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Cooler culture: Sponsors shift attention to own events

Published:Sunday | January 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Friends and rum people (from left) Jeremy McMillan, Giselle Vassel, Bianca Hernould, and Brandon Smith at last year's Appleton Estate Sundown Cooler Fête.

The Cooler fete culture has been on the rise in Kingston, Jamaica. The practice of bringing your own bottle, or carrying your own cooler full of liquor, moved from the occasional lawn and pool party into events held on stadium lawns. The Sunday Gleaner sought to establish if frequency of cooler fetes has been catalysed by a decline in support from corporate sponsors, rather than just a fashionable trend.

A former party promoter, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Sunday Gleaner that what appears to be an increase in the staging of cooler fetes takes into consideration the pockets of patrons because local brands have started developing and sponsoring their own events. The promoter told The Sunday Gleaner that there was a time when brands would provide stages, bars, and other infrastructure to host a party. But they believe that brands are opting out of providing cash or kind to event planners and instead negotiate sales deals, which, in turn, cause promoters to ask patrons to stock up on their bottles and ice.

"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," Tamika West, marketing manager of Magnum Tonic Wine, told The Sunday Gleaner. "Driving our own brand programmes allows us to add our own unique value to the entertainment experience," she said.

Entities like Boom Energy Drink and Magnum Tonic Wine have started hosting their own road shows, sound clashes, talent competitions, and other events, potentially stifling the budget that would have otherwise provided sponsorship support in cash or kind to the regular promoter. Last Saturday night, the tonic wine brand hosted Magnum Live!, a concert experience that boasted headliners like Beenie Man and Popcaan. It is the opinion of party promoters that some brands have opted to take this new approach to marketing, tentatively called 'internalised sponsorship', and that this has encouraged the emergence of cooler fÍtes.

It was suggested that brands are more likely to entertain sales deals with event coordinators, rather than they providing cash or kind for externally marketed brand development.




"It is easier on a company or brand's budget to do a sales deal on products as opposed to providing cash or kind solely. Brands, however, still believe in doing the latter only when budgets permit. Cooler fetes are a definite response to this," the former party promoter told The Sunday Gleaner. "Event promoters find it more affordable from their end not to provide drinks for patrons, but ensure that the music experience is worth the ticket price."

"Just as event organisers are seeking to minimise their expenses and maximise profit, companies are in the business of doing the same," Keteisha McHugh, brand manager of Boom Energy Drink, told The Sunday Gleaner when asked about her opinion on internal sponsorship.

"As a marketer, you are forced to look at return on investment. So it is imperative that brands use their budgets wisely and choose when to splash the cash as opposed to 'cutting sales deals'," she said. Still, McHugh does not share the opinion that internal sponsorship has catalysed the rise of cooler fÍtes. "Cooler fetes work for a number of reasons. It's absolutely hassle free and gives patrons a wider variety as they provide their own refreshments," she said.

"Cooler fetes are another great form of entertaining patrons that we support," West continued. "They have been established for some time now and are another avenue that spirit brands and companies are taking partnerships to when needed or requested by patron demand," she said.