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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The issue of climate change has always been close to the heart of Downsound Entertainment’s Chief Executive Officer Josef Bogdanovich, producers of Reggae Sumfest.

The latter was the reason why, in 2019, he and the Reggae Sumfest team embarked on a mission to bring about positive change through their sustainability initiative.

Declaring the annual festival as one that is ‘going green’, the team has consistently engaged in a number of activities- including an annual beach cleanup in Montego Bay, St James – which has yielded impressive results since its inception. Still, the Sumfest team said they were not expecting to win any awards for a project they deemed necessary. So, when it was announced that they would receive this year’s Silver award from The American Advertising Awards (ADDY Award), the team acknowledged that the accolade was the “icing on the cake.”

In addressing the award, Bogdanovich emphasised that it serves not only as recognition of their efforts but also as a reminder of the profound impact individuals can have on preserving life.

“This is another small step to uplift one’s consciousness beyond oneself. The fact that this effort was recognised demonstrates that we as individuals can make a difference in the preservation of life,” he stated.

Downsound Entertainment’s Chief Executive Officer Josef Bogdanovich at the 2023 beach cleanup in Montego Bay St James. (Photo: Contributed)

Speaking on the societal impact of the campaign, Bogdanovich remarked: “This project is a first step to elevating oneself into paying more attention to the climate and our effect upon it.  When one becomes more responsible as a person and as an individual, who knows how far one can grow as an individual, as a family, as a community and as a nation.”

He added; “There is a certain feeling that is enjoyed by the collective that we are doing something together that is worthwhile, and it’s especially good when you are among fellow workers and associates.”

Expressing her surprise at the award win, Karla Jankee, Head of Marketing at Downsound Entertainment/Reggae Sumfest, emphasised that, much like Bogdanovich, she sees the award as a testament to the team’s unwavering dedication and consistent efforts since 2019.

“This came as quite a surprise. I wasn’t even aware that our partners at Esirom had nominated us. We’ve been pouring our hearts into our sustainability campaign since 2019 because addressing climate change is a top priority for us at Reggae Sumfest,” she explained. “This year, we were very deliberate about how we wanted to present our initiatives, so we entrusted Esirom with crafting the social media campaign, and they exceeded our expectations. We’re incredibly proud of their work and ours, especially considering it was all organic. This campaign was one of the few where we didn’t allocate any funds for advertising, and that’s what makes this award even more meaningful.”

Alex Morrissey, Director at Esirom, expressed his delight in collaborating with Reggae Sumfest. He emphasised that the victory was the result of a collective team effort, and he couldn’t be prouder of the achievement.

“We were thrilled to partner with Reggae Sumfest, the Caribbean’s largest reggae festival attracting over 20,000 patrons annually, to execute our sustainability campaigns. Their dedication to environmental responsibility and massive reach perfectly aligned with Esirom Foundation’s values. Having collaborated with them on previous sustainability initiatives, we were confident that this partnership would amplify our message and create a significant impact,” Morrissey stated.

He added: “This ADDY Award feels different. Sure, we’ve been fortunate enough to win awards before, but this one, for a campaign that trumpets sustainability in Jamaica… it hits home. You see, Jamaica, like many places, grapples with basic environmental practices. Winning for a campaign tackling that head-on? It’s an incredible validation of our mission, a fuel to our passion. It’s not just about the trophy, it’s about the message reaching those who need it most. This award is a powerful push to keep fighting, keep amplifying, and hopefully, inspire other events to follow suit. Because let’s be honest, a cleaner, greener Jamaica, a more sustainable Caribbean—that’s an award worth winning every single day.”
With a highly successful 2023 campaign under their belt, the Reggae Sumfest team, gearing up to host another edition of the event this summer, has already initiated plans for the 2024 campaign.

According to Leeann Dunkley, Coordinator of Sustainability at Downsound Entertainment/Reggae Sumfest, in addition to the annual beach cleanup, we are looking to expand the initiative city-wide.

“We envision hosting a ‘sustainability clean-up day’ that extends beyond Catherine Hall Beach to various areas of Montego Bay, including the hotel strips,” she elaborated. “We aim to engage our hotel partners, who are enthusiastic about joining us to amplify our impact. Expansion has always been part of our vision for this project, as Joe mentioned; it holds great significance for us. Making a difference is our shared goal.”

Dunkley also disclosed that, alongside expanding the city-wide cleanup effort this year, Reggae Sumfest aims to engage children in an educational capacity. She stressed that addressing issues like recycling from the grassroots level could be pivotal for achieving long-term change.

“We aim to visit schools and educate children about the significance of recycling to address certain issues proactively. A significant reason behind the recycling challenges we face stems from insufficient early involvement. We’re determined to shift that paradigm,” she emphasized. “Furthermore, we aspire to assist schools in establishing green spaces in collaboration with our partners at H&L. It’s set to be an enriching educational voyage. Stay tuned for updates on the exciting initiatives we have in store.”

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