It’s safe to say that 2023 has been off to a flying start for us here at Babelfís, after many smaller scale yet successful events, there was trojan work going on behind the scenes for an extra special project which launched in Cork City earlier this year.

Have you guessed what it is yet? That’s right, the highly anticipated Cork Whiskey Fest.

So, what was this event all about?

Cork Whiskey Fest 2023 was initiated by local Cork whiskey enthusiasts, Laurie and Sonya O’Dwyer, who were already active members within the country’s whiskey community, so there was no issues with communicating and attracting the whiskey lovers of Cork to their weekend festival. Our job was to make sure that everyone from Cork and beyond knew that Cork Whiskey Fest 2023 was a weekend not to be missed.  Our objective for this campaign was to increase brand awareness of the festival with the general public, outside of whiskey experts, groups, and societies.

Before deep diving into the marketing side of this campaign, let’s give you a little more insight into what was involved over the weekend’s events. The festival was a three-day event, held centrally at The VQ, across MacCurtain Street, Collins’ Barracks and St. Luke’s. The weekend would welcome hundreds of whiskey enthusiasts to the area with more than 30 events to choose from, ranging from tastings and masterclasses to cask-making demonstration, hands on workshops and whiskey walking tours of Cork. Festival co-founders wanted to share the message that this was a festival open to everyone – not just whiskey experts. Events would be guided by brand ambassadors, business owners and distillers, so attendees were in safe hands.

Now, that you know what the bones of the event looked like, let’s get into the nitty-gritty marketing.

Before we launched into what was an exciting few months of PR and communications, we worked closely with Laurie and Sonya on a full analysis of their desired outcomes and curated a cohesive and integrated plan that we believed would maximise the reach of the campaign, achieving above and beyond their set goals. With it being their first year running the festival, the possibilities of how we’d get the word out there seemed endless!

The plan began with a social media strategy, targeting a wide audience across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We had a continuous stream of content being pushed through the festival’s platforms, ensuring the information was detailed, yet dynamic when responding to ticket sales and press. We made sure we were always on the ball to inform event goers, of any updates such as locations of events, hosts and sold-out venues, we had content ready to go or if an event needed a little extra push, there was a strategy waiting to be used. Utilising a mix of static, carousel and video content, we made sure the audience was engaged and informed on what Cork Whiskey Fest had to offer.

Then again … not everyone has a presence on social media, right? So, to ensure this audience wasn’t missed out on, we engaged with both local news outlets such as CorkBeo and Cork Independent, as well as national press such as Irish Examiner and Virgin Media to get the word out about the festival through newspaper publications and online news outlets. Cast the net wide enough and you’re sure to catch something!

Whilst all this positive press was bouncing around, we got an unexpected call from … you guessed it – IRELANDAM! IrelandAM were intrigued in learn more about the whiskey festival, and we didn’t blame them – it was blowing up! With so much excitement now building around the festival, we were invited along to feature on the morning talk-show, where one of the festival co-founders would talk the country through everything his festival had to offer.

But we weren’t done there. To top this campaign off nicely, we wanted to officially launch the festival in the company of Ireland’s finest whiskey lovers through a co-ordinated event campaign. What better location to choose than The Shelbourne Bar on MacCurtain Street, where multiple festival events would be held throughout the weekend, including a unique Jameson Tasting. On the night in late February, with the countdown well and truly on for the weekend, we were joined by whiskey experts, writers, press and media. Ger Garland of Irish Distillers took us through a Redbreast and Jameson tasting, giving us a sneak peek into what we could expect from the festival weekend. Guests were welcomed with a Jameson and ginger ale on arrival, enjoyed two whiskey tastings and were sent home with an exciting press pack to remember the evening by. Contents of the pack included a Cork Whiskey Fest branded glass, samples from various distilleries involved with the festival, as well as, of course, a Tayto Crisp Sandwich.

We provided online coverage of the festival throughout the weekend to ensure whoever missed out on tickets this year would do everything in their power to not miss out next year. We’re excited to see how the festival expands over the coming years, given the success of their inaugural year at The VQ. Throughout the campaign, we reached over 150,000 people through various channels, grew following of their various online platform followings by 120%.

Each element of this campaign was hugely enjoyable to work on. If you think you might need some help on any of the areas of marketing mentioned in this post, I’m always looking for my next challenge! Don’t hesitate to ping me a mail to [email protected] to get chatting about what we can do for you.