Jan 17, 2019 / by Alister Houghton


Relevance International helped The World’s 50 Best Restaurants to grow its international coverage and positive media recognition for its 2018 awards ceremony.

Campaign: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 awards
Client: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants
PR team: Relevance International
Timing: February-June 2018



The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the worldwide ranking scheme for high-quality dining, wanted to expand the amount of positive coverage – and the spread of coverage across the world – for its 16th annual awards ceremony, held in Bilbao, Spain in June 2018.

Relevance International was instructed to handle PR for the 2018 awards, and the agency created media interest in the lead up to the big event through a number of strategic initiatives.



  • Raise global awareness of the ceremony in Bilbao
  • Generate positive media coverage for the event


Strategy and implementation

Every fortnight from April onwards, Relevance International oversaw announcements of  the winners of individual awards in order to create a pipeline of editorial and digital content in the lead up to the awards ceremony. Categories included the BBVA Scholarship, Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award, Miele One to Watch, and Elit Vodka Best Female Chef.

The latter award was launched with a targeted international media lunch held at the winner’s restaurant in central London, with the location kept secret to build anticipation. Journalists from key markets, relevant to the winner’s background and other target countries, were invited.

This initial activity then fuelled a debate over the merits of such an award. The team set up an exclusive interview with Bloomberg, which alluded to the controversy and generated further coverage.

One week before the event, the team announced the top 51-100 list to help generate speculation – in both traditional media and on social platforms – about who would make the top 50.

Other activities organised around the awards included #50BestTalks, featuring top chefs discussing industry issues and trends; a ‘meet the chefs’ speed dating-style media event; an official press conference; a food-meets-art event; and press availability with individual chef winners for one-to-one meetings.

The agency also helped to manage the launch of a female advisory board, which saw seven of the world’s best female chefs come together for an open discussion around industry issues and brand initiatives, also addressing the controversy over whether it was right to have a Best Female Chef award.

To ensure as wide an audience as possible, the agency secured 21 broadcast stations – international, national and local – to attend and cover the main event. Mirroring the approach of The Oscars, and to open the event up to general consumers, people were able to follow the main ceremony on TV via a live stream on 19 June.

Reuters streamed the ceremony and agreed to an exclusive worldwide TV interview with the top-ranked restaurant on the night. This meant that The World’s 50 Best Restaurants became the first televised restaurant awards ceremony in the world. Other stations that covered the event included RAI 1, France 2, BBC World and Channel 5 Asia.

Overall, more than 300 members of the media attended the various events during awards week.



  • 59,601 pieces of coverage secured over five months – a 24% increase on 2017 (47,879).
  • Coverage was in 51 languages, a 6.25% increase on 2017, and 127 countries, a 9.5% increase. In four key markets alone, there were 125 pieces of broadcast coverage over one week (radio: 84, TV: 41).
  • The number of social media posts featuring The World’s 50 Best grew from 33,797 in the five months in 2017 to 53,717 across the same period in 2018. This was aided by a surge in social media activity during the live stream, as well as the attendance of influencer-ambassadors at the ceremony.
  • The Best Female Chef award campaign achieved 1,972 pieces of coverage.
  • Overall, 99% of coverage was positive, despite the controversy surrounding the Best Female Chef category.



Following the campaign, Relevance International became The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ first retained global agency of record.

Hélène Pietrini, director of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said: “During Relevance’s time working with us in our initial engagement, the firm achieved greater media exposure than ever received in the brand’s 16-year history.”

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About Alister Houghton

Alister Houghton is UK Content Marketing Manager at Cision, writing and commissioning thought leadership, interviews and opinion pieces covering the earned media, marketing and journalism spheres. As well as working in a variety of roles across the business, he has previously managed media and web content for the British American Football Association.