MasterChef SA Starts Cooking

With Don’t Look Down’s digital content strategy and an innovative approach to the capture and rollout of additional footage, the debut season of MasterChef South Africa is off to a sizzling start.

In the run-up to the hotly-anticipated nationwide auditions for the first SA MasterChef series, Don’t Look Down implemented phase 1 in an online production for what is no doubt going to be the TV sensation of 2012 by setting up and managing official Facebook and Twitter properties.

These platforms are being used strategically to promote key happenings around MasterChef SA – driving wannabe super-cooks to the official M-Net holding site, which DLD populated with audition information, tips for entrants and frequently-asked questions.

The FAQs were backed up by interview clips shot with the show’s Culinary Producer, Arnold Tanzer, who put a friendly face to the sometimes daunting MasterChef entry criteria. In addition to expert advice for an audience already hungry for as much MasterChef as they can get, DLD also got Tanzer to prove that gastronomy has a funny side by asking him to tell us about his worst kitchen disasters.

The first auditions for MasterChef SA took place on Saturday 3 December at MonteCasino in Johannesburg, with around 1500 aspiring amateur cooks arriving with a variety of cold dishes in the hope of impressing a panel of professional chefs (these were followed by auditions in Cape Town on the 10th and Durban on the 17th). On the ground, Don’t Look Down’s team kept the online audience in touch with the day’s tasty activity by regularly updating Twitter and Facebook: publishing reminders of the audition details, retweets and photos illustrating the sense of occasion.

These real-time updates certainly amplified excitement around the series: with so many people talking about the show, both@MasterChefSA and #MasterChef SA trended on Twitter on 3 December – initially in Cape Town, then Johannesburg and finally, nationwide. Considering the show only goes to air towards the end of March 2012, this is an auspicious start.

In between live social updating, DLD trawled the queues with a camera asking entrants questions like ‘What’s in the cooler box?’ and showing them a variety of culinary term terms which they were asked to explain (‘What is haute cuisine?’ ‘What is molecular gastronomy?’ etc.) This resulted in half-a-dozen revealing and fun clips per region, which were highlighted on the website and social platforms in daily phases throughout the weeks following auditions.

The first clips published gave MasterChef wannabes in Cape Town and Durban some insight into the kinds of dishes might work, while the other clip elicited laughs aplenty as entrants tripped over both the pronunciation and meaning of phrases like molecular gastronomy!

Check out the cool clips shot and packaged by Don’t Look Down team on M-Net’s MasterChef SA site – in 2010 the company has already begun implementing the next compelling piece in strategy that’s set to make MasterChef as huge in cyberspace as it will be on air.

MasterChef SA premieres on M-Net on 20 March.