When Will Wag Wake-Up To Marketing?

12 Sep

When will Wag wake-up and ensure that food festivals they fund get the basics right? When will they insist that banners and poster around the town are an essential marketing tool? On Saturday 10th September I travelled to Llandeilo and as I knew my favourite coffee man was trading elsewhere I called into the town for a much needed coffee boost.

However my walk around Llandeilo was useful to me as I played my ‘spot the poster game’ but I didn’t win, failing to spot a single poster or flyer. As I wandered around Llandeilo, I also spoke to a few locals, but no-one knew anything about a food festival, or that it was running that very weekend. I had travelled from Newcastle Emlyn to Llandeilo without seeing a banner and I then drove from Llandeilo to Dinefwr before I saw my first banner and that was only when I had driven off the main road into Dinefwr itself  – and there was the sight of my first banner on their railings and fairly well hidden by branches!

The festival was organised by Menter Bro Dinefwr, the Welsh language initiative and community development agency, and its main objectives were to promote local produce for local people, support the local economy by attracting visitors to the area and to host an event that reflects the area’s linguistic and cultural nature. These are worthy objectives and much needed, but I’m at a loss as to how they hoped to attract local people and visitors to this event when basic signage was missing, and the town hadn’t been blitzed with posters and flyers. I have no idea what advertising took place, I knew about it only because it was one Wag’s list as a funded festival and they did receive £5,612.69 to help them.

On Friday I went onto from the Visit Carmarthenshire Website and got a   403 – Forbidden: Access is denied so I couldn’t find any information at all, but there again I’m only press with an interest in food!

I am totally fed-up of writing and writing about the same basic problems which so many festivals and markets fail to address. Wag in their ‘wisdom’ seem able to ignore these basics year after year but still keep forking out our money to help these events out. Wag get the message if you are putting money in then make it a directive that these events have to implement some standard PR & Marketing.

Organisers need reminding time and time again that festivals and markets are how producers ‘try’ to earn their living. It’s not a weekend break from them doing these events, they need to earn some money and can’t do that if you are unable to get people into your event. Once the people are in if the producers can’t make sales then that is seriously their problem, but up to that point it isn’t.  Wag if you can’t ensure this happens then don’t give them our money as funding.

I was at Llandeilo around 12.00 and our Best of Welsh & Borders food producers who had been brave enough, or silly enough, to take a stand had plenty of time to talk as we played our least favourite game of ‘spot the punter’. That was a waste of time because for hours we could only play ‘count the yellow jackets’ and they were plenty of those about!

I do hope that trade improved for those guys, but I was not impressed, in fact I was very disappointed, but not as much as if I’d taken my tradestand there, that’s for sure!!!


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  1. BEA

    October 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    no point holding your breath on this, Wag live in their own world – clueless about the basics of how life works
    they keep throwing money at festivals but they don’t follow through
    no signs, little advertising – it is a joke except it is our livelihoods

  2. Izzy

    October 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Has anyone asked the festival organisers WHY there is so little advertising????
    I have been told that WAG do not include advertising in any grant money awarded. Advertising in the media is so expensive, banners are printed and are only viable for that particlar event day.
    Not everyone knows about this blog, therefore don’t know what is being said, it’s just like talking behind peoples backs, perhaps it may be an idea to liaise with organisers rather than continually slate them.
    I am not saying that there shouldn’t be a discussions page, but, shouldn’t people be given the chance to defend themselves, perhaps you have Kath, I don’t know.
    I am not connected to any festival or WAG, I just enjoy the atmosphere, variety & good quality local food and have been to several this year.

  3. admin

    October 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Yes I have asked many organisers why they don’t do much advertising and many say no money for advertising – but they can find money for celebrity chefs. Wag used to state their funding could not be spent on advertising – they have not told me this rule still exists. But Wag funding does not include the money tradestands pay. I can’t agree advertising is expensive when I am told of a Welsh celebrity chef being paid £1k to cook at an event. If you think that banners are also too expensive then how are people going to know about the event?
    The people that know about this blog are readers of Welsh Country and our Best of Welsh & Borders producers – this blog is for them.
    I am sorry you feel that I am talking behind people’s backs and continually slate them. What I am doing when I attend festivals is then give my view and I disagreee that I continually slate them there is good and bad at festivals – but the bad issues: lack of signage, lack of posters, lack of flyers, lack of window displays in the towns, these problems have been there for years and are not improving.
    I’m not quite sure what you mean by liaise with organisers. Are you saying I should be doing this? Rather than it being Wag’s role after they spent £80k last year with Miller Research doing a festival survey?
    If it is then is does raise a few problems for me, I think the obvious one, is why should I approach every organiser and who would pay for my time? The next one would be why would organisers want my help? Please don’t think I’m that this is a flip comment, Welsh Country magazine has approached a number of festivals offering help and been turned down. The event that did want our help was Llanwrtyd Wells and we were media sponsors there for 6 years.
    The point of welshfoodbites is to give the food producers somewhere to talk and chat and raise their concerns. What I want from food festivals is that food producers are put first – don’t you feel they have a right when they pay their hard-earned cash up front that they are told – ‘we will not be the festival apart from in the local paper because we can’t afford it, we wont be having banners, flyers etc. because can’t afford – we are having a top chef though and he’s costing us …………………… If the producers had this information then they can choose whether to take a risk or just not attend. We must not forget this is the way producers earn their living, not the way they earn some pocket-money. I also think that food festival organisers should be on Google Alert so that they are aware of anything that is put up on the internet about them.
    I want two things from food festivals: that food producers have good events, every time and that Wag ensure that they get value for tax payers money.
    I’m really sorry if you think I’ve got it wrong

  4. Sian

    October 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Izzy’s views worry me.
    Firstly I think that all food organisers should know about Welsh Country magazine – it’s been going for years! It’s the only Welsh mag that devotes lots and lots of pages to local food and it’s the only media that really supports us producers. So if these guys were reading the mag, they’d know about welshfoodbites. Plus they should be on google alert too.
    I’m not sure if this happens or not, but if the organisers were doing a good job they should be inviting Kath to their event in the first place don’t you think?
    As for advertising – whatever wag say about how ‘our’ money is spent, they still have trade stand money to advertise with – often there is the door fees as well.
    If organisers aren’t going to advertising their event, then be up front and tell the traders, they can then decide whether or not to waste their time and money. Surely that’s fair. It’s got to such a difficult trading climate that traders are now working out this is information they should have from organisers.
    I don’t know how you dare suggest that Kath liaise with organisers, why should she? I don’t suppose wag pay her for doing this food work, so are you going to pay her for doing this?
    If wag are funding, then they have a responsibility to make sure the money is well-spent, not easy with their track record I know, but it is their role and duty.
    I think the other thing you are totally missing is that these reports tell it how it is. I agree it’s Kath’s view, but it’s also her blog. I actually find her reports constructive, but sad as so many basic things are still not being done and this has been going on for years and years. On either of wag’s two well-funded websites have you found any festivals reports there?
    We should never be content with our food festivals, we should always want them to be better and better. None are good enough to rest on their laurels and Abergavenny is a case in point.
    Sadly Izzy I feel you are being negative and cheeky asking Kath to do even more work for free.
    Ignore her Kath and I’ll see you at Cowbridge!!!!