CareFusion drops jazz fest sponsorships

CareFusion, a global corp. specializing in hospital equipment, has ended its two-year sponsorship of George Wein’s New York Jazz Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, and the Chicago Jazz Festival, a day after reporting the retirement of its Chairman and CEO David L. Schlotterbeck, and the first quarter financials of its 2010 fiscal year

The company announced steep revenue losses and plans to cut 5% of its workforce last August; in October, CareFusion recalled 17,000 Alaris PC infusion units, cited by the FDA as a product the use of which has “a reasonable probability” of causing “serious adverse health consequences or death.” But a publicist cautioned against linking these happenstances, and enthused about what she called CareFusion’s jazz-related marketing campaign.

“Our original intent was to launch the brand,” said spokesperson Suzanne Hatcher of CareFusion, which was spun off in 2009 from Cardinal Health, “and raise awareness of patient safety. We were thrilled by the results, so we renewed for another year. The way the jazz community and other folks have embraced CareFusion certainly exceeded our expectations. Now we’ve moved on.”

In 2009, CareFusion rescued Wein’s New York City and Newport RI fests, as well as propping up the City of Chicago-produced Chicago Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and fests in Sydney and Paris. In 2010, it cut its Monterey, Sydney and Paris investments, but supported 47 concerts in 22 venues in New York, and three nights of jazz in Chicago’s Grant Park. 

“Our relationship with George Wein has been phenomenal,” Ms. Hatcher reported in a phone interview. Regarding the suspension of sponsorship, she said, “We were open with George on where we were headed.” She said the 63-year-old Schlotterbeck’s retirement was a “personal decision,” that CareFusion’s “restructuring” was the inevitable shakedown of a new corporation after a year to the “right size” and that the recall “is unfortunate, but we’re taking care of that.” CareFusion’s “Rhythm of Care Safety Coalition, with partners the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF)Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (APIC) and Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has also been dissolved.

Festival producer George Wein’s office today issued a press release announcing “sponsorship opportunites for the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival,” which includes the New York Jazz Festival (write: The 2011 Newport jazz fest is already scheduled, for Aug. 5 to 7. Executive director Lauren Deutsch of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, which programs the Chicago Jazz Festival, said she had just learned of CareFusion’s pullout today.

According to Wein’s press release,

The Carefusion Jazz Festival Series ultimately generated in excess of 2 billion measured media impressions and drove over 6 billion impressions in leading international media, creating significant brand awareness for CareFusion after its launch as a spin off from Cardinal Health.

Asked the reaction of a departing sponsor when the former object of its support must begin fundraising anew, Ms. Hatcher declined to comment.
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  1. Chuck Vecoli says

    As a veteran medical device marketer, I never did understand Carefusion’s association with the jazz market or their sponsorship. I do feel an association with the powerful brand like the Newport Jazz Festival and/or The New York Jazz Festival would drive awareness of the sponsor. But in the case of Carefusion, to what end? Stockmarket reaction? I think not, especially when the business fundamentals of the spinous company are underperforming. That said I am hoping other savvy marketeers recognize the significant visibility afforded by an association to the world’s premiere jazz events.
    HM: I asked CareFusion’s spokesperson about the impetus behind its sponsorship — she responded as I’ve heard from them before, that they believe surgeons and other doctors and hospital administrators are into jazz and also that they could bring customers/associates to the festivals as premiums (they could have done that anyway). She denied that there was a single jazz fan among the upper executives. Originally they talked about wanting to associate their brand with jazz’s cutting-edge creativity. Where is Apple when we need it?

  2. JO SHELDON says

    A sad day when american cultural festivals still need to survive on private sponsorship
    We remember many a legendary ellington or basie event from these famous festivals
    Let obama and the boys sponsor some cultural events in america for a welcome change
    Remember to remember the famous Newport Jazz Festivals lest we forget!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HM: In the US it’s considered a ***strength*** that cultural events such as the Newport Jazz Fest are privately sponsored. If they can be self-supporting that way, all the better. I think Obama’s got plenty on his plate to attend to other than getting the GOP-dominated Congress to underwrite jazz (wish that it wasn’t so . . . ) Ellington and Basie throughout their careers never had government funding and did ok, so it can be done (or it used to be possible, anyway. . . )