DeliciousWe interview Lloyd Cornwall of VWV Massive on bringing the Delicious Food & Music festival as well as dance music festival Tomorrowland, to South Africa

by Kim Penstone When Lloyd Cornwall first visited Neighbourgoods in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, he realised that he had stumbled right into a brand-new lifestyle grouping of South Africans. People whom, at first sight, would have very little in common, yet brought together by Neighbourgoods.

What he saw was a completely integrated crowd – in his words, white, black and Indian. Couples in their 30s. Families with young children. Lloyd CornwallOlder couples, with no children. And he started thinking about food.

A music man at heart, Cornwall is perhaps most famous for bringing the Ministry of Sound brand to South Africa. His company Massive recently joined forces with VWV, to create VWV Massive, which combines the entertainment and sponsorship expertise of Massive with South Africa’s biggest event company.

“Similar values”

“The thing that struck me most about the crowd at Neighbourgoods was that, although everyone looked so different, they seemed to have similar values,” says Cornwall. “So, in my mind, I created this new grouping called ‘hot adults’ – people who have disposable income, who keep up with trends no matter their age, and who like to get out and about, but who are also really discerning in terms of what will get them out. It has to be something special.

“In this case, the catalyst was food, but not just any food – artisan slow food, prepared from scratch with love.”

Cornwall has always believed that music brings people together, that it is the great unifier. But he admits that, in South Africa, it can also be a great divider – because different population groups have tended to listen to quite different music genres.

Unifying catalyst

He started wondering if food could be the new music, or at least if food and music could be symbiotically paired to create a unifying catalyst that would capture the attention of his ‘hot adults’. And so Delicious was born.

Over the weekend of 5 and 6 October this year, Johannesburg will play host to what Cornwall believes will be one of the most successful live events of the year. Described as a food festival for music lovers, or a music festival for food lovers, Delicious will not only bring three Michelin-starred chefs and their world-renowned restaurants to the country, but also the unique sounds of international superstars Jamiroquai.

In addition, it will feature an artisan food market comprising the very best of local slow food, as well as a secure Kids Zone, where children will not only be entertained by DSTV but also educated about healthy food choices.

Event highlight

But the highlight of the event is the appearance of UK celebrity chefs Aldo Zilli, Ed Baines and John Burton Race, who will showcase their skills through their signature pop-up restaurants: Aldo Zilli’s San Carlo Cicchetti, Ed Baines’ Randal and Aubin, and John Burton Race’s The John Burton Race Experience.

Using the event skills of VWV, VWV Massive will recreate these restaurants using ultra high-resolution photographs and state-of-the-art backdrops, allowing South Africans to not only indulge their tastebuds in globally-revered haute cuisine but also immerse all their senses in what looks set to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Of course, this experience all comes at a cost: reservations for the pop-up restaurants can be made for lunch and/or dinner at a cost of R900, while general admission entry will cost R380, and the kids zone is priced at R100 per child. Running over two days, catering to 10 000 each day, that’s a pretty penny for the organisers.

Comes at a cost

But then creating something of this ilk also comes at a cost – Cornwall puts the price ticket on Delicious at a minimum R15 million. And he doesn’t expect the event to make profit in its first year.

“But it’s not about the first year; most live events only come into profit in year three,” he says. Besides, he adds, the real trick to creating a successful event – which is one that will make it to year three! – is finding the right brand partners, and ensuring that these partnerships work for both the brands and the event.

This, says Cornwall, is the area where most live events fail dismally.

“There has been a real drop off in the brain power of brands, especially in South Africa, and especially when it comes to sponsorship,” he says. “Way too many brands pay a premium for an association with a live event, just slap their brand on that event, and then wonder why the sponsorship did nothing to move stock, or change brand image – or achieve any objectives.”

Not rocket science

It’s not rocket science, he points out. You have to make the event work for you.

This is Cornwall’s specialty, and he has some pretty big names to help Delicious get to year three – Checkers, Oceans Basket, Sunday Times, Sowetan and DStv, to name but a few. For each of these brands, Cornwall and his team have created an integrated marketing plan to ensure that they achieve set objectives, in this way assuring the future by effectively guaranteeing buy-in for next year’s event.

All the food for the three Michelin-star restaurants, for example, will be purchased at Checkers, a fact which will be revealed to diners on the menus, helping Checkers in its on-going bid to reposition into a higher LSM grouping.

Ocean Basket will host the event’s sushi bar, to help lift the brand’s association with sushi in the minds of the target market.

Very targeted objectives

There are also in-store competitions, sales promotions and Facebook campaigns – each with very targeted objectives.

“Live events can be quite scary for brands, because they are these living, breathing entities, and it can all go horribly wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing. But it’s precisely because they are living and breathing that they can have such a dramatic impact on your brand,” explains Cornwall.

It stands to reason. After all, it’s much more rewarding to interact with a living, breathing entity than an inanimate one.

If you think Cornwall is on the right track with Delicious, he’s on the fast-track with his next project, Tomorrowland. If you haven’t heard of it, Google it.

World’s biggest youth activation

It’s officially the world’s biggest youth activation, a dance music festival to date held only in Belgium, catering to over 180 000 people who fly to the festival in specially-chartered planes from countries around the globe. Tickets for the 2013 show sold out in one hour, and there are over 2.6 million people still on the waiting list.

VWV Massive has just bought the rights to stage Tomorrowland in South Africa, and it’s set to hit our shores in February 2015.

“It’s going to be the biggest thing to hit South Africa since the [2010 FIFA] World Cup,” Cornwall promises, with 12 000 inbound tourists expected to head to Cape Town for the event. Landscaping at the venue on Fairview (outside Paarl) has already started at a cost of R10 million; Cornwall takes a long-term view here, intending to build a world-standard festival site here.

The whole event will cost in the region of R120 million and aims to be transformative in how brands engage with the youth market. Watch this space!

Update 2013/09/18 9:55 am

VWV Massive statement on Tomorrowland event details

On Monday published an interview with VWV Massive MD Lloyd Cornwall. It contained information on two events in the process of being produced by VWV Massive including a South African version of  dance music festival Tomorrowland and food and wine festival Delicious. The published interview was based on the combined notes of two separate meetings with Cornwall, one with MarkLives editor Herman Manson, and a second with our Johannesburg reporter Kim Penstone.

Following a statement by Fairview Wine and Cheese on its Facebook page denying that the event will take place at its venue we asked Cornwall for further clarification on the status of the South African Tomorrowland event.

Cornwall has issued the following statement based on our request for further clarification:

“As you know we have been working on the staging of an international edition of the Tomorrowland event for some time now. There have been various rumours and stories in this regard from both industry and media. Some have been true and some have been based on hearsay.

You will know that to bring an event of this magnitude there needs to be a lengthy diligence process covering every aspect of the event. This would include venue, licensing, brand partnerships and consumer relevance. Whilst we have covered many of these areas, we are not ready to make any official announcements or offer further comment on the details of this magnificent event.

The interview published on was a fair reflection of our conversations with its journalists, but it should be noted that during the diligence process elements, including partnerships, are subject to change, and are therefore not final. The process of diligence is very detailed and should this conclude positively there will be an official announcement that will cover all the facts.”

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