DC Jazz Fest


Launched in 2005, the DC Jazz Festival (DCJF) is a two-week long event seeking to enhance Washington D.C.’s contributions to jazz worldwide by exposing the broadest demographic to jazz, using it as a form of arts education, honoring jazz legends and shedding light on the city’s rich jazz legacy.

Tasked with launching the inaugural Duke Ellington Jazz Festival (now renamed the DC Jazz Festival) and creating a recognizable brand, Sage has taken a multifaceted approach that includes developing interactive and grassroots marketing strategies, public relations and advertising campaigns, and a sponsorship initiative program to drive consumers to attend concerts and to gain widespread recognition for the festival.

Respecting jazz’s eclectic fan base, Sage has employed viral, grassroots marketing campaigns throughout the festival’s life to reach national and international jazz lovers as well as music-buffs and weekend warriors. Because visibility is key to promoting the event, Sage’s awareness strategy includes outdoor advertising, TV and radio spots, as well as collateral materials including brochures, program guides, and wall panels in local venues.

Advertising and public relations efforts focus on key publications such as The Washington Post and Washington City Paper, Jazz Times, DownBeat and Hot House Magazine. Our ongoing public relations campaign resulted 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.

Sage also expanded its marketing efforts to attract a more interactive, non-traditional audience. Sage created the festival web site, 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. Sage established a festival Facebook page, and posted listings to web sites and blogs for jazz enthusiasts and music-lovers to encourage attendance. For maximum impact, Sage produced a Jumbotron Twitter Feed on the National Mall. Sage also designed an app offering scheduling, artist and venue information, and teamed with another DCJF sponsor to program it.

Since its launch, DCJF has become Washington D.C.’s premier musical event. By its seventh year, Sage’s DCJF advertising campaign was already reaching more than 60,000,000 people, and our outreach in more than 25 Metrorail stations was reaching over 4,700,000 people. DCJF’s Jazz in the ‘Hoods program had expanded to more than 60 clubs, hotels, galleries, libraries, and community centers in 20 neighborhoods across the city, welcoming over 30,000 attendees. Attendees were coming from 20 countries including Poland, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Canada, France, and Mexico.