Luxury auto brand Infiniti is extending for a second year a partnership with American Express Publishing and Time Inc. that makes the automaker a sponsor of epicurean and lifestyle events around the country.
Infiniti will have vehicles at the events, and promote the festivals with a print and interactive digital media program called "Road to Inspiration."
Infiniti will tout the events, sponsored by Cooking Light, Food & Wine, Southern Living, Sunset and Travel + Leisure, in the magazines as well as on the Web and via social media channels.
At the dozen or so events, which start this weekend in Atlanta and run through the first quarter next year, Infiniti will have an "Inspiration Lounge" as its central brand experience on location. The exhibit includes things like culinary demonstrations by well-known chefs from the regions where the events take place, vehicle displays and other amenities. At some of the events, at which Infiniti will be promoting its new M Hybrid car, there may also be test drives.
At the first exhibition, this weekend's Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Infiniti will have Bryan Caswell, chef/owner of Reef, Stella Sola, Little Bigs and El Real Tex-Mex, exhibiting his culinary talents.
A sweepstakes component allows consumers to vie for a trip for two to a U.S. city famous for food. This sweepstakes will be promoted via a tag within the print creative, social media tools and at each event. Atlanta will be followed by a Sunset-sponsored event in San Francisco; a Food & Wine event in Los Angeles; Travel + Leisure's "Global Bazaar" in New York; Newport (R.I.) Mansions' Wine & Food Festival, a Sunset program in the central coast of California; a festival in Charleston, S.C., sponsored by Southern Living, a Food & Wine event in Las Vegas and finally, Cooking Light's San Diego Bay festival.
Meghan Murphy, manager of media and events at Nissan North America, said this year marks a big expansion of the first such partnership last year ("Supercharge Your Senses"), which involved touchstone events in five or six markets -- where, according to Murphy, Infiniti invited owners of competitive vehicles along with Infiniti owners.
She says this year's effort is intended to be simultaneously larger and more targeted. "Last year we also had inserts in Time, Inc. books but we included magazines like Golf and lifestyle magazines, not just epicurean magazines," she says. "It turned out really well but the scale was smaller. This year, we wanted to focus more on epicurean, and on owners of Infiniti vehicles rather than owners of competitive brands."
Murphy says the people who come to the festivals are a good match for Infiniti. At the Atlanta event, for example, which is expected to bring in around 5,000 attendees -- "consumers pay for tickets, which can be fairly pricey -- $225 per person for the Atlanta event -- so they are upscale consumers." Infiniti will have a one-page branded calendar of events in each of the magazines on which a QR code is placed where consumers with smartphones with the Microsoft Tag app can take a photo and get taken to a mobile Web site.
The partnership makes sense for Infiniti because the magazines and the festivals they are sponsoring "aren't 100% epicurean, which means a larger audience base, which is good for us because we want to reach broader target, as well," says Murphy, adding that the partnership will continue next fiscal year as Infiniti introduces the JX crossover.