Are ZA Brands Missing The Point About Hip Hop Culture ?

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We all know that brands have strong associations and ambassadorship partnerships with both Hip Hop culture and its plethora of artists.

This goes back to the times of the clothing brand boom of RUN DMC with adidas, LL Cool J with Kangol, Tupac with Versace (yes, he even walked a fashion show in Italy for the brand) or more recently, the biggest of its time, Jay-Z with Reebok RBK sneakers (you remember the S.Carters range).

In recent times, alcohol brands have since taken over the mantle investing and building more prominent & mutually beneficial association and partnerships with Hip Hop artists. I mean, who can forget the pioneering tenure of Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella repping Cristal champagne (then later on Armand de Brignac or more popularly known as, Aces of Spades, because the former “m*****f*****s racist”). Other examples can be found in Hennessey’s association to Nas or both Puff Daddy and DJ Khaled association to Ciroc vodka. These brands have not being shy in demonstrating their confidence and trust in the Hip Hop artists to use their power and influence to push their brand in as much as the brand has invested in them as a face and ambassador.

Locally, we have also seen the trend grow from the announcement of Prokid as the face and ambassador for Fish Eagle to more recent announcements of the likes of DA Les and DJ Dimples as regional ambassadors for Ciroc, Riky Rick for Russian Bear vodka, Khuli Chana for Absolut Vodka and, more notably, AKA’s announcement as the official ambassador for Cruz Vodka (clearly, Hunters could only afford a TV ad feature and event performance from Supa Mega).

It’s no question that there are a number of international examples that have set the precedence and advocated for the motion that brands and Hip Hop artists can have a mutually beneficial and successful working relationships. Especially, when there is clarity and alignment between the parties on (1) what the set objectives of a collaboration in a venture are and (2) what the expectations from each stakeholder will be to ensure the success of the working relationship.

Let’s be honest, despite the growing trend happening locally, there is still more evidence that investment in a local Hip Hop artist as an ambassador as being more reckless expenditure rather than brand building given how loosely they chop and change ambassadors just to try drive more appeal for their brand. And truth be told, brands have opted to invest rather in building association with a Hip Hop hit maker as a small role in a bigger campaign rather than securing them as an ambassador the brand can partner and grow with. The reasons for this are more often than not, linked to risks to brand equity rather than failure to achieve set sales goals (look at what Ariel achieved when giving away Khaya Mthetwa’s CD for free with every purchase).

Here Are Three Tips You Can Choose To Follow Dear Rapper

“You Eating”?

1.Local artists need to stop allowing brands to make them brand whores with no evident sense of loyalty towards the very same values and lifestyle they claim to lead and stand for. There is more value in being a Hip Hop artist, who is not gigging for any and every brand but rather is selective about the brand’s he gigs and works with. Ask Khuli Chana. Ask Cassper Nyovest. He showed the game his ass and now all brands are clamouring for him to give them a more reasonable rate to have him as associated to their brand.

“Twitter Numbers Does Not Equal Engagement. You Just Got Reach Bro”

2.Brands need to stop approaching ambassadorship using an influencer programme approach. Be invested in how you can tell a more congruent and integrated story between brand and Hip Hop artist narrative. Because consumers do not want to hear marketing talk via the current flavour of the month. Consumers would rather have the current flavour of the month speak opening and honestly, in their own uninfluenced voice, about their opinion on a brand they love or hate rather than having them sound like they were shown a big carrot that honestly, if there wasn’t a gun to their head, they would not give it any mind. #AuthenticitySpeaksVolumes

“Grow The Culture”

3.There is nothing wrong in brands wanting to help establish (not grow) a Hip Hop artists brand in exchange for them ensuring your brand achieves the objectives promised the business senior management and directors for investing in marketing activities. Complacency can be a m*****f****** if not safe guarded, especially in the context of brand x Hip Hop artist collaborations. If both agency and brand are lazy to understand the narrative behind a said Hip Hop artist or Hip Hop artist, not be clear as to what they want to stand for and achieve as a brand… Everyone is going to get f***ed when it comes to accounting for undertaking the exercise.

Clarity and alignment on expectations means everyone knows the role they play and the responsibilities that rest on their shoulders in achieving a mutually beneficial working relationship. Riky Rick with Russian Bear and Cassper Nyovest with #Hashtag mobile (despite the initial mishap of posting a picture with him holding an iPhone rather than new device he just launched) are testament adding a performance based incentive to an ambassadorship contract can mitigate the most often risk associated with local artist.

In conclusion local artists have power and I truly believe that your power should not be exploited. You should be calling the shots x not

Words By Shadow The Strategist !

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