Kia, the auto brand best known for its affordable cars, earlier this year launched a series of “dine and drives” to raise awareness for the 2014 Cadenza, its entrée into the luxury car market. The eight-city tour dubbed The Cadenza Experience, took place at high-end restaurants and offered four-course meals prepared by a celebrity chef, and a truly high-end experience.
Event Marketer’s Sandy O’Loughlin earlier this summer attended a Cadenza Experience at Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark restaurant in New York City, which overlooks the East River. Following are some of the ways Kia drove the experience beyond the ordinary, and some ideas luxury marketers may want to adopt at their next events:
1. Limit attendance: The ride-and-drive, although it took place in busy Manhattan, never once felt crowded. Attendees registered to drive the cars in a spacious glass structure called The Cube, which was right next to the restaurant and offered a constant view of the shiny black Cadenzas in the circular driveway outside. People had plenty of room to roam around and enjoy “mocktails” and hors d’oeuvres before and after their ride until they were seated inside the restaurant.
2. Provide escorts: At every step of the way someone was on hand to greet attendees, make them feel welcome, help them into and out of their Cadenza, accompany them to the restaurant’s maître d’, engage in small talk and ask how the experience was going, making the whole thing feel warm and personal instead of like a marketing event.
3. Serve excellent food: And we mean excellent. Forget the cheese and crackers and mini meatballs. Kia’s appetizers included mounds of fresh shrimp and antipasto. Inside the restaurant, the printed menu especially prepared for this event offered a range of delectable choices. I went for the steak and braised short ribs, accompanied by a fresh salad and a marvelous Chilean cabernet sauvignon. The medley of chocolate desserts was to die for.
4. Create ambiance: The Credenzas outside of the restaurant made an immediate luxury statement that looked like it could be an ad in a glossy magazine, a feeling continued throughout the event, from start to finish. Other touches: the gigantic ice sculptures in the restaurant, the classy wait staff and an unobstructed view of the river. Kia branding was understated and elegant when in view.
4. Add a special touch: Attendees went on private tours of the chef’s kitchen. We got to speak with the chef, step into the refrigerator and see how he organizes his cuts of beef and chicken, fruits and veggies. We visited the restaurant’s Riverpark farm, which is right on site in a unique garden plaza and provides all the farm-to-table ingredients used in the dishes, and received a cookbook, signed by Colicchio himself.
5. Soft sell: There was no pressure to close a sale or make a deal, and with the luxury crowd, this tactic works every time. This event was so relaxing and tasteful, we were sorry to go home. Agency: RGM Group, Santa Monica, CA.