Ruth Ballin Marketing Oxnard Salsa FestCLIENT: Oxnard Downtowners

The Oxnard Downtowners, a group of merchants and business owners, joined together in 1994 to launch a new event celebrating Oxnard’s multicultural heritage, agricultural roots and abundance of Mexican restaurants – the Oxnard Salsa Festival. The Downtowners hoped that this event would showcase revitalization efforts underway, and help change perceptions about Oxnard as unsafe. A relatively small community festival in its early years, the Salsa Festival in 1999 was poised to capitalize on the growing popularity of not just salsa the condiment, but also the music and the dance. Ballin was hired to take the festival to grow the festival  from a local community celebration to a regional event.

Key Strategies

  • Capitalize on the popularity of salsa music and dancing as an emerging trend– and brand the Oxnard Salsa Festival a celebration of all things salsa – the food, the music and the dance.
  • Build a regional campaign on free and low-cost marketing initiatives to generate buzz regionally about downtown Oxnard and the festival.
  • Create a first-rate, FREE family-friendly festival that was clean, safe and well managed.

PR & Marketing Initiatives

  • Media Outreach – Press Releases, Press Kits, Media reps as contest judges
  • Amtrak partnership
  • Salsa Menu Guide showcasing local restaurants
  • Special Contests (recipe, dance)
  • Multi-media sponsorship ad campaigns (cable, radio, print, online)
  • Colorful/branded graphics and merchandising
  • Website
  • Social Media (Facebook)

The Results

  • Grew Festival weekend attendance from 12,000 to 50,000 in just a few years.
  • Garnered regional attention and positive PR for Oxnard through wide-reaching media including KTLA-TV, The Food Network, LA Times, Santa Barbara News Press, Saveur, Westways, and many more publications.
  • Earned recognition as “Best Cultural Event” in Ventura County – VC Reporter Readers Poll – year after year.
  • Increased out of town visitors – in partnership with the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau and Amtrak – from 0% to 40%, resulting in overnight stays and Oxnard hotels, and increased sales for local businesses.