class in making soba noodles and a host of magnificent Japanese vistas were backdrops to many scenes essentially showcasing Japan’s deep culture of respect for food and its presentation, a key driver of travel to the destination.

Activity surrounding these broadcast integrations is of coursed all integrated to leverage the broadcast investment as much as possible, with all channels from social to trade activations focussed on culinary messaging. Holistically this works to enhance the destinations reputuation and allure as a culinary hotspot, while also ensuring the availability and promotion of culinary focussed travel packages.

As inspiration behind travel transitions from the traditional ‘where to go’ mentality to ‘what to do’, travellers start to seek out specifics, like where and what to eat. This trend stretches well beyond the culinary space, with adventurers searching for tips on everything from art to music, film, and hikes. Prime-time broadcast opportunities that speak directly to these growing experience hungry audiences present a ready-made vehicle to intertwine destination messaging into broadcast narratives, and reach a mass audience to turn hungry eyes into happy travellers.