Parties a big hit despite lack of sponsors
The recently concluded festive season was packed with parties and events as is customary in Jamaica. However, despite the fact that the majority of events were able to hold their spot on the calendar, what was noticeably missing were title sponsors.
Aside from Sting and French Connection, which were cancelled in 2016, events like Big Cups, Sandz, and Chug It were largely successful. However, at these same events, there were no corporate companies in sight. The DJs, the vibe, and the people were present, but as it relates to the usual elements of branding associated with sponsorship, there was none in sight, not even a single feather banner.
Despite the success of the events without the assistance of title sponsors, their absence still raises serious concerns for the longevity and development of the party scene within the entertainment industry since the growth of a brand heavily relies on financial backing.
Supreme Promotions publicist Keona Williams, who is still upset that Sting 2016 was cancelled, told The Sunday Gleaner that the entertainment industry needs to lobby for the Jamaican government to put in place measures to ensure that corporate companies contribute to the development of Jamaican culture as a clause for doing business here.
She also mentioned that Trinidad is able to rally its corporate companies in support of soca, implying that Jamaica should be able to do the same for local music here.
"There is no requirement for sponsors to support local events. At the end of the day, their products are still being sold....the problem is that our entertainment industry has no structure, so promoters will still manage to host their events regardless. Sting has been footing the majority of its production bill for years. If the Government doesn't put something in place our culture will gradually die...look at Trinidad, for example, the companies there support their events, but it seems the corporate companies here are not for the development of our culture," she said.
Despite her stance, the publicist also acknowledged that local artistes and promoters have managed to shoot themselves in the leg due to lack of professionalism in many instances. She believes that some sponsors have grown tired of the bad publicity associated with artistes' delinquency and have opted to sever ties.
"We have had behavioural issues in the past, which has left a sour taste in the mouths of Corporate companies. They have a reputation to maintain, but at the same time, they can't just put everybody in a bundle and do away with Jamaican culture. Sponsors are also hosting their own events, where they are automatic title sponsors and therefore, might not need promoters. But overall, corporate companies that deliberately refuse to support local events should be ashamed of themselves," she told The Sunday Gleaner.
Big opportunities missed
Corporate sponsors may have missed out on a big opportunity in the staging of Sandz 2016 as the event pulled a huge turnout at its recent staging. The event, which caused a major traffic pile-up, had no branding except for a Triple Century VIP food court.
However, co-organiser of the event, Tigana Mitchell, said that the event was not sidelined by sponsors, it was the other way around. He believes that sponsors are sometimes too demanding.
"We just wanted to do it on our own, and we successfully did just that. Based on what we saw of the event, we felt that we were stronger as our own entity, and this is something that other promoters will begin to realise as well and some can also acknowledge. You also have more freedom to be creative with less restrictions," he said.
Mitchell further said that Sandz had grown to the point where sponsors might have to step up their game.
"I am not saying we will never use sponsors for other stagings, but we just did it to show that we could do it. If we are to go with sponsors, we would have to be sure that the products will do well with the masses. Our brand has grown so much, so it's up to the sponsors to meet the value of our brand," he said.
A sponsor-less Chug It also reaped back-to-back successes during the festive season with both stagings in December raking in thousands of patrons. However, organiser of the event Andrew French was unavailable for comment, while his publicist, Vanessa Metzger, told The Sunday Gleaner that she was not allowed to speak to the media on issues concerning the event and sponsorship.