Always Coca-Cola: Celebrating Coca-Cola ESSENCE Festival Moments #CokeESSENCEFest #Spon

celebrating coca-cola essence festival moments #CokeESSENCEFest melisasource makeba giles
Makeba Giles

Makeba Giles

Content Creator and Curator at MELISASource
Makeba Giles is an Health, Family, and Lifestyle Blogger. She is also a Midwest Mother of four, and the Founder and Creative Director of MELISASource.com. |

EMAIL: [email protected]
Makeba Giles

*As a Coca-Cola VIP Blogger, my travel and accommodations for the 20th annual ESSENCE Festival were provided by the company.

 

One word: Amazing!!!

 

Last week I shared with you that I was invited by Coca-Cola to serve as a VIP Blogger for the 2014 ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. I must tell you that the experience far surpassed any and every dream that I have ever had of attending the festival over the years! It was an experience that I will never forget!

 

The best part of attending was doing so as a social media partner of a company that I immensely love! Coca-Cola has been a part of my life forever! I love more than just their products, I love their values and the many ways that they work to inspire and uplift communities around the globe. Indeed the concerts and celebrities of the ESSENCE Festival were thrilling, but I was more excited to get up close and personal with one of my favorite brands, and the driving forces behind how they fulfill their missions of well-being, social good, and empowering women. All of this while having a great time!

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I could go on and on, but instead I will just show you! Here are my Coca-Cola ESSENCE Festival Moments as a VIP Blogger from beginning to end in tweets and photos!

 

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Arriving at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center 

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My credentials for the weekend

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First up was the press conference to kick off the festival, where Coca-Cola celebrated their 19-years of being a partnering sponsor of the Essence Festival by discussing their 5by20 initiative, which seeks to empower 5 million women globally by the year 2020. The company also announced a pledge of 1 million dollars to aid women’s empowerment in the United States. This newest initiative will begin in selective markets throughout the country in partnership with Urban League, Rainbow Push Coalition, and SER.

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The ESSENCE main stage

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Rev. Al Sharpton with ESSENCE and Coca-Cola Executives, and the Mayor of New Orleans

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Next up was a sneak preview tour of the Coca-Cola ‘Happiness Booth.’ I had so much fun there! The DJ played a great mix of old and new school jams to keep the crowd moving! There was also a station to create a custom Coke can with a name of your choice, a fun photo share booth, and of course lots of complimentary Coca-Cola beverages! As the crowds grew heavier and heavier throughout the day, it was obvious that booth had far succeeded its goal of  inspiring creativity, happiness, and fun for the festival-goers.

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The main stage inside the Coca-Cola booth

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Coca-Cola did it big (literally) with this massive DJ tower! The song that he played were so good, I didn’t want to leave!

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Some of my favorite booth crew members! ~They kept a smile on my face!

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All of the booth workers were so happy! This young gentle man behind the beverage stand reminded me of my oldest son, Jedi. 😉

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The Coca-Cola crew showing the festival-goers what happiness is all about!

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This crew member was totally in a happiness moment!! Had to snap this shot of him!

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The #CokeEssenceFest Celebration Wall, where festival attendees could get their photos featured during the weekend.

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 From there it was off to lunch, where I dined with top Coca-Cola Executives (in fact, the same ones that are in the Rev. Al Sharpton photo above). Vice President of Public Relations Laurie George Billingsley, and  Lisa M. Borders, Chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation, and Vice President of Global Community. They shared more about the company’s mission, and how they collaborate with governments, civil society and other businesses for social good efforts to empower communities worldwide.  They also discussed Coca-Cola’s Sustainability project which focuses on embracing personal well-being, building stronger communities and protecting the environment.

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With Coca-Cola Vice President of Public Relations Laurie George Billingsley

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Later we were whisked away to the Mercedes Superdome for the evening concerts. We had the pleasure of enjoying the Coca-Cola VIP Hospitality Lounge throughout the night.

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I loved the atmosphere of the Coca-Cola Hospitality Lounge! Delicious food, comfortable seating and plenty of Coca-Cola beverages were on hand just for us.

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The dinner in the hospitality suite was wonderful every night!

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I enjoyed talking to Mr. Roland Martin of TV One

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 Friday night’s concerts featured Janelle Monet, Nile Rogers and Chic, and Prince, with Doug E. Fresh rocking the crowd in between performances. The stage sets and imagery were mind-blowing!   .

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Doug E. Fresh kept the crowd on their feet.

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Janelle Monet’s set was as energetic and electrifying as her performance!

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Nile Rogers and Chic used their set to bring back sweet memories of the days of spinning records and Saturday Mornings watching Soul Train.

