coca-cola (essence)

Ingrid Saunders Jones, Senior Vice President of Global Community Connections for The Coca-Cola Company and Chair of the Company’s Global Philanthropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence, and Constance C.R. White, Editor-In-Chief, Essence (Photo by Margot Jordan)

*Now in its seventeenth year as the proud presenting sponsor of The Essence Music Festival (EMF), The Coca-Cola Company once again enjoyed being the number one beverage draw at this year’s festival in New Orleans, LA from July 5-8, 2012 proving the saying true that things do go better with Coke!

As the lead returning sponsor, the world’s largest beverage company encouraged thousands of festival goers who stopped by the company’s booth at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to get down with their theme and “Move, Groove, and Enjoy.”

With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, consumers were introduced to the company’s newest initiative designed to save planet earth with the introduction of the Recycling Educational Vehicle (REV) elevating the company’s recycling initiatives to a new level.  Coca-Cola makes recycling interactive and fun with The Recycling Educational Vehicle.

Another important initiative was the company’s support for two youth development programs which encourages New Orleans youth to stay fit and healthy.  In support of this health-related initiative the beverage giant partnered with the City of New Orleans through its Fit NOLA initiative — an effort to improve the health of its residents by 2018 – and awarded $45,000 to double the size of two New Orleans youth development running programs. Through Fit Nola, Coca-Cola awarded $20,000 to Girls on the Run New Orleans, and $20,000 to Youth Run New Orleans, in addition to a $5,000 donation of hydration beverages, including Dasani, smartwater and Powerade.

Both youth organizations are after-school youth development programs combining positive lifestyle education with running programs; and with the company’s support will be able to double their progress.  Today, more than 300 youth participate in these programs.  “We want to encourage our youth to participate in sports and exercise programs so they will grow up healthier and with the confidence to pursue their dreams,” said Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president of Global Community Connections for The Coca-Cola Company and chair of the company’s global philanthropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation.  “These programs are making a unique difference in the New Orleans community, and we share the city’s vision of creating a ‘fit community.’”

The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Foundation invested more than $8.9 million in 2011 to support active, healthy living programs worldwide.  Recently, the brand announced a $5 million commitment to support the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils and the American College of Sports Medicine to provide 100 communities with new fitness centers for schools over the next five years.

In addition, the foundation has awarded $3.4 million in grant awards to support fitness and nutrition programs in the U.S. and around the world.  Over the past 17 years, Coca-Cola has invested more than $500,000 in community programs which to support the New Orleans community during EMF.  Other refreshing Coca-Cola activities designed to make festival goers “Move… Groove… and Enjoy”… while entertaining them included:

The Swelter Stopper that quenched the thirst of festival goers with blasts of frosty air and “snowflakes” swirling throughout an ice bar, offering a “Perfect Serve” tasting experience of Coca-Cola beverages to keep attendees cool the entire weekend while listening to soul driven music spun by a DJ that kept the energy high.

Celebrity chef and author G. Garvin turned the heat up with his “Cooking with Coca-Cola and Chef G. Garvin” segment in front of a live audience at The Coca-Cola Red Lounge booth where consumers watched Garvin prepare a delicious, healthy meal they could easily make at home while having a chance to win a VIP Lunch with him through text-to-win at the booth.

Prior to that ultimate cooking segment, Garvin shared healthy eating secrets at a special media luncheon.  “I can’t force anybody to eat healthy,” he remarked.  “I can only provide ideas.”  He went on to say that eating healthy is a choice you make and that one should eat healthy as much as possible.  For those who like to indulge in bad selections from time to time, he stopped short of saying “just say no.”  Instead he extolled the role of First Lady Michelle Obama in getting the country eating healthy warning that if you eat bad food, “eat it in moderation.”  He also suggested that shoppers should make a list before food shopping to cut down on making unnecessary food purchases; as well as to buy only what you need.

Coca-Cola not only wants you to feel good from the inside out, but also from the outside in.  As a result they engaged celebrity stylist June Ambrose to give a “Style Refresh” to two lucky festival attendees during the “Mainstage Moments with celebrity stylist June Ambrose.”  Ambrose shared wardrobe advice and the importance of having the right wardrobe before introducing the “Style Refresh” contest winners who received a shopping and styling experience with Ambrose at Saks Fifth Avenue.

The Coca-Cola experience culminated in an All-Star Gospel Salute on Sunday, July 8, 2012.  The “Power of Our Spirit” All-Star Gospel Salute to Mary Mary and Fred Hammond, hosted by NY1 newscaster Cheryl Wills, featured gospel icons: Yolanda Adams, Marvin Sapp, Israel Houghton, Tramaine Hawkins, Kim Burrell, Melvin Williams, VaShawn Mitchell, Pastor Marvin Winans, Bishop Lester Love, Maurette Brown Clark, Byron Cage, Tyrone Foster & The Arc Singers, and many more.  #EnjoyCoke

