Hip-hop has left its mark on popular culture to inspire everything from fashion brands to social media trends. As a result, big brands have embraced hip-hop artists in their marketing to take advantage of the artists’ creativity and fame – but this can have mixed results. The Drum explores winners and losers by setting the rhythms.
In recent years, collaborations with rapper brands such as McDonald’s Travis Scott Meal, Just Eat Jingle with Snoop Dogg, and Reebok’s Cardi B collaborations have been hugely lucrative for both the company and the star. . Hip-hop music has firmly established itself in the mainstream of marketing.
The idea of hip-hop and brand partnerships can be extremely dynamic due to the daring nature of hip-hop itself. “Hip-hop is the voice of those who are culturally relevant. It is the sound and expression of movement, a personification of real issues and subjects, which has been translated into music rooted in jazz, blues and Motown, ”says Elijah Torn, Global Executive Creative Director by MassiveMusic New York.
In addition to challenging society and bringing people together, there is a level of self-promotion embedded in hip-hop that attracts brands. “Whether it’s calling out fake rappers or throwing bigger graffiti on train six, hip-hop’s self-expression has always been a first-person narrative. This prospect can range from positive to brash or even ostentatious affirmations and has often led to product placement in his words, ”Torn adds.
The most memorable ads are those that tell the story of the human experience – real stories about real people. It connects people in “the same way hip-hop does: that’s why the two are a fashionable match made in heaven.” Brands see this as a sponsorship opportunity to attract a younger audience and artists recognize that they could take advantage of it by pointing to them in their lyrics – it’s a winning combination.
Torn quotes Mike Will Made it and Fanta; Tyler, the creator and Coke; or A $ AP Rocky in just about everything from Fifa and Samsung to Adidas and Best Buy, like some of the more notable spots of recent times.
Of course, like everything, once a product, song, or piece of art hits the mainstream, there will always be the idea that it loses some of its cool credentials. “Today, hip-hop is main stream. Pop culture has constantly tried to borrow and steal it for almost forty years, never giving it proper credit, ”notes Torn.
Brands are constantly trying to find new ways to reach younger audiences. Working with certain rappers makes hip-hop more accessible and commercial, and in turn organizations seem to be more alternative and cooler by default – if the campaign is well run.
With anything, there will always be hiccups, and “using a celebrity should never come at the cost of a bad creative idea,” advises Torn. Partnerships must be authentic and hit the right notes both acoustically and visually. It comes down to education, and brands that go to work with hip-hop stars in their marketing without doing their homework “lend themselves to ridicule,” Torn pointing to Drake’s Sprite ad and the MC Hammer and KFC deal like failed collaborations. .
Music has always been a gateway to fashion and culture, and with hip-hop dominating the charts, it may seem obvious for brands to work with megastar rappers. The most important question, however, that brands need to ask themselves is, “How authentic are we?” “
Torn concludes, “The audience will see through the obvious appropriation of culture for commercial purposes, rather than engaging in partnerships that seem real and meaningful. “