to attend the 2008 Marketing to African-Americans with Excellence (MAAX)
Summit? Order the workbook which contains hard copies of the presentations
made by some of the nation's top experts on the Black consumer marketing,
R. L. Polk
Starcom MediaVest Group
U.S. Census Bureau
2009 by Target Market News Inc. All rights reserved
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Festival a bright spot for tourism industry this summer By Jaquetta White
The Times-Picayune (June 28, 2009) With a stellar musical line-up, aggressive marketing
and a bevy of new events, the 15th annual Essence Music Festival is
expected to draw crowds larger than last year's despite the recession
and the loss of two longtime sponsors, Chevy and Budweiser.
The three-day festival, which begins July 3, is one of the few bright
spots on the hospitality industry's summer schedule.
Tickets sales are up almost 50 percent over this time last year, perhaps
presaging that this year's festival will be the most heavily attended
since Hurricane Katrina, said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence
Communications, the division of Time Inc. that owns the festival.
Ebanks attributes this year's success, in part, to the sense of
community the festival fosters among African-Americans, its target
audience. In addition to nightly concerts, Essence includes daily
empowerment seminars on topics ranging from family to personal finance.
"In times of difficulty, you need to come to the well to be refreshed,"
Ebanks said. "Essence is that well, allowing people to revitalize,
refocus and get filled."
Of course, there was also some strategy involved in boosting sales.
Essence announced one of this year's biggest acts, Beyonce, during last
year's festival and began selling its best seats in January, months
earlier than usual. The company has also been producing a concert
series, the Road to Essence Music Festival, in cities throughout the
country. Those efforts helped to motivate people not only to buy
tickets, but also to buy them earlier, Ebanks said.
The election of the nation's first black president might also have
contributed to anticipation of this year's event, Ebanks said.
That tickets have sold faster than usual is welcome news to the local
hospitality industry, which considers summer its down time.
"I think that's very encouraging," said Bob Johnson, general manager of
the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center-New Orleans, where the Essence
empowerment seminars are held. "I thought it was wonderful news, and it
This summer has been slower than most for the tourism industry as
leisure travelers and convention-goers who normally would brave the heat
to party in New Orleans have cut back because of the recession. New
Orleans is not unique in that regard.
According Smith Travel Research, hotel occupancy was down 11.5 percent
nationwide for the week ending June 20, compared to the same week last
year. RevPar, a key lodging benchmark, was down 20.5 percent on average
nationwide in the same week. In New Orleans, RevPar was down 5.8 percent
for the week ending June 20.
Essence will provide a reprieve from those grim statistics. Citywide
hotel occupancy is expected to be in the 90 percent range, higher than
last year, when the metro area's hotels were about 80 to 85 percent
The Hilton New Orleans Riverside, the city's largest hotel, is sold out
this coming Friday and Saturday. The hotel's general manager, Fred
Sawyers, attributes the strong demand to the Essence marketing machine
and the musical line-up, which in addition to Beyonce includes John
Legend, Ne-Yo, Maxwell and Essence perennial Frankie Beverly featuring
"Once they announced the line-up, we said 'This ought to be good,'"
Sawyers said. "Essence is really the bright spot in the summer."
Still, the music festival has not escaped the recession. Two festival
sponsors, Chevy and Budweiser, withdrew their commitments this year. The
loss of the former was more than expected, Ebanks said, given the
automaker's troubles in 2008 and subsequent bankruptcy filing.
"They held on until November, but they couldn't do it," Ebanks said.
Essence is not alone in losing sponsors this year. More than half of the
North American companies surveyed by the Chicago sponsorship consulting
firm IEG said they planned to spend less on sponsorships in 2009 than
they did in 2008. About half said they were looking to get out of their
sponsorship contracts even if they were not up for renewal this year.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival took to the Fair Grounds this
year without the sponsorship of American International Group, Borders
and Southern Comfort. Other festivals have had to be scaled down or
But Essence has managed not to miss a beat, replacing Chevy with Ford
Motor Co. and Budweiser with Coors. Sponsorship revenue is actually up
20 percent this year, Ebanks said.
Ford jumped at the opportunity to sponsor Essence when Chevy pulled out,
said Crystal Worthem, the automaker's multicultural marketing manager.
Even as automotive sales were down overall last year, Ford's research
showed they were up among African-American women, Essence magazine's key
"It was really an easy decision for us," Worthem said. "Our
participation in Essence, it's more about being able to get in front of
our consumers. We thought it was a prime opportunity."
The company's sponsorship is for one year and will be revisited before
next year's festival, Worthem said.
For the 15th anniversary, Essence has set out to create a larger, more
modern event, Ebanks said.
The video-enabled stage that debuted during last year's festival is
returning this year. That stage replaces the festival's formerly drab
presentation, whose main feature -- a gray curtain -- drew criticism
from concert-goers and performers alike.
Essence staffers will also take to the Internet more than ever this
year. Live video and photo updates and live blogging of the concerts and
empowerment seminars will take place on the magazine's Web site.
Attendees can sign up to receive mobile alerts when artists are set to
hit the stage.
As it did last year, Essence is partnering with CNN, which is also owned
by Time Inc. The news network is building a studio inside the convention
center for its correspondents. Essence and CNN are again hosting
"Reclaiming the Dream," a documentary on the lives of blacks in America.
For the first time in at least five years, Essence also is throwing an
official after-party after each night's concert. Essence Encore will be
take place at Club Metropolitan with celebrity hosts, including actor
Idris Elba and musician MC Lyte.
"We're expanding the footprint," Ebanks said. "We want to surprise and
Gain Insights From: Arbitron
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...and many more
Tracing the Hip-Hop Generation's Impact on Brands, Sports, & Pop Culture
By Erin O. Patten
Hip-Hop culture has had a profound impact on marketing in the past two
decades and it provided an intersection for brands, sports, and popular
culture. Erin O. Patton documents this impact in his new book, Under the
Influence—Tracing the Hip-Hop Generation's Impact on Brands, Sports, & Pop
Adam Graves, senior vice president of Deutsch Advertising says of Under
the Influence and Patton: "If there are any marketers out there that
still think they can ignore the urban market they'd better think
again...This isn't just a book for so-called urban marketers; this
should be mandatory reading for every marketer in the country."