new-orleans-jazz-fest-2011Having returned from my annual pilgrimage to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival commonly called Jazz Fest, I couldn’t help notice the increased commercialization of the event.  Normally this might be a turn off but I have to say, the increasing influx of corporate sponsors has only helped to make Jazz Fest better than ever and no less of an authentic New Orleans experience.  So what if the Gentilly Stage has now been renamed the Samsung Stage?  That didn’t change my enjoyment of the many musicians who played that stage, ranging from Lyle Lovette and Robert Plant to Alabama Shakes and John Fogerty.  Corporate sponsorships from companies such as Acura and Shell Oil have supported the Jazz Fest for years, making for a well-run event year in and year out, having just celebrated it’s 45th anniversary.

But my reason for this blog post is not to pat the sponsors on the back for what is, in essence, mutual exploitation, but rather how much I actually enjoyed what they brought to the table.

Here were just a few of the Internet marketing highlights we not only noticed but really enjoyed:


Social media marketingShell, a long-time sponsor set up a photo booth with backdrops and props where you could come and have your picture taken for free.  What’s the big deal you ask?  I certainly didn’t need Shell to take my picture when we had our own cameras and had taken dozens of our own pictures, many selfies included.

But there was still something fun about seeing others posing in groups while we waited our turn and the atmosphere in the tent was fun and festive, not to mention a nice respite from the blazing hot sun.  You can see my wife and I in the image (that’s my wife Nina with the blue mustache) along with the Shell Oil logo which was promptly sent to my cell phone, clearly branded, within minutes, ripe for social media sharing. (photo services provided by Catch The Moment)

My point?  Is this something, so simple, really, that your business could do at it’s next trade show or street fair?  Shell gave thousands of people something to share on their own social media platforms with their brand and logo — and they did, in droves!


Jazz Fest appThese days, what’s an event or trade show without it’s own app?  Not only was the app really useful for keeping track of the dozens of acts each day, but sponsors and the music acts themselves were able to speak directly to the thousands of users who downloaded the apps, offering everything from food and crafts listings to music downloads and interactive maps of the entire fest.  And the thing I really liked was the ability to take a picture of any artist inside the app and have the caption automatically filled in with the artist and stage info.  The app was also heavily promoted throughout the fest, taking advantage of the ubiquitous use of mobile devices throughout the fest.  Useful, easy, fun and free.  Worked for me.



Saving my favorite use of customer appreciation as a marketing tactic for last, was the Samsung VIP tent.  Talk about making your customers feel special and rewarding loyalty — Samsung’s entire approach was a winner from start to finish.

First of all, you simply needed a Samsung device in your possession (tough luck iPhone users) that allowed you and a guest to enter the VIP tent — which, on a hot, humid, sunny New Orleans day was a reward unto itself.

But with wristband on (reinforcing the behind the velvet ropes approach) and now inside the tent, it was like Shangri-la.  You were free to browse all their product demos (of course) but they also offered all the free water, soft drinks, wine and a choice of tap beers you wanted, along with various free snacks, comfy couches and fans blowing cool air.  I sat there the first day on the couch taking a break from the heat, doing what else?  Checking my emails in shaded comfort and uploading photos.  And when I noticed my battery was a bit low from all the use, they swapped mine out for a brand new one, free of charge, quickly and with a smile.  Brand advocate?  Damn tootin!


All these marketing efforts were perfect in pitch and tone for the event that they were a part of of.  They didn’t try to over power the event or subvert the spirit of the event.  They were integrated in a way that was fun and genuinely appreciated.  How may marketing efforts can say that?   The bottom line is this:  They each provided something of value that was fun, useful and enjoyable.  Does your business provide VALUE in it’s own marketing efforts?  Come in, sit down and tell us all about it.