J Wray and Nephew Limited’s lead gold rum brand, Appleton Special, has inked a deal worth over $10 million for title sponsorship of the highly anticipated annual party Dream Weekend.

The company’s signature brand will now bear its name above the Dream Weekend’s logo, with the slogan ‘Rum rules Paradise’.

Appleton Special takes over a four-year contract which the Red Stripe-branded Smirnoff previously had with Dream Entertainment Limited. Before that, Red Stripe owned RTI Weekend which became Dream Weekend in 2010. Overall, Red Stripe has pumped $90 million as title sponsor of Dream Weekend.

“It’s a massive investment for us but we have always been in Negril and have supported entertainment,” marketing director at J Wray and Nephew, Gary Dixon said. “It’s a growing industry and it is one of the things that is pulling tourism into Jamaica and continues to fuel how we look on the map.”

Dream Weekend, a calendar-fixed party for roughly 20,000 patrons, sees upwards of 10 events taking place during the three-day celebration. The party is estimated to pump $1.5 billion into the economy from the bookings of over 7,000 hotel rooms, food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, apparel, public and private transportation, travel taxes, along with other service provisions.

“About 50 per cent of the patrons are locals, so the rest of it is really people coming into Jamaica and interacting with our brands,” Dixon said. “But when they are leaving they will buy our brands, they will take back a bottle of rum which is a piece of Jamaica.”

The celebration sees visitors from the United States, mainly the tristate area, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“Dream has been courting us for a little while. The consumers have always wanted a powerful portfolio and with the amalgamation with Campari we have brands like Skyy Vodka, which is premium vodka, that will be in Dream, Appleton Estate, Appleton Special, Campari and Magnum, which will create a diverse portfolio,” said the marketing manager.

Dixon stated that Appleton’s contract with Dream Weekend will last for two years, after which the brand has the option to renew.

“I think the most important thing for any party you go, is having a great drink experience at the bar. If you don’t, then patrons are frustrated no matter how good the music is. Guys want to see nice girls and have nice drinks, so we are bringing a complete and amazing bar experience,” he said.

However, Appleton may not be seeing a positive return on its investment from the three-day celebration. Still, the company regards the event as a platform to grow its brands.

“Big consumer emersion programmes like this, you’re not going to see a positive return on investment. It’s a long-term investment; you build advocacy and loyalty with your consumers and over time they will be having your brand at the bars and clubs,” Dixon said.

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