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After Nile Rogers and Chic’s performance, I was shocked and excited to see a few of my tweets about the show displayed on the huge stage screens for everyone in the Superdome to see! (!!!!)

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Can you say: !!!!!!!!

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………and another one!! (!!!!!)

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Then it was time for His Royal Badness!! Although he did several surprise “pop-ups” onstage with Janelle and Chic, that didn’t detract any energy from his show!

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The ‘finale’ that wasn’t a finale…..Purple Rain. (he waited about 5 minutes, then came back on stage to jam with Janelle Monet and his band.

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Day two of the festival began with a women’s empowerment session hosted by Coca-Cola. The panel featured Pamela Stewart, Terrez Thompson, Claire Babineau, and LaTricia Hill-Chandler. The panel shared how women can create better economic opportunities for themselves, including tips for business and entrepreneurship, as well as tools for empowerment and self-worth. 

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Coca-Cola kept the empowerment going with a wellness chat session featuring Ashley Hicks and Toni Carey, founders of Black Girls Run and Denise Warren of Body By Denise. The panel discussed the importance of proper nutrition and physical activity in women; and how such plays an essential role in overall well-being. They also shared some insight on food labels, meal preparation, and exercising correctly for optimal results.

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Next it was time for some inspiration from entertainment. Tyrese Gibson took the main stage with a Q&A session with media personality Rashan Ali. The singer discussed everything from his personal journey with Coca-Cola, and how he stays motivated, to business advice and self-confidence. 

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Tyrese made the crowd go wild on the Coca-Cola main stage

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After the Q&A session, we were able to have a one-on-one chat session with Tyrese in the Coca-Cola VIP suite backstage.

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Tyrese is so inspiring! He shared many pearls of wisdom with us!

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Group photo with Tyrese and fellow Coca-Cola VIP Bloggers

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. . In the evening of day 2 was the private Coca-Cola VIP dinner. Rev. Jesse Jackson expressed gratitude to Coca-Cola for their decades of philanthropy and work on social issues both nationally and globally.  Tyrese also graced the stage to share how the company has positively impacted his life and career.

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Another change of clothes, then it was off to the second night of concerts!.

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On my way to the Superdome

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Evening two featured performances my Ledisi, The Roots, and Mary J. Blige. (my phone and charging pack died, so I didn’t get to take as many photos. 🙁   )

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Mary J. Blige performing on the Superdome stage

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Sunday’s activities began bright and early with the Coca-Cola 5k Run/Walk. In partnership with Black Girls Run, the event was all about promoting physical activity and wellness. The route began at the famous Riverwalk and took us through the historic French Quarter.

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Fellow VIP Blogger (and my Homegirl) Brandi Riley all set for the Coca-Cola 5k Run/Walk at the 2014 Essence Festival New Orleans

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It was so good to see such a great turnout for the 5k!

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Coca-Cola ESSENCE Festival Moments

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Our final event was a private bus tour of New Orleans with Coca-Cola. There was so much to see, and our tour guide shared a wealth of the city’s history and culture with us! During the tour, we learned about how Coca-Cola was one of the first companies to step in to help during Hurricane Katrina for rescue, recovery, and rebuilding.

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Coca-Cola ESSENCE Festival Moments

Being a Coca-Cola VIP Blogger for the 2014 Essence Festival was hands-down one of the greatest experiences in my life. I have always seen the company as more than just a brand: Coca-Cola is a feeling-and movement to do, to be, and to live better and reach higher while reaching out to lend a hand to others. After this weekend it was clearer to me that Coca-Cola knows that when women are empowered, communities thrive, and it was a privilege to become more versed in how the company is paving a forward path for women around the world. I left feeling not only inspired and empowered, but reborn and renewed: ready to live better. I felt  empowered to find ways to do more to make a change in my community and to inspire other women. It also served as a great reminder to me to be grateful. Not just for the big things like attending ESSENCE Fest and partnering with Coca-Cola, but for the little things as well.

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Coca-Cola ESSENCE Festival Moments

I want to give a HUGE thanks to Coca-Cola for the invitation and opportunity to celebrate ESSENCE Festival moments. They made my dreams come true—and then some!!

 

Coca-Cola ESSENCE Festival Moments

I would also like to give a special thanks to a handful of the many companies that worked tirelessly to create the best Coca-Cola ESSENCE Festival Moments for myself and my fellow VIP Bloggers.

 

Annunciation Fine Dining:  website | Twitter | Facebook 

Limousine Livery: website | Facebook | Twittter

Roosevelt New Orleans | Waldorf Astoria Hotel: website | Facebook | Twitter

Domenica Restaurant: website | Facebook | Twitter

 

 Coca-Cola ESSENCE Festival Moments

 

 

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