When Korean celebrity chef Kim Poong skydived into Byron Bay in late April, it was amid excitement and anticipation of a fantastic promotional event that would tell the Australian macadamia story to a mass audience of Korean consumers.
Yet nobody could have predicted the runaway success it would turn out to be, or just how enamoured with our product and country Kim Poong and the Korean team would become.
The social media and PR activity generated by the event reached over 6 MILLION Korean consumers, with 17 stories appearing in South Korean media and Kim Poong and the bloggers collectively producing 11 blog and 74 social media posts. These are extraordinary results that exceeded all targets by a significant margin.
Hand-picked to perfection
A number of Korean influencers were considered as the focal point for this event. The final selection proved to be the perfect fit, with celebrity Kim Poong headlining the tour, accompanied by Korean power bloggers Elise and JinHyun Han.
Kim Poong is a South Korean celebrity chef and online comic artist. His laidback cooking style and easy-to-replicate recipes have made him a highly popular Korean media identity. Currently a cast member of variety show Please Take Care of My Refrigerator, he has also appeared in The Genius: Rules of the Game in 2013 and is now a regular on Korea’s Saturday Night Live with a thriving online fan club. Kim Poong has a huge following on social media and he currently boasts more than 200,000 Instagram followers, over 75,000 Facebook fans and 109,000 Twitter followers. Naver, the dominant Korean search engine, reported a monthly average of over 625,000 search results for Kim Poong in 2015.
JinHyun Han is one of South Korea’s few male power bloggers. A ‘daddy blogger’ and travel photographer, Han boasts an average of 12,000 visitors per day to his blog Newcula and has a social media following of over 180,000 including nearly 18,000 Instagram followers and 165,000 on Twitter.
Off to a flying start
‘Macadamia country’ in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales is abundant in natural beauty. Sky-diving above Byron Bay, Kim Poong, Elise and Han were able to gain a unique perspective of the lush green patchwork that makes up this part of the world – and get the adrenaline pumping at the same time! This proved to be a great way to get them in the mood for some macadamia fun.
“I love the scenery of this area,” said Kim Poong. “It is so different to Korea. Lots of greenery and blue sky&hellippeople in Australia must be so happy because it’s so beautiful here!” he said.
Shopping up a storm
A trip to a local Byron Bay supermarket had Kim Poong very excited as he explored the fresh produce and aisles of Australian grocery products. With professional videographers and photographers capturing his every move, he certainly ignited the curiosity of local shoppers!
Kim Poong was inspired by the quality of the fresh produce and devised new recipe ideas as he shopped in preparation for a live cooking demonstration the next day. He also discovered some of the fabulous Northern Rivers food brands available. Suffice to say, this part of the tour ran a little over time!
As rays of afternoon sun broke through the clouds, our guests were treated to a spectacular high tea set among the picturesque rows of macadamia trees at the Duck Creek orchard.
This proved to be a pivotal moment of the tour, with our Korean guests seeing macadamia nuts fresh from the tree for the very first time. After collecting a few from the orchard floor, a nutcracker was provided and Kim Poong enjoyed cracking the shell off the nut and eating the fresh kernel – something he later described as one of his favourite moments of the tour. “This was my first time trying macadamias fresh from the shell. I love that pure taste,” he said.
A delicious high tea was served, providing the first opportunity for our guests to sample some local sweet and savoury macadamia delicacies, including cucumber topped with macadamia pesto and marinated beef, chicken sandwiches with macadamia pesto and rum and raisin macadamia chocolate slice.
Duck Creek’s Operations Manager, Thomas Lombard, entertained Kim Poong, Elise and Han with an array of macadamia facts, covering everything from the growing cycle to different uses for discarded husks.
Kim Poong loved the tranquillity of the orchard and posted a photo of himself enjoying the high tea on Instagram, with a caption that translates as “I’m missing the pollution” – a humorous reference to how clean he found the air on the macadamia farm. This post alone achieved close to 5,000 likes and 128 comments!
