Rising Star Chefs at the Ronzoni Pasta Party
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Rising Star Chefs at the Ronzoni Pasta Party

The annual New York City Marathon is known not only as a race for elite athletes from around the world, but also for its pre-race carbo-loading feast – the Ronzoni Pasta Party.

Paul Holmes

 

The annual New York City Marathon is known not only as a race for elite athletes from around the world, but also for its pre-race carbo-loading feast – the Ronzoni Pasta Party.  For the past 14 years, Ronzoni has sponsored the pre-race party, which takes place on the eve of the race and feeds the more than 16,000 runners who seek to fuel up for the big race.  After MMC succeeded in reinvigorating the annual event in 1999 by generating the “most significant media coverage in Ronzoni Pasta Party history,” according to the client, Ronzoni challenged MMC to a repeat performance in 2000.  MMC lived up to the lofty expectations by meeting Ronzoni’s high standards after raising the bar on media coverage in 1999.

CHALLENGE/OPPORTUNITY

Meet last year’s media coverage results despite the competition with three mega media events: the Presidential Election, Olympics and “Subway Series” World Series.

RESEARCH/PLANNING

Objectives:

  • Meet the 1999 program’s media coverage
  • Generate advance and event publicity for the NYC Marathon Ronzoni Pasta Party
  • Create a fun, fresh program that will clarify to consumers why Ronzoni sponsors the annual pasta party and educate consumers on pasta’s nutritional value 

Target:  Women, ages 25-45.  Women primarily purchase pasta for the household.

Through extensive research, MMC discovered the perfect source for creative recipe development for the Ronzoni Pasta Party: the students of NYC’s Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).  C-CAP is a national, non-profit organization that discovers talented, motivated inner-city teens interested in pursuing a career in the food service industry and provides them with the appropriate skills, including professional training, job placement and scholarships to culinary school.  Who better to feed thousands of hungry runners than the future of the NYC’s gastronomic elite?

STRATEGIES

Get the News Out Early… and Often!  Offer a series of media-appealing activities well in advance of the pasta party

I Feel Good!  Create a strong human interest story behind Ronzoni’s pasta party involvement

Put a Face with the Name  Grab media and consumer attention through the intriguing personalities and stories behind the recipe development

Nutritious AND Delicious  Serve up creative recipes that also demonstrate how pasta maximizes energy

EXECUTION

To score an A+ with media and consumers alike, Ronzoni enlisted the help of inner-city, high school chefs from the Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) to create the party’s pasta dishes.  Ronzoni launched a recipe contest which invited C-CAP students to submit their pasta dishes for a chance to win the ultimate “on-the-job training” – feeding thousands at the Ronzoni Pasta Party.  Four exceptional recipes were chosen by a panel of judges and bestowed the honor of feeding marathon runners from around the globe.  The panel of judges included four C-CAP affiliated chefs Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit (James Beard Award winner), Scott Campbell of Avenue, Matthew Maxwell of Hudson River Club and Patricia Williams of Butterfield 81.  To show their appreciation for the students’ hard work, Ronzoni established a scholarship for 2001 C-CAP graduates and awarded each finalist with a meal at one of NYC’s top restaurants.

Advance Publicity: To generate publicity for the contest leading up to the announcement of the finalists, Ronzoni utilized the star power of the four aforementioned chefs to serve as a voice for Ronzoni and the Pasta Party recipe contest to print and broadcast media.  Students from C-CAP also served as spokespeople by demonstrating their pasta recipe entries on-air and to print media.  The students and/or chefs appeared on WABC-TV, NBC’s “Today” show and WNYW-TV.

Press Conference: To announce the four winners, MMC invited the media to taste the winning recipes at a pre-pasta party press conference.  The four chef spokespersons announced the four winning recipes and reinforced Ronzoni’s link to C-CAP and the NYC Marathon.  To maximize event branding, we outfitted the students in Ronzoni chef jackets while presenting their winning pasta dishes.  In addition, Ronzoni presented the scholarship check to C-CAP board member Tim Zagat (of Zagat Restaurant Guides).  Press conference coverage included NY 1 News, WWOR-TV and Bloomberg Radio.  

Pasta Party: To dial up Ronzoni messaging, we offered an abundance of cooking-themed decorations and signage, as well as the presence of several students from the C-CAP program.  The visuals and students prompted reporters to explain the connection between the winning recipes, C-CAP and the brand, providing a natural closure to this story for viewers who had watched the recipe contest from the beginning.  Pasta Party media coverage highlights include WABC-TV, WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, WNYW-TV, WPIX-TV NY 1, WWOR-TV, Daily News and Newsday.

MMC prepared various story angles to pitch to the broadcast crews and print reporters who attended the Ronzoni Pasta Party.  1) Behind-the-scenes kitchen shots with the students and chefs stirring huge pots of pasta.  2) Chefs and students available to discuss the contest, rationale for the Ronzoni sponsorship and C-CAP.  3) Presentation by the students of their winning recipes.

RESULTS

MMC’s campaign achieved its goals by:

Matching the 1999 results by generating more than 21 million media impressions.  

Generating significant pre-Pasta Party publicity on one national TV program, four local TV stations and one national radio network.

Securing quality messaging (e.g. pasta nutrition, good taste, Ronzoni’s link to C-CAP) and in-depth visual and audio credits.  

The extensive media coverage was generated in less than two months and included 24 hits.  

Broadcast outlets include: NBC’s Today Show , NBC’s Sunday Today, WABC-TV, WNBC-TV, WCBS-TV, WNYW-TV, WPIX-TV, NY1, WWOR-TV, Bloomberg Radio, WINS-AM and WCBS-AM.
Print stories including a profile of one of the C-CAP winners in Newsday and a story on the winners and their recipes in the Daily News. 

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