May 21, 2010
RED STRIPE, SUMFEST ... PARTNERS AGAIN
Reggae Sumfest and Red Stripe have joined forces once again, after Red Stripe's decision to stop sponsoring local live-music events.
In a controversial move in late 2008, brewing company Red Stripe announced its decision to withdraw sponsorship of live-music events which they claimed facilitated "violent and anti-social lyrics." Having been the title sponsor for Reggae Sumfest for six years prior to that decision, the reggae festival was left without a title sponsor as the company paused their sponsorship plan. Now Red Stripe has returned to show its support for the island's music and culture and to Reggae Sumfest.
Johnny Gourzong of Summerfest Productions, organisers of the event, is without a doubt pleased to have Red Stripe back on board. Gourzong said: "Very pleased, very happy. Red Stripe is playing a big role and are certainly one of the sponsors to come to our rescue this year along with Digicel, Wisynco, the Jamaica Tourist Board and the hotels like Iberostar. We're definitely welcoming them back."
According to Gourzong, the 'platinum sponsor', which Red Stripe has taken up this year, is the highest level of sponsorship for the event outside of the title sponsorship.
Marguerite Cremin, head of corporate relations for Red Stripe, told THE WEEKEND STAR, "Sumfest is a very integral part of music in Jamaica. A number of people are aligned to and has an affinity with Sumfest and we realised it has an integral part of celebration. Diageo is all about celebrating life and music is a part of that celebration."
In a release, Renee Wong, assistant brand manager for Red Stripe, explained that the return is only one part of its commitment to continue the development of the Jamaican people.
Wong said: "With our re-entry in the festival comes a new approach that promises to be a treat to our consumers. We will leverage the festival in a big way that only an iconic brand and company such as Red Stripe could. Jamaica can look forward to a fantastic Reggae Sumfest which will see tremendous engagement of consumers leading up to the much anticipated three-day festival."
The company came under fire from the dancehall community when it withdrew main sponsorship from Reggae Sumfest and Sting. In a statement released in 2008, Red Stripe stated: "Over the years, a very negative trend of glorifying violence has crept into some of the music, causing much consternation among well-thinking Jamaicans and others at home and abroad. This has far-reaching and damaging implications for the industry and for the country as a whole."
Adding: "While our most recent efforts through the Coalition of Corporate Sponsors have met with some measure of success, some performers continue to propagate, through their live performances, violent and anti-social lyrics. Red Stripe will not be party to this, and thus we have taken the very difficult decision of withdrawing sponsorship from live-music events."
According to Cremin, Red Stripe's decision to rejoin the sponsorship of Reggae Sumfest is due to an improvement they have seen in communication between themselves and the dancehall community. She said, "There has been an improvement in terms of communication between Diageo, the broadcasting community, the private sector and the music fraternity. We have reached a good place and are moving forward."
Cremin says there has been regular dialogue among themselves, the artistes, their managers who all view it as a "win-win situation." Sumfest kicks off on July 18 with the Beach Party.