Haiti’s carnival was scheduled to begin on the 7th of February, but a note from Haitian officials declared that all parade activities were canceled for the first day. Groans resounded all over social media, but ardent fans of Haiti’s carnival festivities weren’t too worried. They knew they would still get a taste of Haiti’s carnival through the website Plezi Kanaval. So, when another announcement was released assuring carnival-goers that the show would go on, PleziKanaval visitors had even more reasons to rejoice.
Founded by Haiti-based, multimedia personality Carel Pedre, the website is seen by many as the premiere destination for all things Kanaval. “Plezikanaval is a one-stop shop for all your carnival needs,” says radio host Fabiola Couplet, who counts herself among Plezi Kanaval’s 31,000+ Twitter followers. It’s not surprising that she sounds like she’s reading the first lines of an infomercial. Plezi Kanaval’s popularity has grown through word-of-mouth buzz. “You can get the music,” she points out, “gain insider information through the platform…[lots of] solid content and follow the flow of killer photographs and lives takes of the event.”
The “event” is three days of parades, street revelries, and bright floats. Plezi Kanaval makes it possible for Haiti’s carnival to have life beyond those three days. “I think it helps bring an entire global community of Haitians and carnival lovers around this single event that has always been at the heart of our culture,” Coupet points out. “This means more international exposure for the event and more promotion for the artists featured on the site.”
Coupet points out to the site’s comprehensive carnival coverage, the live images, aerial photos and the insider interviews as game-changing factors in the promotion of Haiti’s carnival. She’s convinced that PleziKanaval.com has changed the perception of the carnival among Haiti’s artists. “I think that the awesome competition the platform brings—groups seeking more downloads, Plezikanaval Awards etc—has given carnival artists in general better incentive to submit higher quality products every year,” she attests.
And she thinks the venture has widen Pedre’s audience. “Carel has always been a multimedia innovator and leader in all things social media in Haiti,” she observes. “His morning radio show, Chokarella has revolutionized the way people rate a great radio show from the rest and this is mostly because of the interactive experience Carel offers his listeners and followers. I think PLezikanaval is Carel’s baby, it’s the fruit of years of experience and hard work and the culmination of his passion for Haitian culture and multimedia.”
Plezi Kanaval founder Carel Pedre answered some questions in regards to the platform, and what it’s like marketing Haiti’s carnival to the world.
CAREL PEDRE Q&A
Kreyolicious: I remember reading in the archives of Rolling Stones about a Scandinavian band that had traveled to Haiti in the 1990s for carnival. Today, a site like Plezi Kanaval spreads Haitian Carnival all over the globe via the web. What countries are you surprised to see when you look at your analytics?
I’m not really surprised when I look at the analytics because I know there’s Haitians everywhere in the world. But, looking at the amount of views from countries like Timor-Leste or Oman makes me thing that if we market our carnival events right, we can seduce the world.
Kreyolicious: Do you feel that Plezi Kanaval has achieved all the goals you have for it?
Even if we’re the Number One website for [the] Haitian carnival, I don’t think we have achieved all [our] goals. We have a lot more to do, and a lot more to offer to our country, the carnival itself and the users [whether accessing the site via the] web [or] mobile.
Kreyolicious: What are some of the feedback you’ve received from fans and readers about the site?
The positive feedback [is] overwhelming, but the users want to have more control of the app and the website. They want to be able to create their playlist within the app, for example. They want to be able to personalize their PleziKanaval.com experience. They want more content. We’re working on that.
Kreyolicious: The word Plezi means “pleasure” in Creole. But what are some of the most stressful things—some unpleasant factors…that come with managing a site of this magnitude?
I like this question ’cause people don’t really know the unpleasant side of what we’re doing to satisfy them. Every year, I’m dealing with some musicians’ egos. I receive threats. I become the target of some angry fans—even if I do my best to treat everyone fairly. It’s not an easy season for me, especially this [time around]. I have barely slept for four hours this past month. I don’t only have Plezi Kanaval to deal with, [but] I’m [also] part of the carnival committee. We uploaded 653 carnival songs, and more than 40 music videos both on Youtube and Facebook. To do that, you need a good internet service—which is a luxury in Haiti.
[Main photo Credit: Jumenes Coreus/Dezobri; All others via Plezi Kanaval]
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