Tasked with launching the inaugural Duke Ellington Jazz Festival (now renamed the DC Jazz Festival) and creating a recognizable brand, Sage took a multifaceted approach, which included developing an interactive and grassroots marketing strategy, public relations and advertising campaigns and a sponsorship initiative program to drive consumers to attend and gain widespread recognition of the “Nation’s Jazz Festival.”
The Duke Ellington Jazz Festival is a two-week long schedule of musical events targeting jazz fans, nationally and internationally, families and communities in the mid-Atlantic region, and local businesses and influencers.
Objective:The Festival, launched in 2005, seeks to enhance Washington D.C.’s contributions to jazz worldwide by exposing the broadest demographic to jazz, use jazz as a form of arts education, honor jazz legends and shed light on the city’s rich jazz legacy.
With respect to the jazz genre’s eclectic fan base, Sage knew a grassroots, viral, marketing campaign was needed to reach national and international jazz lovers as well as music-buffs and weekend warriors. Visibility was key to promoting the event, therefore outdoor advertising, TV and radio spots as well as collateral placement, like brochures, program guides, wall panels and initiations, in local venues.
Advertising and public relations focused on key publications such as The Washington Post and the Washington City Paper, Jazz Times, DownBeat and Hot House Magazine. Sage set up interviews with the festival producer, Charlie Fishman, to convey the message of Washington D.C.’s rich jazz heritage and the launch of the “Nation’s Jazz Festival.” The public relations campaign was successful, resulting in a front-page story in the Washington Times and widespread coverage among jazz trade publications, music and cultural websites, blogs and city event calendars.
Over the course of the next three years, Sage expanded the marketing efforts to appeal to a more interactive, non-traditional audience. In 2006, the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival web site was launched, which included original artwork and flash animation, an online music player, sign-up forms, an e-mail newsletter management system and a back-end administrative functionality so personnel could easily update content without technical assistance. In 2007 and 2008, Sage set up pages on both MySpace and Facebook, and posted listings to web sites and blogs for jazz enthusiasts and music-lovers, to encourage attendance.
Since its launch the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival has become Washington D.C.’s premier musical event. Ticket sales and attendance increased as well as web site traffic and press inquiries. In 2007, ticket sales topped 80 percent of venue capacity. By 2008, the Festival attendance exceeded 55,000, an increase of 40 percent from 2007 with more than 100 performances in 47 venues. Also, in 2008 Duke Ellington Jazz Festival marketing, promotion, advertising and public relations efforts reached 24 million households, more than tripling from seven million the year before. Lastly the Festival website had over 207,000 “unique visits,” a massive increase from the 70,000 in 2007. Sage is currently engaged in promoting the 2011 DC Jazz Festival.