Tue | Sep 19, 2017

No bias, just business - Corporate Jamaica says decline in sponsorship stems from strategic planning

Published:Friday | January 6, 2017 | 1:35 PMShereita Grizzle

It is no secret that corporate sponsorship of entertainment events has been on the decline in recent times. Party promoters have long complained about the lack of support they receive from major sponsors over the years, outlining that corporate Jamaica has either been biased in the events they choose to support or have begun to host their own events instead of backing those that already exist.

In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, Tamika West, marketing manager of Magnum Tonic Wine, explained that while some companies have become more involved in the event-planning process, several entities have remained committed to major key events on the entertainment calendar. She pointed out that her brand, in particular, has supported several events over the years, moreso during the busy festive season.

“Christmas is always one of our busiest seasons, and this year was no exception. Driving our own branded programmes allows us to add our own unique value to the entertainment experience,” she explained. “Jamaican consumers love variety, as they are firm believers in having a choice with regards to spending their hard-earned money. As the consumers’ taste change to prefer new event formats; our brand has stayed relevant, sponsoring some of the hottest events out there,” she said outlining Riva Bash, Ova Suh, and Magnum Road Block, as some of the events the brand sponsored during the Christmas period.

“Brands being more involved in the event-planning process enables us to further understand an industry that is always changing, and provides us with the ability to adapt to the marketplace easier.”

PROTECTING THEIR BRANDS

She also went on to explain that protecting the brand is of utmost importance to corporate companies and as such, many of them are selective of the events they throw their support behind. She then dismissed the notion that companies are biased with their sponsorship.

“J. Wray & Nephew Limited, through our brands Magnum Tonic Wine, Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum, Charley’s JB Rum, Appleton Special, Appleton Estate, and others, sponsor a myriad events that are primarily catering to dancehall and reggae listeners on a weekly basis,” she said.

“We support weekly dances, bar parties, fêtes, and sessions throughout every village, district, town, and city in Jamaica, once they are of a high quality in entertainment value for our consumers. I don’t believe that corporate sponsors are hesitant to support entertainment events, but finite budgets prevent us from supporting everyone who seeks sponsorship. We support as many that we can, as long as they fit the relevant brand essence.”

Blandine JnPaul-Reid, head of marketing and innovation at Red Stripe, shared similar sentiments. JnPaul-Reid expressed that while there has been a decline in the number of events that her company has supported in recent times, particularly over the festive season, it has more to do with internal logistics rather than a bias towards particular events.

“I would not classify them (decrease in shows sponsored) as cuts. We have shifted our focus to events that are more in line with our brand values and Brand Jamaica. So, events promoting our musical heritage take precedence,” she explained. “We are not hesitant to support events; however, what promoters must understand is that we have long-term strategies for our brands, and as such, we just do not have the resources to sponsor every event that comes our way. We have to be very critical and ensure that events we do participate in and support complement our brand strategy.”

She went on to say that while there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of events that currently receive corporate backing, she doesn’t believe the entertainment industry has suffered from it.

“I do not believe the entertainment industry in Jamaica is dying. As a matter of fact, I believe it is thriving. When promoters come to us with a ‘true partnership’ opportunity, we welcome them with open arms and work together to come up with solutions to ensure the event is a success for them and us,” she explained.

“The dynamic is changing and the promoters who understand these changes will benefit the most. Corporations have a lot of stakeholders to manage and we have aggressive growth agendas for our respective businesses and as such, we will always seek out partnerships that enhance our agenda and deliver value to our consumers.”

West agreed.

“Jamaica’s entertainment industry, just like any other, reinvents itself where needs be, with new platforms for persons to enjoy. Our entertainment industry has established events that persons have enjoyed for years and each year is greeted with new activities to continue to grow and reignite our entertainment spaces. We are in a good place for continued growth, and J. Wray & Nephew Limited will continue to play its role in growing our cultural industries.”

entertainment@gleanerjm.com