(Community Works is a column highlighting business involvement in community and charitable programs.)
Admittedly, the guy looking for a used gun rack in the Bargain Finder may not be the first in line for tickets to the local jazz festival, but there are more than enough upscale readers of Trader Publications to make sponsorship of Alberta’s two major jazz festivals a sensible marketing tactic.
Trader Classified Media is part of a company operating in 22 countries around the world. In Calgary and Edmonton, it employs 400 people and generates $40 million in revenue annually. Along with the Bargain Finder, Trader Classified Media puts out 30 publications including the Auto and Truck Trader, home-based publications such as the Condo and New Home Guide and the Canada Computing Paper.
Since most people have no idea the business operates on that scale, the decision was made to jazz up its marketing. The vastly urban audience delivered through Edmonton’s Jazz City International Music Festival and the Jazz Festival in Calgary made these excellent events with which to associate. Only a few sponsors such as have claimed both as Trader Classified Media has done.
Although the two festivals were created simultaneously as part of the province’s 75th anniversary, they have always operated as separate entities. Edmonton’s Jazz City has grown from its modest beginnings to an 11-day event featuring more than 200 performances, 400 artists and as many as 30 venues focused downtown but spread throughout the city.
Calgary’s Jazz Festival went through several incarnations before its current organizers took over in 1998, and although it mirrors Edmonton in many ways, it maintains its own personality.
“They aren’t carbon copies by any means,” says Marc Vasey, festival producer for both cities.
They do share a theme, however: Music of the Sound of Surprise.
“We’re asking our audiences to break the mould, take a chance on something they haven’t heard before. We’ve encouraged our sponsors to do the same,” says Vasey.
For Trader Classified Media, the challenge is particularly apt.
“We’ve done many other sponsorships in the past,” says Gregg Becker, GM of Trader Classified Media’s prairie division, “but never a music event.”
Vasey, who has been producing not-for-profit music events for almost 40 years, points to studies that show sponsorship is one of the most productive marketing tools for any kind of business at any economic level. Vasey describes various cross-marketing tools, but emphasizes what he calls people presence.
DuMaurier’s former role as sponsor – particularly regarding Montreal’s jazz festival – is cited as an example of marketing through association. “Their name became synonymous – they owned the market.” Only time will tell if jazz will do as well for Trader Classified Media.
“It’s a brave new territory for us, but it’s fun,” says Becker. “It provides a win-win for the company and our customers, and also for the community at large, which gets to enjoy some tremendous music.”
Headliners at this year’s festivals include Holly Cole, Joshua Redman, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Little Feat. Complete listings available online at www.jazzcity.ca or www.jazzfestivalcalgary.ca
* Ghost Tours: June 4-5/9-12/16-19; Firefighters Memorial Plaza, Edmonton Strathcona
* Jazz Festival: June 18-28, various venues, Calgary
* Jazz City: June 19-29, various venues, Edmonton
* Greek Festival: June 20-22, Spruce Cliff Community Centre, Calgary
(Karen Ritchie hosts the Community File on QR77 Radio. Send your corporate/community event listing to firstname.lastname@example.org)