This year, our client Villeroy & Boch celebrates its 270th anniversary. And there is another anniversary: for 25 years now, Villeroy & Boch has been making baths and shower floors from its own premium solid surface material: Quaryl®. The material has been produced since 1993 at the Roden factory in Drenthe. 100% made in Holland! Most media relations know this, but have never seen the factory with their own eyes. The factory has never been open for the public or the media to see before. For us, the ‘Dutch’ anniversary was a good opportunity to investigate whether an exception could be made. And yes, we got the green light!

We invited about twenty good media relations (trade and consumer media) and organized a substantive program, in which the visit to the factory was of course the main event. We emphasized Dutch Design. The event was a success: the guests indicated that they found the exclusive look behind the scenes newsworthy and original and, each in their own way, shared the information and experience through their offline and online channels.

Why did we choose a press event?

There are several reasons to organize a press event. For us, the following were the most important:

By organizing a press event, we can put the Villeroy & Boch brand in the spotlight in a different way. The anniversary was a good occasion for this. Moreover, the press event allowed us to really let the visitors ‘experience’ the brand. Those present can see, feel and smell what is happening at Villeroy & Boch. And how passionately they work day in and day out on the most special collections and products. Some of those present had already visited the head office in Germany before, but the factory in the Netherlands was ‘unreachable’ for everyone until now.
Villeroy & Boch is an A-brand in the bathroom world. The brand is therefore regularly mentioned in magazines. As an agency, we are of course happy with that. But it is also important that we continue to strengthen the brand’s relationship with the press, so that Villeroy & Boch retains a certain trust. A look behind the scenes at the Villeroy & Boch factory is unique and therefore a bonus for the media relations.

Finally, we also had a newsworthy story to tell, that of the development and production of Quaryl® in the Netherlands. Which is important; you really need to have something to tell. Our media relations are very busy and receive many invitations for similar events. So if we organise something, it must have a ‘not to be missed’ factor. Moreover, we had to organise the event in the factory (that’s what it was all about) and that’s in Roden; for most press in the Netherlands not right next door. We had to make sure that everyone went home with a satisfied feeling; Villeroy & Boch really had to have something to say.

Who were there?

The objectives for the press event were clear: Villeroy & Boch wanted to offer its media relations something unique, which would strengthen the relationship with the media and resulting in more stories about the brand. Moreover, we wanted to bring the story of the unique Dutch product Quaryl® once again to the attention of the consumer. From these objectives it quickly became clear that the target group for the event was very diverse: we invited trade journals such as Installatie & Sanitair and Gawalo, but also the consumer press (including Eigen Huis & Interieur) and besides journalists from the printed media, the online influencers (Stek Magazine, Styling ID and Binti Home) could not be missed at this event. However, the event had to have a unique character, so we wanted to limit the group of attendees. Moreover, we could not receive more than 15 guests in the factory. With a nice invitation in an exciting gift box and a personal press lobby, we invited a select group of media relations. In our selection we of course looked closely at the type of medium and the matching target group: do themes such as ‘Dutch Design’, ‘technical insights’ and ‘development of special materials’ fit in with this? We have also listened to the wishes and requirements of our guests. The trade journal Cobouw, for example, indicated that they did want to be able to ask construction-related questions. And so we ensured the presence of an insider in this area.

Program, presentation and entourage

We came up with an interesting and original program, with the visit to the factory being the highlight of course. Besides the content of the program, the entourage and presentation is also important. Our guests had to feel welcome. At the same time, the presentation had to fit the brand, the type of event and those who organize the event. Jointly it was therefore decided that the entourage should be taken care of, but not too much embellishment. Small scale, conviviality, hospitality were the key factors.

And so the guests were personally received and shown around, good bites and drinks were provided, of course from cups of Villeroy & Boch and with its logo. And we didn’t roll out a blue carpet, but only put away two balloons, to give the event a festive touch. After the factory visit we took the group to the nearby Mensigne estate to enjoy a festive glass of bubbles and extensive high tea in Villeroy & Boch style. At the table both the guests and ourselves (the PR agency), the marketing department and insiders from the factory joined.

Aftercare

After the event, all attendees received a goodiebag containing of course a nice gift, but also, and that is just as important for us and for the attendees, a good press kit. The press kit consisted of a USB stick with (new) press releases and lots of photos. And the latter was very important. When organizing this press event, we had to deal with one complex factor which was the company rules of the factory in Roden. Phones or cameras are forbidden within the factory. And we know better than anyone what journalists want at a press event: right, take photos or make videos. So we arranged in advance that recent good factory photos were available, which we were allowed to share with the press. This way we could satisfy (almost) everyone. Unfortunately we were not allowed to share a moving image and that was disappointing for a few.

After the event we spoke to all participants personally and everyone was very impressed and satisfied with the event. A number of articles have already been published online.