In typical Aussie fashion, Thomas Lombard cheekily produced a golf club and invited our guests to hit a few unshelled macadamias across the orchard, creating a fun conclusion to the high tea. Or should that be high tee?
Poolside product showcase
The first evening enabled our Korean guests to personally meet with the manufacturers of some of Australia’s finest macadamia retail products.
A poolside cocktail function at the Elements of Byron resort featured product displays from attending marketers and a welcome address by AMS CEO Jolyon Burnett, in which he highlighted how delighted the industry was to have our Korean guests visiting and how important a market Korea has become for our product.
Kim Poong, Elise and Han were fascinated by the array of retail products on display, which included everything from flavoured macadamias to macadamia oil, breakfast cereal and beauty products.
As guests enjoyed live music and macadamia canapés, industry marketers offered samples for our guests to try and relayed the background and unique attributes of their retail products.
Cooking in the orchard kitchen
Day 2 of the tour saw Kim Poong, Elise and Han back in the macadamia orchard, this time at Brookfarm.
While Elise and Han embarked on a 4WD tour of the farm and surrounding rainforest with owner Martin Brook, Kim Poong conducted a fabulous live cooking demonstration set in the orchard, along with Brookfarm’s Eddie Brook.
The demonstration was professionally filmed, and it was fabulous to see Kim Poong in action, particularly in front of a camera. He had all the enthusiasm and animation one would expect from a celebrity chef, and whipped up a sensational spicy Korean noodle dish featuring macadamias.
A second recipe was then demonstrated, this time by Eddie, with Kim Poong assisting and keenly observing the preparation of an Australian seafood dish. Eddie showed Kim Poong how to intensify the flavour of macadamias by toasting them before pounding them into a macadamia pesto with fresh herbs and parmesan. He then char-grilled vegetables, snapper fillets and lemon halves on the barbecue, and served them with rocket and blistered cherry tomatoes drizzled in macadamia oil. The dish was finished with a generous serve of the toasted macadamias. Kim Poong, Elise and Han all sampled the finished product and wholeheartedly approved of the flavours.
The demonstration attracted strong local media coverage on NBN News and the front page of Rural Weekly.
The beauty of macadamias
After a busy morning, it was time for a change of pace and a little pampering, macadamia-style.
The location was Osprey Spa at Elements of Byron, where Nutritionist and Dietitian Nicole Senior greeted our guests. As Kim Poong, Elise and Han sipped herbal tea on day beds beneath the spa’s signature driftwood canopy, Nicole introduced them to the myriad health and beauty benefits that macadamias can offer and explained that macadamias are healthy for your body, both inside and out.
Macadamia oil is widely used in the cosmetic industry globally and Nicole explained that it’s valued for its high level of palmitoleic acid as well as its Vitamin E and squalene content. “Macadamia oil is similar in composition to natural skin oils, making it easy to absorb. It’s an excellent moisturiser and helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. You can also use it on your hair and nails,” she said. Nicole brought oil and body butter samples for the team to try on their own skin. Our guests loved the texture and subtle scent and were eager to ensure they had some to take home.
The spa session finished with each of the guests being treated to a massage using macadamia oil. They emerged relaxed and blogger Elise later remarked how wonderful her skin felt from the oil and that she loved how it was absorbed so easily without being greasy.
Our Korean guests were not familiar with the role macadamias can play in skin care, hair care and beauty, so this session played a major role in broadening their knowledge of our native nut’s applications.
Dining out: macadamia degustation
The end of day 2 saw our guests dining at award-winning restaurant Beach Byron Bay. Set on the beachfront near the famous Byron Bay lighthouse, the venue was booked for an exclusive degustation experience enjoyed by our guests and a selection of Australian macadamia growers.
