To say that Jay-Z knows how to monetize hip hop is an understatement. He’s pioneered “poetry for profit” in a way that has led him to billionaire-to-be status, with Warren Buffet and “Barry O” on speed dial.
When he wants to sell something, he mentions it in a song. Usually, those items are closely tied to him: his Reebok shoe, his “Ace of Spades” champagne, his swank 40/40 club, his minority share of the Brooklyn Nets, and the list could go on.
What he’s done with his latest album should be considered a new card in the playing deck of marketing rules. Of course, everyone knows about his genius promotion with Samsung USA. If you don’t, Samsung pre-purchased 1,000,000 records to give away to high-end users. It was a play for loyalty, it was a play for conversion.
Samsung wanted people to know that there was a new king in town. They paved the way with Lebron James, they were to finish the path with King Hov. But, remember, he didn’t mention Samsung once in his poetry. They paid him his $5M and allowed him to leverage his work on a much wider stage. After his primetime, three minute commercial during the NBA finals, everyone knew that his album was arriving on “July Four”. *Brooklyn native voice*
Samsung bought “cool” and a trove of press mentions but in the end, their application failed and (sadly) reaffirmed Apple’s dominance. This is tough for me to say, considering I am a Samsung Galaxy faithful.
No one benefited from all of this more than Mr. Tom Ford, himself. One of America’s quintessential fashion designers, Ford turned Gucci around when they needed it most. And then developed one of the most powerful labels in fashion.
And then there was #MagnaCartaHolyGrail. The most magnetic beat on the album, the one that we were all looking forward to? Yes, it belonged to “Tom Ford”. An anthem that will surely change how pay-to-play marketing will be done in the future.The Tom Ford label was Jay-Z’s primary ad spender. They paid the most for the best real estate.
No different than a movie, a website, or a magazine - Carter sells ad space in his music.
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter keeps his most profitable bets close to vest. But what business media will be speculating over in the near future is this - Jay-Z didn’t provide $50 million in ad impressions for nothing. The “Tom Ford” anthem - widely the most popular on his album - is in fact a paid advertisement for the clothing label. In fact, he may have ownership in the burgeoning, nine year old red carpet institution.
The “Tom Ford” label was strong but now, it’s hip hop strong. Forget the Versace’s and Gucci’s. Those established brands are for molly poppers.
Look for more high-end hip hop artists to launch pay-to-play music campaigns for discerning brands. Jay-Z doesn’t pop mollies (like the rest of today’s trendy rap lames), he rocks Tom Ford. Tom Ford, Tom Ford, Tom Ford, Tom Ford. A brand that wants to reign supreme.
It is a new age of product placement. To Carter, music-as-a-marketing-vehicle is all hip hop is good for at this stage. Understand those new rules, yet?
*This is an opinion piece.