Gretsch celebrates 125 years with online outreach and a competition

SAVANNAH, GA: The Gretsch Company, which produces drums and guitars, is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year with an unsigned artists competition.

SAVANNAH, GA: The Gretsch Company, which produces drums and guitars, is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year with an unsigned artists competition. Held solely online, the competition was a brainchild of Grestch's AOR, Jackson Spalding, which is using social networks including MySpace, a special anniversary Web site, and online outreach to attract musicians to compete and fans to vote.

"On a limited budget, we poured a lot of our resources into getting bands to enter the competition, which caused a ripple effect," said Randall Kirsch of Jackson Spalding. The PR campaign had a budget of $250,000, he said, and more than 850 bands signed up for the competition.

Gretsch wanted to reach not only its target audience of performing musicians and musical retailers, but "in our anniversary year, we felt we had an opportunity to introduce ourselves to a broader audience of music fans and the general public who aren't as familiar with the Gretsch brand," said Fred Gretsch, president and CEO, in an email.

In order to reach out to the general public, the message of the campaign was that Gretsch is a family-owned business with a rich history, and has provided guitars for such legends as Bono, George Harrison, Brian Setzer, and Phil Collins.

After voting for the competition wraps up on July 16, the top three artists will compete in a battle of the bands in New York in November, with the winner walking away with Gretsch gear. The company is also hosting the Gretsch 125th Anniversary Tour, with stops in California, Michigan, Kansas, and New York.

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