Brands that are able to adapt to the culture are the brands that survive. The ability to be a household name from generation to generation is the ultimate goal.
The biggest brands don’t stay afloat for a year or two, they stay relevant for decades. So how do they do it? They adapt.
From Run DMC’s Adidas sneaker endorsement back in 1986 to A$AP Rocky taking control of Under Armour’s lifestyle department, hip-hop can be a useful marketing device.
As hip-hop and R&B are now the world’s most listened to genres, brands latching on to the culture is a must. Check out these brands we think are killing the game by throwing an endorsement behind hip-hop.
Hennessy x Nas
Almost every rap fan out there sips on the Henny because all of their favorite rappers talk about Henny. Hennessy’s Nas endorsement changed the game.
Instead of the average and generic party scene, Hennessy wanted to focus on empowering the people to become a master of their class, who else but Nas to express this?
This is a partnership that was long overdue. Nasty Nas has always shown love for the cognac brand. According to an interview he did with Black Enterprise last year,
“I’ve been talking and rapping about Hennessy since Illmatic. In 2013, I was the face of the second year of the brand’s “Wild Rabbit” campaign. In 2014 the Wild Rabbit campaign featured iconic race-car driver Malcolm Campbell – I provided the voiceover for that TV spot.
This year, I’m lending my voice for the newest iteration of the campaign called ‘The Piccards.’ The message behind the campaign is all about pushing the limits of one’s potential and breaking down barriers.
Never stop. Never settle. I believe in this message. I push my own limits every day, every moment —- in the studio, on the stage and beyond, so it’s truly a genuine fit.”
The empowering Wild Rabbit campaign put it on for a long term relationship between Nasir Jones and Hennessy and it’s a partnership that sparked campaigns with other hip-hop artists.
Sprite and like every rapper ever
Sprite has been putting it on for the rap game from the genre’s boom to the mainstream. They started out with Curtis Blow as seen above in the 1986 ad. This ad serves as a marker in the hip-hop timeline as one of the first national campaigns to ever feature the genre.
The lemon-lime beverage continued to crush the game with their “I Like the Sprite in You” campaign in the ’90s pushing through to their current campaign “Obey Your Thirst.” The latter campaign, which has featured the likes of Nas, A Tribe Called Quest (RIP Phife Dawg), and Pete Rock proved itself to be a staple in the marketing game.
Since then, the campaign has taken a different form in “Obey Your Verse” throwing lyrics on the can from legendary rappers to newcomers.
This campaign was one of the flyest we’ve seen…
Shout out to the homie Vince Staples.
Sprite has stayed with the times and never looked to take advantage of the genre, they just had an overall respect for it. Peep what Jamal Booker, manager of Heritage Communications for Coca-Cola, had to say about Sprite,
“They went to artists who had an appreciation of the culture, and the commercials had an authentic tone. Sprite struck a chord with the artists, so that when the next series of commercials ran, the next artists would say ‘yes’ and they connected with brand. Part of what made Sprite successful is the appreciation of the art form and culture.”
Puma has really been out here too
Puma has been apart of the hip-hop movement from its early days. Rocked by only the toughest b-boys around, the iconic Puma suede shoe started the unofficial hip-hop and Puma collaboration.
Since then, Puma has incorporated hip-hop into their brand in many different ways. But compared to other sportswear giants like Nike and Adidas they have had trouble finding the right way to pave their own lane.
It wasn’t until a decade into the millennium where we started to see Puma fiercely attack the mainstream hip-hop culture.
Puma made the right move endorsing new age hip-hop artists.
Like Rihanna throwing her artistic touch into Puma’s Fenty collection…
An exclusive sneaker collab with The Weeknd, the PUMAXO…
Fashionista Young Thug…
And the homie Big Sean
There will be a lot more to come from the German shoe brand in the coming years. Rae Sremmurd, Vic Mensa, Casey Veggies, and Meek Mill are also endorsed by Puma.
Nautica x Lil Yachty
Lil Yachty has his own Urban Outfitters capsule collection and as the Creative Designer of Nautica.
The ATL rapper is looking to take the company to new fashion heights.
“Nautica Lil Boat, boy, I don’t wear Hilfiger, no”
Call it Lil Boat lime green
Nautica hopped on the scene in 1983 and it was embraced by the hip-hop culture almost immediately. Their trendy color waves caught the eyes of ’90s rappers and still remains a fashion staple in the hip-hop game.
Hopefully this Lil Yachty collaboration will keep Nautica exactly at the level of relevance they’re searching for.
Sprint x Tidal
Needing a beacon of hope to surpass their competitors, Sprint did something out of the ordinary pairing up with Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal. Back in January, Sprint acquired 33 percent of the music streaming service hoping to boost its popularity.
The $200 million collaboration is a prime example of adapting to the mainstream to stay afloat. Hopefully for Sprint it continues to work as customers of the telecom brand and Tidal subscribers are able to view exclusive content.
Wingstop and Rick Ross
Nothing like being a boss in the rap game and franchising a company you believe in. Rick Ross throwing his bread behind Wing Stop was the epitome of genius.
Check out the video above to see the seed Ross has planted.
Combining a hip-hop influence with a food franchise has never looked better.
Mercedes Benz cops A$AP Rocky
This might be the one the hottest collabs I’ve ever seen; a German car company and a rapper from Harlem. As you know, owning a Mercedes Benz is every rapper’s dream.
Do you remember 50 Cent hustling on the corner to buy that all white Benz in his biopic Get Rich or Die Trying? I do. It was only a matter of time until a car company took advantage of the growing genre. Definitely a smart marketing move for the high-class car company.
The last time I saw a car company take a chance on a rapper is when Eminem hopped in a Chrysler and, according to Forbes, the CEO of the Detroit automobile company almost shit his pants taking a chance on Eminem. Sergio Marchionne said,
“You know, I love Eminem but… I also know that some of the choices of language that he has made are things that are not what I would consider to be commonly shared.”
Peep Eminem for Chrysler back in 2011
Hopefully, the synergy between brands and hip-hop continues to grow. Who knows? Maybe one day brands won’t have a choice!