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Mars Foodservice

Students aim for Mars landing

Mars Foodservice wanted aspiring chefs to know more about their products, so we devised and organised a student competition.

Strategy • Marketing • Event Management • Photography • Video

The Brief

Mars Foodservice wanted to show support for catering students in the first few years of their training, and highlight why using a quality rice and ready-made sauce should not just be reserved for making chilli con carne. Rawlingson Lane devised the concept of a national competition aimed at catering students, which clearly positioned the products for use at the mid to higher end of the market.

Mars Foodservice logo showing their Dolmio and Uncle Ben's brands.

The Project

A key part of the competition was to ensure that the brief would produce the desired results that Mars were looking for. We stipulated that at least one Dolmio Professional or Uncle Ben’s product should be used in one of the two dishes required, both of which should be suitable for a fine dining menu.

After we had written the initial brief, we communicated details of the Mars Student Catering Challenge via our in-house database of hospitality and catering lecturers at further and higher education establishments. In addition, we promoted the competition through key media in the form of targeted press releases.  

Full entry packs were distributed via email and posted to all lecturers, with an incentive offered for those entering more than three students. Ongoing communication took place with lecturers up to the deadline date of the competition, before entries were shortlisted by the judging panel to choose the eight students who would participate at the final.

A selection of assets from the competition: certificates, entry pack excerpts.

The decision was taken early on to hold the final within Salon Culinaire at Hotelympia, in order to showcase the competition at an event that attracts over 30k visitors. This not only gave the competition a platform, but also added credibility due to the high-profile nature of the Salon Culinaire event.

The final took place over an hour time period with full branding and exposure throughout. All recipes made use of at least one Dolmio Professional or Uncle Ben’s product with product on show throughout the final. The Mars product development chef was also interviewed during the event by the compere.

A collage of images including a selection of finished dishes, chefs cooking and winners posing for photos.

The Results

A competition that was so successful we are now in the planning stages for the fourth year of the event. Not only has the Mars Student Catering Challenge generated significant PR coverage over the years, it has also brought over 500 students into contact with the variety of Mars Foodservice products, whilst Salon Culinaire has given it the perfect platform from a credibility perspective. All finals are photographed and a short video created to help provide marketing material for the following year.

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