Has any genre had as much impact on advertising as Hip-Hop?


Two words, MY ADIDAS! 

Thirty years later, there may still not be a better example of the impact hip-hop has made on branding.  Sprite, Reebok, Courvoisier, Heineken, and HP have all at one time had hip-hop artist(s) at the forefront of their commercials; and that’s just to name a few.  Hip-hop has now taken its rightful place in the spotlight.


Many already know the origins of hip-hop, but few understand its roots past the rapping aspect.  The hip-hop culture has changed the game in music, dance, art, fashion, and sports.  Last year Billboard magazine sparked an uproar when they published their “10 Best Rappers of All Time,” causing major controversy over the rappers included and order in which they are ranked.

Billboard-Names-Their-10-Greatest-Rappers-Of-All-Time-Did-They-Get-It-RightJay Z ranked second on their list, but Jay Z the artist has transformed into Shawn Carter the business mogul.  His protégé, Kanye West, now has one of the most expensive clothing brands in fashion, his sneaker deals with Nike and Adidas have often commanded prices upwards of $1500 per pair.  Other artists such as Nicki Minaj and A$AP Rocky have graced the covers of well know fashion magazines such as Vogue.  But fashion hasn’t been the only industry taken over by hip-hop.

R-251998-1184520106.jpegIn 2002, Busta Rhymes released the Pass the Courvoisier remix.  Not only did the song get massive airplay on the radio and in clubs, the sale of the brandy line went sky-high.   Featured on both versions of the song, was Sean “Diddy” Combs who has been the face of various products including vodka brand Cirôc.  Since Combs linked up with Cirôc, sales increased from $169,000 in 2008 to $2 million in 2015.  Most recently, the cognac brand Hennessy has aired commercials featuring rapper Nas’ voiceover narrating each one.

Nas himself has grown from being one of the most lyrical emcees of all time, to a covert business mogul.  As a founding member of Queensbridge Venture Partners, Nas’ list of investments exceeds 40 companies.  Some companies included in his portfolio include Dropbox, Lyft, Tilt, and personal grooming brand Bevel.  It has become the norm for rappers, both new and old school, to have a portfolio of sponsorship deals.


However not every brand has welcomed the profits generated from the hip-hop culture.  Tommy Hilfiger was once a premier brand shown throughout music videos and magazine covers.  That was until he made racially charged statements inferring that if he had known so many minorities would be wearing his clothes he would not have made them so nice.  Despite the huge spike in brand recognition the hip-hop community supplied Hilfiger with, he continues to state that he would rather his brand be geared towards the preppy elite than the likes of rappers.

Hip-hop is no longer just the expression of the poor inner-city residents, it is just as much a culture of the suburban elite as it is for the ghettos.  Rappers such as Action Bronson host cooking shows, DJ’s such as Whoo Kid travel across the globe spinning at parties and hosting satellite radio shows.   Hip-hop shows are packed around the world filled with fans from diverse backgrounds and cultures.  For some, the lyrics to their favorite rap songs are the only English they speak.


If you want your brand to really grow in profits and recognition, find a way to get a relevant rapper or DJ to mention you in a lyric, wear a t-shirt of yours, or post your product to their Instagram page.