Head Chef Daniel Watt greeted our Korean guests warmly and spent time chatting with Kim Poong. Every dish was sensational and the menu included delicacies such as foie gras and chicken magnum, puffed black rice, nori and macadamia crumb and later a macadamia semi freddo served with macadamia and cranberry muesli, honeycomb, macadamia powder and chocolate.
Farmers’ markets: tasting local flavours
At the Byron Bay Farmers’ Markets on day 3, our visitors dropped even deeper into the local fresh produce scene in which macadamias play such a critical role. They met more local producers, including Rainforest Foods, and sampled for the first time products such as macadamia spread, and macadamias flavoured with tamarind and garlic as well as locally produced honey and jams.
They were captivated by the rich and colourful display of produce available, particularly the different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and eagerly tasted the samples that were generously offered by growers.
Walking on the wild side at Macadamia Castle
Local attraction Macadamia Castle proved to be a highlight of the tour, with Kim Poong, Elise and Han relishing the chance to get up close to Australian wildlife, even the less friendly varieties!
Kim Poong pushed through his initial fear to pat a baby crocodile and have a sizeable black-headed python wrapped around his body and he tested his strength by holding Minnie the not-so-mini wombat, while delivering a piece to camera!
In addition to its wildlife fun park, Macadamia Castle retails a huge range of macadamia culinary and beauty products. It was here that our guests were able to grasp the breadth of the macadamia product offering, and make some all-important purchases to take back to Korea, with Kim Poong later posting an image of his impressive product haul on Instagram.
Here’s cheers to macadamias
With so much time spent focusing on food, it was time to balance things out with a visit to local brewhouse Stone and Wood. Here our guests were treated to a tour of the brewery and a quick lesson in beer making before taking a seat in the dappled afternoon sun for a spot of beer tasting.
Each brew was matched with carefully selected macadamias – a different macadamia flavour for each beer! The macadamia selection included chilli, hickory, wasabi, Kashmiri and sour cream. What better way to experience all the different flavours macadamias can pair with?
Hunting for macadamia treasure
Our last day with Kim Poong, Elise and Han featured a ‘treasure hunt’ around the centre of Byron Bay, to a range of cafes and restaurants that serve macadamia delicacies. Our guests were given a map and tasked with finding the macadamias on each menu.
Dishes included buckwheat and chia hotcakes served with vanilla-infused mascarpone and macadamias, pulled pork salad with macadamias and salted caramel and macadamia gelato. Every dish was a hit, with the mango and macadamia salad from Leaf & Grain proving to be the unanimous favourite.
The event has exceeded all expectations and KPIs, generating reach of over 6 million South Korean consumers.
Facebook: the combined reach of posts on the Facebook pages of Australian Macadamias (Korea), and Kim Poong was 207,000. Kim Poong filmed a series of Facebook video quizzes throughout the tour, which featured on the Australian Macadamias page as fun competitions for our fans, with macadamia prizes on offer. These generated excellent engagement.
Instagram & Twitter: Kim Poong, Elise and Han collectively posted 34 times on Instagram and 6 times on Twitter, generating reach of almost 390,000. Highlights included Kim Poong’s high tea and wombat posts and Elise’s cooking demonstration post.
Blog posts: Elise and Han produced a total of 11 blog posts about the event, generating reach of almost 170,000. Highlights included Han’s post about the Brookfarm orchard and Elise’s fabulous event wrap.
Local media: the event attracted local media interest as well, with NBN News, Prime 7, ABC Rural, Northern Star and Rural Weekly attending various parts of the tour.
This was the one of the most successful events we have hosted to date. Our guests were highly engaged with every element of the tour, and this translated into high quality social media and PR content. It was a delight to host Kim Poong, Elise and Han and to have the opportunity to demonstrate the many aspects of our wonderful product, introduce them to some of the amazing people who make up our industry and show them around macadamia country – one of the most beautiful spots in Australia.
We look forward to taking this experience and applying our learnings to future events as we continue to share Australia’s native nut with the rest of the world.