Connecting Brands to Black Culture: The Magic of Broccoli City Festival


One of the most popular Black-founded music festivals, Broccoli City is an emblem of empowerment, diversity and community in the Washington DC Metropolitan area.

In this interview, Shavonne Dargan, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Marketing for Live Nation’s CURATED, highlights her recent experience at the festival, how it’s evolved into something much larger than the Hip-Hop & R&B music played there, and how brands can use live music moments to foster a meaningful connection with Black audiences.

Shavonne Dargan (left) with Brandon McEachern (right), one of the founders of Broccoli City, at this year’s festival.

What makes Broccoli City Festival a unique celebration of Black culture and community?

SD: Broccoli City (BC) is not only a music festival but a brand in the Washington DC Metropolitan area, known for curating a vibe that is a safe place for socially and environmentally conscious Millennials and Gen Z to take off their cape for a few hours/days and simply TURN UP! They get to commune with like-minded strangers for moments of pure freedom to express themselves…as they are! AND they get to see some of their favorite Hip Hop and R&B artists at the same time!

The BC team also organizes events focused on creating a lasting, positive impact for communities of color. Every April, BC produces Broccoli Con, which has become an opportunity hub for college students featuring recruiters and business leaders across a variety of industries, including tech, entertainment, nonprofits, government, creative, and more.

This year marks the 2nd BC Fest you have attended since starting CURATED. Were there any highlights from this year’s festival that left you feeling excited or inspired?

SD: This year, fans did not come to play. There were so many stylish people – the outfits, the hair, nails, accessories – everything! I overheard fans complimenting and hyping each other up about how fly their fits were all weekend!

Coco Jones’ performance in the rain was one for the books! You had to be there!

Also amidst the festival grounds were a variety of on-site brand experiences that fans loved, including:

Ford prominently displaying its new Bronco vehicles across the festival grounds

Smirnoff Ice bringing the party with its refresh zone

Champion partnering with BC for the first time to produce limited edition merch items

Kinlo keeping everyone protected from the sun with free samples of sunscreen and access to their wellness lounge

Everything Legendary delivering vegan flavor and eats to the fest for the second year in a row

CHASE offering its beautiful, air-conditioned Sapphire Reserve Lounge seating area to fans

Photo credits: Instagram @kilosklips (top left), @Hazzard202 (middle left & bottom left),@broccolicity (top right) and @akil (bottom right)

How does the local D.C. community influence and shape the identity of Broccoli City?

SD: The local community is the heartbeat of everything they do! Along with hosting music events, an incredible festival and running a tech platform year-round, BC is also a nonprofit that does amazing work. They celebrate their community by including Go-Go musicians in their lineup, supporting local small businesses, and providing space for other nonprofit organizations to shine and do their thing. Plus, in the week leading up to the festival, they host and produce free events for the whole community! It’s all about spreading love and making an impact. That’s what makes Broccoli City so special!

How can brands contribute to the culture at Black-founded festivals like Broccoli City and better connect with Black audiences?


Get to Know the Fest Culture |The first thing marketers can do is understand cultural currency. They should consider both what their brand is bringing to the festival culture and how the festival culture will deliver for their brand. Including subject matter experts and festival teams upfront in partnership structuring and the planning of branded experience for fans can be the difference between basic impressions vs. engagement that can lead to affinity.

Avoid the Cut & Paste |Understand that brand contribution to the festival culture does not have to be complicated. It should, however, be thoughtful. Fans can spot a ‘cut and paste’ immediately. Get to know the persona of the festival, the kind of fan who attends, what their lifestyle outside of the festival is like, and how they plan for the festival. And build a strategy where your brand fits into that fan’s lifestyle and planning — make that fan feel like your brand has to be part of their experience.

Understand the Value of the Audience | Live music fans are influential. They’re open to the brands that are leveling up the experience for them, and they’re sharing the activations that matter.

Go See For Yourself

Sometimes, seeing is believing. To experience the magic of Live Nation’s Black-founded festivals or learn more, email me at shavonnedargan@livenation.com.

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