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Product Placement in the Hip Hop World

  • Date Submitted: 12/22/2010 11:53 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 61.8 
  • Words: 3008
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It all begins in 1986. Rappers Run D.M.C. are performing to a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden. Run stops the music and tells everyone to take off their Adidas and raise them in the air.   The arena fills with the smell of fresh bought sneakers but to the Adidas executives their manager made sure were there, it reeked of marketing possibilities. The trio write an unabashed love letter to their favourite shoes and the next thing they know, Run D.M.C. became the first hip hop act to be sponsored by a corporation (a $1.5 million contract to be exact). Hip hop would never be the same again.

Seven years earlier, when the Sugarhill Gang bragged about their "Lincoln Continental and sunroof Cadillac," the idea that rappers could get paid for mainstream endorsements was out of the question. Now, rappers are well aware that every brand name they drop can mean money—both officially and under-the-table (The Grain, 2009).

Hearing a brand name in a song or seeing a logo in a music video is no longer just a product of an artist’s affinity for that brand. In the United States, PQ media estimates that every year $30.4 million is invested into product placement in songs (Lehu, 2007, p. 173).. In 2007 Candie’s clothing line announced that they will pay hip hop singer Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas $4 million to promote and reference their products in the lyrics of her next CD. An executive at Fergie’s record label Interscope says, “With record sales in decline, you must find novel ways to make money out of the music. The trick is to make the brand part of the song so that it slips down easily rather than chokes the fan” (Piccoli, But she doesn't sing jingles, 2007). The secret is out: product placement is in.

Unlike in magazines, song lyrics aren’t required to point out when they are an advertisement. And with the rise of TiVo and PVR, many people are skipping commercials altogether. It’s only natural for advertisers to find another way to market their product. Run...

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