The tongue in cheek ‘Why #WFH (work from home) when you can #WFK (work from Knysna)?’ marketing campaign saw the return of seasoned festival goers alongside fresh faced first timers, with the re-imagined ‘Limited Edition’ yielding successful results in the face of the COVID-19 third wave.
With the campaign tagline ‘Stay, Work, Play’ – consumers were enticed to stay the full ten days due to being able to work with fully enabled WiFi and play by curating their own programme by selecting from unique experience available on the ‘Limited Edition’ programme. The predominantly digitally-driven campaign was supported by a paid-for PR component – targeting key domestic markets in Gauteng, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape – with Gauteng removed following the travel restriction imposed in late June.
Kicking off with the ‘awareness phase’, followed by the ‘consideration phase’ – the campaign saw 2.4 million unique users engaging with the content, with the majority of these users being based in Gauteng. Gauteng has always been a key domestic tourism market for the Western Cape, and the high engagement from the province shows the eagerness of Gauteng visitors to come and explore the Garden Route.
“This year we had a real opportunity to tap into a current truth: if you’re working from home, you could be working from anywhere,” explains Visit Knysna General Manager, Colleen Durant. “The Knysna Oyster Festival ‘Limited Edition’ proved to be the perfect antidote to the level 3 restrictions – allowing families to re-imagine their July winter getaway, re-connect with their family unit, and re-discover the beauty of the Garden Route through a select COVID-19 friendly programme,” she adds.
Reflecting on the curveball thrown by the announcement of the move to Alert Level 4, Festival Co-Ordinator, Andrew Finn, comments: “This year’s event organising was not without its challenges, but thanks to the committee already putting together a COVID- friendly event at the heart of the planning, we were able to seamlessly adapt the progamme to provide a ‘Limited Edition’ offering; it even saw us tapping into popular gaming trends through the introduction of the Knysna eSports Cup Challenge, featuring the popular video game Fortnite with teams from South Africa and neighbouring countries taking part.”
As this was the first time the programme was introducing an eSport, only 600 participants could be accommodated. However, the demand for participation was huge, showing a new category of experiences to be included in future programmes.
The semi-final and final rounds of this inaugural event was livestreamed from Knysna. South Africa’s youngest professional Fortnite player RoMike and his team participated live from Knysna, and the finals gained over 1 700 views from across the globe on YouTube.
Main sporting drawcards adjusted their formats, but runners could still run and cyclists pedal at their own leisure, tracking their performance via the Rouvy app.
“With three routes available on the Rouvy app, we received over 3 000 entries, with more than 2 000 active riders taking part in the virtual cycle tour – many of these being internationals, and 180 cyclists participating in the live virtual race held on Saturday 17 July.
Similarly, the Virtual Knysna Forest Marathon invited runners of all capabilities to tackle one of three route options: the traditional forest route of the marathon and half marathon routes from The Farm; or a flat route option leading competitors around a scenic tour of the town,” added Finn.
Offering flexibility, the events could be completed over the 10 days of the festival, with many locals and visitors taking part.
Knysna Executive Mayor, Elrick van Aswegen, thanked the organisers for their efforts saying, “It takes hard work, agility and dedication to pivot an event of this scale at the last minute. It is testament to the organisers’ dedication, community involvement and, more importantly, Knysna’s natural allure that the festival still drew great numbers of holiday makers and day trippers, offering them wonderful family outings, entertainment and activities.”
“The Knysna Oyster Festival has yet again shown its agility and resilience in the face of adversity. We are thrilled with the successful results of the marketing campaign, and the positive uptake from the public to the “Limited Edition” format. With the programme expanding to include new features such as eSports, we hope to see the popularity of the iconic festival grow, and welcome back old and new faces to the quaint seaside village at the Knysna Oyster Festival 2022,” concluded Acting CEO, Yaw Peprah.
Dates for the 2022 Knysna Oyster Festival are yet to be confirmed. Please visit www.knysnaoysterfestival.co.za for updates and information.
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