GoogaMooga food festival outperforms a dismal billing

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Reviews from day one of the inaugural GoogaMooga food festival in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park were downright ugly. Gothamist advised attendees to:

  • Bring your own toilet paper
  • Prepare to wait 30-40 minutes in line for a wrist band so you can prove you’re over 21, and then an equally long time just to buy a beer
  • Expect the beer to run out

So we had low expectations on Sunday when we arrived — with hopes of selling toilet paper for beer money — to take advantage of our free admission ticket.  At 11:30 a.m., many of the restaurants that had paid festival organizers big bucks for food booths were not ready to serve yet.  Duh.

Lines for eateries run by celebrity chefs were long.  Others were tiny to non-existent.  Beer was plentiful. With temperatures in the high 70s and bright sunshine, the park’s shady spots were popular.

Most of the branding at the festival was for  restaurants, wineries and beermakers.  A few exceptions:

  • Toyota’s luxury arm Lexus bought a tent in the general admission area (not to be confused with the VIP area, where GoogaMooga extra tickets cost $249) and offered complimentary printing of photos shared via Instagram that carried a special hash tag for the festival.  The tent was also home to a damn good cup of coffee, served up by a crew from Third Rail. (I had beans from Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters.)
  • Wrigley’s Orbit “ambassadors” were handing out damp washcloths, though they would have been 100% more impressive if they were icy cold, like those handed out poolside at a Four Seasons resort.  The Orbits gals — I only saw women — carried around concession trays loaded with peppermint and spearmint gum and called festival goers “dirty mouth” to get their attention.
  • ARAMARK unit  Seamless tried to emphasize its roots as a hip New York food delivery brand by sponsoring the Restaurant 101 tent, where panel discussions throughout the day centered on topics line entrepreneurship and marketing.

Media coverage was strong for a  first-year festival.  But more amusing than the blog and print coverage was the fake Twitter feed, @googashmooga. PR was handled by 44 Communications, Rubenstein Communications and Big Hassle.

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