Speaking it into reality

Sunday, May 18, 2014    

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WITH a degree in foreign languages and the gift of gab, it seems a career in marketing was inevitable for Dave Rodney.

The Westmoreland-born Rodney, who lives in New Jersey, has worked on major events with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) including Motown Soul By The Sea, ABC Snapple Sports Superstars, Hot 97 Hot Nights, MTV Spring Break and HBO's Sinbad Soul Music Festival.

He also helped secure a record deal with Atlantic Records for deejay Stitchie.

Rodney told the Sunday Observer that it was while in the classroom that he accidentally found his calling.

"I taught German and Spanish briefly at Ardenne and Wolmer's Boys' (high schools). I was the recipient of a French government scholarship and president of the Modern Languages Society while at UWI (University of the West Indies), and it was my intention to work as a translator/interpreter," he said.

Those plans changed when Rodney began working at the JTB in Kingston in 1982. Selling Jamaica and its culture to international media sparked his interest in marketing.

In addition to music events, Rodney coordinated radio promotion in the United States for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

Since moving permanently to the US in 1990, he has discovered the glaring differences between working in marketing there and Jamaica.

"There is no shortage of enthusiasm and passion here (in the US) but it has always been difficult explaining who I am professionally. People here don't understand how you could write a book on Usher while at the same time shoot photos for newspapers and magazines, spin music as a DJ for parties, create marketing plans for consumer products, sign artistes to major labels and promote visual artists, authors, events and destinations," he said. They like to place you in a box."

Rodney's greatest satisfaction is working on projects that benefit the Jamaican diaspora.

"The US-based events usually bring the island's culture to large numbers of Jamaicans overseas, so that's a positive thing," he said. "Additionally, the events are also marketing platforms to push consumer products, banking products, travel, money transfers, etc, and all these links keep Jamaicans more closely anchored to the home culture."

One such event was the Sinbad Soul Music Festival, a joint venture between African-American comedian Sinbad and the JTB in Montego Bay in 1996.

Surveys show the event pulled 8,000 visitors who spent over US$500 million. Hotels from Ocho Rios to Negril reported full occupancy.

Rodney is currently helping to promote the Groovin' In The Park concert, scheduled for Queens, New York in June. He is also marketing the Haiti-produced drink Rhum Barbancourt.

— Cecelia Campbell-Livingston



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