Melanie Few Marketing Pioneer Celebrates 25th Anniversary of the Super Bowl Soulful Celebration February 10th on CBS
This week we’re speaking with one of my favorite people. Melanie Few is a marketing executive who dreamed big. Twenty-five years ago she became one of the first Black women to receive an official license from the NFL to produce the Super Bowl Gospel Festival now known as the Super Bowl Soulful Celebration. While this is the event that Melanie Few is known for, her career in marketing faith and gospel to mainstream entities began long before this event. I reached out to Melanie during Super Bowl season to speak about the transformation and growth of her seminal event but also to share how she began her work in marketing faith. Melanie Few welcome to The Local Take.
While most people know your work with the NFL, you began this work years ago. Can we start at the beginning? When I speak about your work I always start with Kirk Franklin and his sponsorship from Coca-Cola and you were all in that deal. Few explains that her corporate marketing career turned from working with General Mills to joining the launch of an event series “Fresh On The Scene” for a menthol cigarette. While she liked the work she didn’t feel any passion promoting a tobacco product.
She attended a Black Expo event where an up and coming artist Kirk Franklin was performing. She met him, and he mentioned that he was performing with a small choir, which was expensive. He spoke to her about finding a sponsor to support his concerts. Few believed that she’d be able to obtain a sponsor for Franklin’s upcoming holiday tour. The first sponsor was Church’s Chicken because Franklin shared a story with her about his association with the brand. Then in a first Few obtained sponsorship from Coca-Cola. It was the first time that the brand had sponsored a gospel artist. Few was also part of T. D. Jakes’ sponsorship deal with Hallmark.
I asked Few how she came to believe that gospel and faith could be used to market corporate America. She speaks about the love of gospel music being appreciated across every demographic. Her pitch to corporate diversity marketing teams was that 1 in 4 people appreciate gospel music it transcends, race and age. She also speaks about her mother Rev. Elizabeth Few who was an educator who preached “nothing beats a failure, but a try.”
The Super Bowl Gospel Festival now known as the Super Bowl Soulful Celebration is celebrating its 25th Anniversary and will be hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold, February 10th on CBS. I asked Few how this event made her the first Black woman to obtain an NFL license for her event. She shares that she wrote letters to the NFL every year expressing the need for an inspirational event. Finally they said if you can get a big star somebody like Gladys Knight we’ll do it. Few says little did they know that she’s an Atlanta girl and her aunt went to school with Glady Knight. She shares their response when she came back with a commitment from Gladys Knight. Few’s event has attracted talent such asPatti Labelle, Snoop Dogg and this year she’ll have Earth, Wind and Fire.
She speaks about the struggle of being an entrepreneur and that people rarely understand the pain behind the scenes. She mentions thinking about walking away from the event when her father, Moses Few was sick. She told him she might be unable to do it without him as he had been her best friend and biggest support. He told her she couldn’t walk away until her 25th Anniversary and that it wouldn’t be right. Few shared her desire to make her parents proud.
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