P&G rebrands, reconnects the Cincinnati Music Festival

Cincinnati brand giant Procter & Gamble is helping rebrand and refresh another local institution by taking on the presenting sponsor role for the 2015 Cincinnati Music Festival July 24-25 at Paul Brown Stadium. It’s the start of at least a three-year commitment as lead sponsor and potentially a longer relationship.
Presented annually since 1962, the Cincinnati Music Festival has operated under a number of names — from the original Ohio Valley Jazz Festival to the Kool Jazz Festival to a 10-year run as Macy’s Music Festival through 2014. Along the way it blossomed into one of the country’s largest R&B/soul music events, hosting such stars as Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin and James Brown.
William Gipson
Its success spawned similar music festivals in other parts of the country, including the Essence Festival in New Orleans, which P&G has sponsored for the past eight years through its My Black Is Beautiful brand platform. So when the lead sponsorship slot opened at its hometown music festival, P&G stepped up.
“As the Queen City is experiencing a renaissance, P&G is committed to playing a role in driving continued progress in Cincinnati, where many of our employees live and work,” says William Gipson, Procter & Gamble Senior Vice President, Global Diversity. “We view the Cincinnati Music Festival as an essential event that will continue to uplift and promote diversity and inclusion within our community.”
Focus on local ties, women’s empowerment
The Cincinnati Music Festival has long been known for its ability to attract out-of-town attendees, with busloads of music fans flowing here from Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta and lots of other cities. P&G is making an effort to involve locals this year more than ever before.
Washington Park’s Friday Fusion series hosted three free “Road to CMF” concerts this summer: May 29 (headlined by Midnight Star), June 12 (Michelle) and July 10 (Zapp Band). Each provided a little flavor of what the Cincinnati Music Festival has in store, promoted ticket sales and offered P&G brand sampling.
Local performers have also been incorporated into the festival programming. Four local acts will perform each night on the Tide Pod Plaza outside of Paul Brown Stadium, starting about two hours before the gates open. Inside, P&G’s Bounty brand will host the festival’s first breakdancing exhibition in conjunction with the OTR-based Elementz dance organization.
P&G coordinated scheduling Radio One’s annual Women’s Empowerment Expo on Saturday to provide daytime programming during the festival. Running 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Duke Energy Convention Center, the event features keynote speaker Iyanla Vanzant, executive producer and host of Iyanla: Fix My Life on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Gipson says the added daytime component helps “underscores the importance of celebrating the diversity within our community. We’re bringing together natural community connections that will drive more awareness, excitement and local participation.”
'A weekend of great memories'
The Cincinnati Music Festival boasts a stellar lineup this weekend. Friday night performers include Maxwell, Jennifer Hudson, The O’Jays, Luke James and Joe, while Saturday’s highlights are Frankie Beverly & Maze, Jill Scott, Kem, Avery Sunshine and Mali Music.
P&G’s My Black Is Beautiful program and retail partner Kroger are planning to engage attendees with experiences that showcase brands for African-American consumers.
Among the activations are a Patio Spa offering CoverGirl and Olay mini-makeovers, a Crest Smile photo booth and Charmin products in all Club Level and VIP suite restrooms. As mentioned, Tide is presenting live music performances outside the stadium and Bounty is sponsoring the Elementz breakdancing.

“At the heart of our Essence Festival activation, we’ve learned the importance of providing engaging experiences that celebrate, connect and excite African-American women through makeovers, dance, photo opportunities, surprise guests and giveaways,” Gipson says. “We plan to provide our CMF guests with a similar experience, which we hope will give them a weekend of great memories.”
Like any major event sponsor, P&G is hoping consumers will recall those great memories when making purchasing decisions.
“It’s no secret that in order for P&G to grow we must win with the multicultural consumer, particularly African Americans and Hispanic Americans,” Gipson says. “One way we’re reaching the African-American consumer is through events such as the Cincinnati Music Festival and Women’s Empowerment Expo, where we’ll drive product awareness and trial.”
Tickets for the 2015 Cincinnati Music Festival Friday-Saturday are $55-$125 each night, with a special VIP “platinum” package for $500. Shows start at 7:30 each night.
Tickets for Saturday’s 2015 Women’s Empowerment Expo are $15.
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John Fox is an experienced freelance writer and editor who served as managing editor of Soapbox from December 2014 to August 2016.