Challenge & Objectives
The Haymarket is Lincoln’s historic downtown district, and relies on fundraisers to continue its preservation. One of these is Chocolate Lover’s Fantasy, a chance for guests to sample from the best chefs in the city. Eleanor Creative brought sugar, spice, and strategy to the event to help make its virtual transition as smooth as melted chocolate.
The Haymarket is Lincoln, Nebraska’s historic downtown district, and relies on a few fundraisers every year to further their mission of continuing the economic development, revitalization, preservation, and growth of the district. One of these is the Chocolate Lover’s Fantasy event, which just completed its 37th year.
The event allows Lincolnites to mingle with and receive chocolatey samples from the top chefs and chocolatiers in the city. When the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person events impossible, the Haymarket had the opportunity to transform the event in a way that would help them attain financial goals, while also improving the quality of the event experience for both guests and chocolatiers.
Strategy & Tactics
Shifting the Chocolate Lover’s Fantasy event to a virtual setting created a greater degree of intimacy — where the in-person event existed as a kind of street fair, with guests milling through different vendor stands, but not getting any one-on-one time with the makers to discuss their craft, the virtual event was structured almost like a kind of dining room, with everyone sitting at the same table, and conversation was guided by our agency’s CEO and Creative Director — a space where chefs could share stories about the history of a grandmother’s chocolate pecan toffee recipe, or the method behind the savory-sweet pistachio bonbon.
Reaching all these guests demanded a digital campaign that used both organic and paid social media.
The 36th Annual Chocolate Lover’s Fantasy proved a rousing success as a virtual event. Chefs lauded the ease of the setting, the ability to really talk about their confections in a detailed and deeply personal way, and ticket holders appreciated being able to sample fine chocolate and wine from the comfort of their homes, instead of finding babysitters or heading out in the frigid Nebraska winter. Organic and paid social media marketing led to selling all 400 tickets to lucky dessert-lovers.
Looking forward into the future of the event, without pandemic restrictions, organizers are working to maintain a virtual aspect, so that the storytelling and community-building pieces aren’t lost with a return to in-person meeting.