Albertsons Cos.' Jewel-Osco leveraged October’s designation as “Italian Heritage Month” to stage interactive “Festa Italiana” (Italian Party) events at four Chicagoland stores this month.
Each event starred one of four professional chefs who conducted live cooking demonstrations at a main sampling station set up in each store. For example, in the sole participating Chicago location, former judge on Food Network’s Iron Chef America Mario Rizzotti helped host the Festa Italiana on Oct. 13, preparing a "rigatoni meatball bake" using primarily Alessi ingredients, as well as Pellini Caffe espresso poured over vanilla ice cream. Televisions were positioned above the demo table to provide an aerial view to shoppers (a la the first-person view popularized by Buzzfeed’s Tasty). Participating SKUs were spotlighted on table displays positioned near the demonstrations and outfitted with red, white and green balloons.
The events also included:
- More than 20 tasting stations sampling “authentic” Italian foods and wines such as Unilever’s Talenti gelato and La Molisana’s pasta.
- Raffles and giveaways.
- Live Italian music courtesy of Salov S.p.A.’s Filippo Berio.
- In-store appearances by local iHeartRadio stations such as 103.5 Kiss FM.
- Savings opportunities.
Tasting stations varied from Jewel-assembled tables to showier tables decorated and assembled by sponsors including Cento Fine Foods and Filippo Berio. The back perimeters of stores were full of sampling stations, with options ranging from mini Italian meatball sandwiches and pizza to gelato, antipasto and wines.In the aforementioned Chicago location, endcaps facing the sampling stations stocked a slew of Italian SKUs from national brands (mostly sponsors). Near checkout, an A-Board was positioned in front of a raffle table where shoppers were given coupons, recipe handouts and, interestingly, samples from non-Italian brands such as Procter & Gamble's Gain and Downy Unstoppables. Multiple loudspeaker announcements promoted the raffle throughout the event.
Online support spanned a PDF flier detailing the four events, a Sept. 25 blog post via Jewel’s website (linking to the flier), an Oct. 9 email ad plugging the aforementioned meatball bake and which stores would be providing samples, and a slew of social media updates from Jewel as well as Chicago-based marketing agency GT Universe (which works with the chain on an ongoing basis) and participating local radio stations. Geo-locator event search engine sites including evensi.us and allevents.in also supported.
Other support included a special Big Book of Savings-like circular dedicated to the Festa Italiana, spotlighting each culinary expert attending as well as the Italian SKUs available at the grocer.
In related activity, Jewel tied in to “National Pasta Day” with multiple Facebook, Twitter and Instagram updates offering one free box of private-label Signature Select pasta to shoppers who said “Lots of Pasta” at checkout on Oct. 17, as part of the chain's #WordOfTheDay platform. The chain also dangled a free bag of Riviana Foods’ Creamette pasta and a free jar of Signature Select pasta sauce with purchase of John Morrell & Co.’s Armour meatballs. Social media updates as well as a feature in the chain's Oct. 17 circular supported the latter offer.
This isn’t the first time Jewel has held events to celebrate special holidays. Earlier this year, the chain tied in to April's designation as Earth Month with multiple in-store events – outdoing all other Albertsons chains.
Festa Italiana Lead Sponsors