For decades, brands have tried to use hip hop to sell us goods. It has only been in the last two decades or so as rap has become more commercial in it’s own aesthetic has it worked. Below are examples of times brands successfully used hip hop.
Oh McDonalds! The advertisers behind the golden arches have tried many times to use hip hop but it was when they cashed in on irony when they truly had our attention. Check out a young Thomas MiddleDitch (of Silicon Valley fame) beatbox his way into internet virality.
Norm Kelly’s Personal branding
It isn’t too often that politician dips into the hip hop world without appearing corny, but Toronto City Councillor Norm Kelly did something uncanny for a politician; he actually understood the future ditching the cul-de-sac for hanging out at the mean streets of Twitter. This politician took his brand to new levels when he weighed in the Meek Mill and Drake beef – a gutsy move since most politicians are afraid of taking a hard stance on anything.
They just mad cause we got the midas touch. pic.twitter.com/lqXzqwgYXA
— Norm Kelly (@norm) September 12, 2015
Wendys Stay Snatching Wigs
The Social Media Account Manager for Wendys, Amy Brown, deserves her props. She took Wendys from being a brand associated with old people to a young vibrant brand by releasing spicy tweets against their competitors. A classic example is when ma got into an embroiled beef; having a twitter rap battle with Wingstop – a restaurant often associated with Rick Ross due to him owning multiple franchise locations.
While Amy Brown as since moved on from the job due to the stress of being a social media personality, her spirit lives on as the brand continues to follow the voice of a young generation.
Chance the Rapper on Twitter
While Chance the Rapper is better known for his KitKat commercial, I see this ad as way more effective as it demonstrates the appeal of Twitter. Twitter is an immediate communication tool, and a way that artists can interact with their fans. This commercial has Chance ask his fans which songs he should perform at a local show prompting a heated debate.
Nike has Kobe Bryant Deliver Words of Wisdom
This commercial has Kobe Bryant deliver a Tony Robbins-style seminar with Kanye West. This ad has it all. It has Kanye not being too self-serious and appearing somewhat self-aware while Kobe executes his role as a guru flawlessly.
Sprite’s Long-Standing Partnership with Hip hop
A lot has been said about Sprite as a brand and its affinity with hip hop. Personally, I remember watching MTV2 back in the day and the effective Obey Your Thirst campaigns. None got to me as much as Nas and Az trading bars back and forth.
Vh1 Loves It Some Hip hop
Vh1 understands pop culture. So it’s no surprise they were on the cusp early when hip hop became pop culture. From Flavor of Love to the Love&Hip hop series, this tv channel has a history of showing hip hop love. Notable awards shows like the Hip hop Honors show, and classics like Ego Trippin’s The White Rapper show with Mc Serch helped cement the brand.
Boost Mobile Went City to City
Boost Mobile got rappers from various coasts (the dirty south, midwest, WestCoast) to prove city to city coverage. What makes this ad special is that it lets the rappers shine. Kanye’s personality shines through with him humorously announcing he’s keeping the beat for himself while The Game raps a verse that lets him have his moment as he was the rap golden boy at the time.
Pizza Hut In the Cut
One of the most unique advertising efforts on this list is when Pizza Hut brought things to a whole other level by creating DJ mixing boards out of their cardboard boxes. The cardboard boxes include everything; two turn tables, a cross-fader, pitch volumes and cue buttons.
Hamburger Helper Put Out A SoundCloud Mixtape
This advertising campaign worked so well that Wendys decided to copy it. But we giving it up to the OG. Hamburger Helper reached out to real artists to get a legitimate trap sound and feel.
*Bonus* Eminem’s Brisk Commercial
Eminem was once known as the anti-pop, anti-commercial guy, who got lucky and ended up famous. But at the height of his fame he became a pop culture icon – a grandiose achievement. Here is Eminem is at the height of his celebrity; poking fun of the fact that he is a celebrity.