Bringing Ease to the Big Easy at Essence Festival

Essence Festival: Essence Magazine is a monthly magazine targeted for African-American women. It’s been around since the 1970s and focuses on lifestyle, fashion, and beauty. With the slogan, “Fierce, Fun, and Fabulous”, the ultimate goal is to empower African-American women and embrace the community.

Essence Festival began in 1994 and has been going strong ever since. I learned at one of the keynote speeches that the festival was almost abandoned after Hurricane Katrina. When the suggestion was brought to the president of Essence at the time, she responded with “Over my dead body”.

Since then, it has thrived and seen attendance numbers grow exponentially. It’s reported that the festival draws over 500,000 people to the city of New Orleans annually and in 25 years has stimulated over $4B in revenue for the city. It’s truly a festival meant to celebrate and empower — and Tagboard is proud to power engagement!

Essence Festival Social Activation Overview

The festival itself spread across two main areas. The convention center hosted hundreds of booths highlighting everything from Disney to local artisans, wellness stations, beauty products and more. Each of the major sponsors had a much larger footprint for their booth, attracting big name speakers and miniature events within the larger scope of Essence driving conversations and building a sense of community. The Superdome on the other hand, transformed into a concert venue to get the party started each night after the conference in celebration of the Essence community.

A major sponsor for the event was Walmart, which also happens to be a Tagboard partner as well. Working with Walmart for multiple years at Essence, it’s incredible to see how they have innovated year after year and used Tagboard to drive conversation and awareness around this event.

Another one of our partners over at My Black is Beautiful, or MBIB, created an interactive space promoting content creation and conversation around their brand. Their booth was located in the coined “Beauty Carnival” section of the convention center that was a special gated area at one end of the event space focused on beauty products for African-American women.

Throughout the convention space, TV’s and screens showcased festival goers engaging with each other and with the brands. By promoting this shared experience everywhere in the space, Essence was able to amplify their message beyond the event itself through social media.

Down the road at the Superdome, the home of the New Orleans Saints, completely transformed into a concert venue for upwards of 45,000 people each night listening to keynote speakers, music performances and more. Here the social conversation really exploded and the Essence team did an excellent job of capturing and promoting it.

All the screens you see, all the graphics, are powered by Tagboard. Essence was one of our first partners that took our ability to customize graphics to a whole new level. Our amazing design team built out displays used across all screens between concerts and speeches, which made the production process extremely simple for how complex it looks.

The Essence Festival has been a gathering place for African-American women for the past 25 years, and were honored to make the depth of the engagement even deeper.