local media insider

Sarasota Manatee Originals expands concept

Native video program signs up for year two

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Advertiser: Sarasota Manatee Originals

Media: Observer Media Group, community weeklies & YourObserver.com
Campaign Title: In the Kitchen
Campaign Size: Roughly $67,000, including some trade
Key team: Leslie Gnaegy, Marketing Coordinator; Emily Walsh, Chief Digital Officer, and Eddie Kirsch, Web editor, Observer Media Group.

A long running native ad campaign started in 2013 by the Sarasota Observer for a local restaurant group, the Sarasota Manatees has expanded its concept this year.

The Manatees are an association of 50 plus  independently owned restaurants who collaborate to strengthen marketing efforts. In 2013, they agreed they to promote digitally and to include video. 

Walsh and Gnaegy mapped out a new strategy that combined video, multi-media and SEO: The creation of a series of "In the Kitchen" videos featuring member chefs  embedded in profiles on the Observer's site and promoted in print. The cost for the total program was about $67,000 in cash and trade.

The program was featured  as LocalMediaInsider  2013 Top Ad winner in a case study here.

By 2014, 52 restaurants shared in the program, and Sarasota Observer  wanted to keep the program fresh.

A new program, "Eat like a local" includes a series of 10 to 12 videos over the course of a year, that features documentary style shorts on visiting  local farms and fisherman to show how locally produced food is developed and distributed.  The first one starts with a trip to where clams are being gathered for sale to popular local seafood restaurants:



The local food program stays on the site for two weeks out of the month.

Over the holidays the videos created will be holiday specific such as what to do with the left overs, created by  the more personable chefs from the program.

For it's holiday cooking shows, The Observer has worked out an arrangement with the local hospitality college at the University of Southern Florida to use their test kitchen.

Formerly the Viking test kitchen, used by the home developer to showcase the line of appliances available, the culinary innovation lab is ideal for video: Clean, quiet and fully stocked. The university enjoys the extra promotion so everybody wins.

in the two weeks when no videos are created, the Observer will be running some of older videos from its' archive.

All the programs are cross promoted on the Sarasota-Manatees sites though the video is hosted on the Observer's YouTube channel.


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The total buy in cash and trade is about $67,000, but it's really considered content for the site. The videos run on the Observer's YouTube channel, though are available on restaurant websites and technically, the Observer could take the content down if the contracts were not renewed.

So  far, two years into the contract, this native program is working for all parties, including viewers.

Many thanks to Emily Walsh, CDO, and the team at the Sarasota Observer Group for sharing this campaign.

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