About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands.  Led by Coca-Cola, the world’s most valuable brand, the Company’s portfolio features 15 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, the brand is the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks.  Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company’s beverages at a rate of 1.8 billion servings a day.  With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, the Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for its associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where they operate.  Together with its bottling partners, the Company ranks among the world’s top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system employees.  For more information, please visit or follow the Company on Twitter at

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ford (essence)

Top Ford executives attend Celebrity Meet & Greet dinner with Sirius XM at Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter. Seated (Left to Right) Pamela Alexander, Director of Community Development, Ford Motor Company Fund and Felicia Fields, Ford Group Vice President, Human Resources & Corporate Services who are surrounded by Members of the 2012 Essence Music Festival Press Junket. (Photo by Chris Mitchell)

*For the fourth consecutive year, Ford served as the exclusive automotive partner of the 2012 Essence Music Festival (EMF), the largest African American music and culture event in the U.S. that attracted over a quarter-million attendees.  In its power-driven role Ford continued to enhance its activities in order to bring additional excitement to attendees of this annual music and empowerment festival.

“The Essence Music Festival continues to provide a tremendous opportunity to generate awareness of Ford products within the African American market, particularly when it comes to African American women,” said Shawn Lollie, manager, Ford Multicultural Marketing.  “For four years, we have been able to consistently connect with potential customers during the festival and introduce them to our latest portfolio of vehicles through the use of interactive and experiential activities.”

“This connection will continue this weekend as we give festival-goers the opportunity to learn more about the all-new 2013 Ford Escape and the all-new Ford Fusion, in addition to engaging consumers about the importance of early detection as it relates to breast cancer,” Lollie added.

As a proud and active partner of the festival, Ford created a number of “vehicle engagement experiences” for festival attendees, including the chance for one consumer to win the keys to an all-new 2013 Ford Escape as part of the “Ford Escape Showdown”; an exclusive broadcast with “The Steve Harvey Morning Show”; celebrity autographs at the Ford booth inside the convention center on Friday and Saturday courtesy of Ford partner Sirius XM; and the chance for attendees to take a drive in some of Ford’s newest products like the 2013 Ford Escape, 2013 Ford Explorer and 2013 Ford Taurus.

As part of Ford’s continued partnership with Sirius XM — who conducted live interviews from the Ford booth with artists that included Mary J. Blige, Chaka Khan, Tamia, Trey Songz, Charlie Wilson and Kenny Latimore — the brand gave away wonderful prizes to lucky winners and afforded attendees chances at securing autographs from top acts.

On Thursday, July 5, at a very special Ford celebrity meet & greet dinner with Sirius XM held at the swanky Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter for members of the 2012 EMF press junket, Uniworld’s Melanie Williams introduced Monique Nelson, CEO, Uniworld Group, Inc., Felicia Fields, Ford group vice president, human resources & corporate services, and Pamela Alexander, director of community development, Ford Motor Company Fund.  Ford’s execs spoke about the many cool events Ford had in store for EMF attendees as the media dined luxuriously on fine Creole cuisine with a focus on fresh regional products at this charming New Orleans landmark.

In an effort to raise awareness around breast cancer and the importance of early detection, on Friday, July 6, the Ford booth went pink!  As part of Ford’s involvement in this year’s event, the brand activated “Pink Friday” involving Ford Warriors who donated $50 for each of the first 200 test drives to the Young Survival Coalition to help directly improve the lives of thousands of young breast cancer survivors.

“Warriors in Pink is thrilled to be at the Essence Music Festival to help raise awareness and bring the important message of early detection to the festival-goers,” said Tracy Magee, Ford’s primary brand experiential manager.  “We also will be introducing Cheryl Perkins, one of our Models of Courage, at the event.  We hope Cheryl’s personal story and experiences with breast cancer will serve to inspire those on the front lines battling breast cancer.”

Attendees were encouraged to purchase Warriors in Pink wear and gear with 100% of the net proceeds benefiting young breast cancer survivors through the Young Survival Coalition.  2012 marks Ford’s 18th year of support in the fight against breast cancer.  To date, Ford has donated more than $115 million to the breast cancer cause.  The Ford Warriors in Pink line of apparel and accessories is available exclusively on

In partnership with Essence, Ford joined the magazine to launch “Escape to New Orleans,” a four-part weekly travelogue that provided viewers access to some of the people, places and passions that help make the city of New Orleans the perfect escape hosted by lifestyle bloggers Nate Fluellen and Christen Rochon.  The all-new 2013 Ford Escape will star in the travelogue alongside the webisode hosts.

Ford’s commitment to the festival could be felt throughout New Orleans from the moment travelers arrived at Louis Armstrong airport, where one of the latest 2013 Ford Escape commercials aired around the baggage claim carousels.  Attendees also felt Ford’s goals to Go Further upon arrival at the Ford booth, which increased in size from previous years and now included the ability for consumers to charge up while hanging out in the Ford area via cell phone and iPad charging stations.

“Ford has a lot planned for this year’s festival and we are excited for all the weekend has to offer,” said Lollie.  “We hope attendees walk away with not only more information on our latest products, but also our continued commitment to Go Further when it comes to the community.”  #BrandNewFord

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

audrey j bernard

Audrey J. Bernard