At the heart of the industry and supported by more than 300 companies, GroceryAid is a benevolent fund which helps thousands of people who work or have worked in the grocery industry. The support they deliver aids people who have fallen on hard times financially or need help and advice with stress, mental health, and general counselling.
In collaboration with Waitrose, they host the annual Waitrose Garden Party, a special event attended by 1,400 guests from the grocery industry, aimed at raising money for its charity. This year, we were privileged to be selected as partners with GroceryAid to organise and execute this prestigious occasion.
The objective was to craft an event that surpassed previous years regarding engagement and experiential elements. We had to provide an exceptionally valued experience that would leave a lasting, positive impression and raise additional funds for the charity, furthering its impact and reach.
We began by asking ourselves what would truly resonate with an audience from the grocery industry.
The industry has faced significant upheaval due to economic factors, the surge in online shopping, and increased consumer demand for convenience, quality, and sustainability. Despite these challenges, the grocery industry remains a crucial pillar of the UK economy, employing millions and providing the essential food and household goods that families depend on daily.
Understanding these dynamics and their impact on the industry's workforce was fundamental to crafting an engaging, relevant and successful event.
So, what was our approach?
Experience: We aimed to thrill our audience with exploratory and captivating experiences.
Sustainability: We committed to weaving sustainability throughout every facet of the event - from our menu selections to our production methods and operational practices.
Transparency: We ensured the project was delivered with absolute transparency, clearly communicating all costs and giving insight into how we developed and executed the experience.
Our mission was to create an inclusive and immersive event with activities for everyone, the best food and drink, diverse company, and ample opportunities for fundraising. We strived to make it a sustainable gathering, avoiding single-use plastics, minimising food waste through carefully curated dishes, and supporting food banks with donations. We designed the entire evening around experiential 'Be There' moments, ensuring it stayed authentically true to the spirit of Waitrose & Partners.
Imagine an enchanting garden party, whimsical yet grounded. We surprised our guests with artistic installations that teased the imagination. We provided taste experiences that challenged the curious, inviting guests to venture beyond the familiar.
From pre-event communications to logistics, we transformed an empty field at the stunning Dorney Court into four distinctive areas, creating an exploratory journey from the beginning to the end of the evening. We meticulously crafted every element of the garden party, making the ordinary extraordinary.
Guests were greeted by a secret garden entrance nestled among wildflowers and foliage, a hidden passage into an English garden, modern yet with a touch of eccentricity. Playful photo opportunities featuring flamingos, pink elephants, and even human rose bushes spurred guests to celebrate and donate.
A vintage Chase and Singleton hot air balloon bar took centre stage in the reception space, amplifying the whimsy. The dining area, steeped in Victorian surrealism, was divided into five colour-themed zones. Each zone reflected the colours of Waitrose and GroceryAid, featuring sunshine yellow umbrellas, decadent red chandeliers, lush tropical greenery, dreamy blue clouds, and lavish pearls and gold.
We crafted a quality culinary experience, focusing on sustainable ingredients and processes. The ever-engaging Nick Grimshaw hosted an interactive after-dinner quiz, prompting guests to buy raffle tickets to win exceptional prizes from our brand sponsors, all contributing to the fundraising efforts.
The evening reached its zenith with a power-packed performance by Melanie C, whose energy ignited a party that lasted into the early hours.
Throughout the process, we fostered robust relationships with our clients at GroceryAid and the private owners of Dorney Court. We coordinated all suppliers and talent, ensuring a seamless experience. This event stood as a testament to what can be achieved with imagination, production prowess, and a commitment to creating an experience that leaves a lasting impression.