Business Events Musings

Mas Unity

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I am a huge fan of Notting Hill Carnival. Every year since when I can remember I have been there without fail, soaking up the soca and calypso music and in awe of the costumes of the many different bands, who work all year round in preparation for this two day event.

Over the weekend I attended the 2nd day of the first ever Carnival Expo, a two-day exhibition which brought a multitude of mas (masquerade) bands under one roof, highlighting the fact there is more to a mas band than crossing a judging stage and competing for the accolade of ‘Best Band on the Road’. As a visitor it was clear that though each band was there for self-promotion, those who chose to exhibit under that roof did so with the belief of collectively working towards one goal – to be unified in their approach to keeping Notting Hill Carnival and mas culture alive and in doing so acknowledging that this can only be achieved through what can be described as ‘mas unity’.

Notting Hill Carnival also attracts tourists from around the globe, injecting capital into the UK economy. It cannot be ignored that Carnival is also a business, and like any other business relies on marketing and pricing strategies to draw in prospective customers and consumers in addition to attracting sponsors. As a promotional tool, social media indeed provides a platform for mas bands to develop and maintain a brand personality, each band exuding various dimensions to position themselves effectively in the mind of the consumer and customer. Each band has a unique selling point whether it be via its theme, management of customer relationships, costume design or ordering options.

Though Notting Hill Carnival carries a competitive element, Carnival Expo reinforced that mas bands can work competitively yet collectively and effectively, smashing the mistaken belief that carnival is a closed entity reserved for those who are ‘chosen to model’ or ‘perform’. From what I observed, the Expo was tantamount to a store’s ‘open’ sign; indicating and demonstrating that Notting Hill Carnival’s costume parade is an all-inclusive event, open and accessible to anyone who wishes to adorn themselves with a spectacular custom-made costume and experience a taste of carnival culture.

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