The Lesson on Content Marketing From Drake and ‘Hotline Bling’ That You Can’t Afford To Miss ☎️📞📱☎️📞📱
Artistic and musical preference aside, Drake has one of the MOST effective brands in terms of utilizing content marketing: Drake knows what it takes to make content “viral” and he knows how to inspire his audience to engage with his content to his own benefit.
If you’ve been paying attention to hip hop you’ve seen some of this strategy employed with the utilization of both emoji and meme culture throughout Drake’s ‘beef’ with another mainstream rapper, Meek Mill.
Lately Drake has been performing on stages around the country with insulting memes of Meek Mill projected behind him, and the Drake Fan-Army has taken to the Internet in creating an unimaginable amount of ammo with those content prompts. Likewise, the title of his single-release diss track ‘Charged Up’ — or cleverly abbreviated to 🔋⬆️ — became an effective two-character comment bomb that Drake fans have littered Meek Mill’s tweets, instagram posts and Facebook posts with relentlessly.
By creating simple vehicles for creativity and involvement Drake demonstrates the immense power of putting you brand statement in the hands of your audience.
With the Hotline Bling music video many similar philosophies are present, with some new ones as well. If you consider these “campaigns,” the Meek Mill Beef Campaign was serving primarily the campaign goals of embarrassing and trivializing Meek Mill and demonstrating Drake's ‘market superiority’ over him in the world of hip hop.
The Hotline Bling Campaign has a different definition of success: mass relatability.
The song itself indicates its agenda with its broad, simple, patterned repetition of lyrics that are easy to remember, get stuck in your head, and sing along to: (“ever since I left the city you // you used to, you used to”) as well as the unbelievably relatable subject of cell phone calls from a lover.
The video takes it a step further though, with a conscious nod to the content creator beyond just the average listener.
At the risk of oversimplifying, the Hotline Bling video is essentially a string of absurd, cocky, goofy, and outrageous Drake solo dance moves in front of a high contrast background — and that’s pretty much it. He could have just made the official music video with clips of raw green screen footage if that wouldn’t be so on-the-nose.
This was a piece of video content crafted to be consumable by itself, but with the true intention (and value) of being a prime sample for remixing.
Within a matter of days, thousands of videos have appeared on literally every social platform that show either Drake dancing in front of a hilarious background or his dance moves being incorporated into a hilarious situation. Don’t look at this and think for a second that it is accidental; this is an instance of Drake saying “jump” and the Internet saying “LOL ok how high?”
By designing his content to not just be a completed standalone piece but rather a source for manifesting the content of others Drake has struck gold — the sheer volume of Hotline Bling related content that exists now vastly outweighs any reach Drake may have had if that content was driven purely by himself.
So what are the takeaways?
Be Genuine At The Core
It’s frustrating that this needs to be brought up over and over again in content marketing but your audience can always tell when something is forced. A BIG part of what made this video work was that at the core of it was Drake genuinely just dancing and enjoying himself, and the visibly intense passion for self enjoyment invited the participation of his audience.
Be Playful — Or Be Prepared to Be Hurt
The timing was essential here as Drake was riding a massive high from multiple song releases, amazing chart performance, and his victory over Meek Mill. It was a time when Drake could allow himself to be the butt of jokes to demonstrate a necessary humility and relatability. Drake knew a lot of these memes would make him look foolish — but that wasn’t a concern, otherwise he wouldn’t have released such an opportunity-rich piece of source content. Regardless of how silly Drake looks throwing pizzas and shooting lasers out of his eyes, it’s still building his brand and further cementing his self asserted position of market superiority.
If you’re going to invite your audience to help you create your brand you should absolutely be prepared for all the uncertainty that entails — and be in the right state of business to handle it.
Be As Accessible As Possible
This is both a conceptual and technical piece of advice. On one hand naming a track something like ‘Charged Up’ gives your audience an immediately accessible battle cry in a succinct 2-character emoji. Hotline Bling was written to be accessible by a massive audience and Drake’s goofy dance moves have an accessibility through humor that permeates different subcultures.
On the other hand is the technical awareness of the content creators you are attempting to engage and inspire. By utilizing a cinematography that was laden with high contrast and silhouette shots Drake shows some conscious consideration for the amateur video editor and average Internet humorist. The visual design of the whole video makes it incredibly easy from a technical standpoint to isolate Drake dancing or insert other elements in the video with little skill or effort.
This is perhaps the most insightful observation, as this technical accessibility is truly what enables the audience to engage with and remix the source content. Without doing this well the entire remix campaign fails.
I could keep going on for days about the marketing lessons available in Drake Internet culture... But if I’m being honest I’d rather go watch another 100 or so hilarious Hotline Bling remix videos.
I recommend you do the same.