Friday, September 19, 2008

Between a Rocawear and a Hard Place

Hip-Hop Icons Hope to Broaden Their Portfolios With New Fashion Lines

Artful Dodger t-shirt

The "Grave" t-shirt from Jay-Z's Artful Dodger line.

Well the brand-music partnership space is certainly back with a vengeance after a long slow summer. I could turn this writing into a full time job if we carry on at the rate the stories are currently hitting the wires.

In time for the fall fashion season, our favorite group of "enter-preneurs" are out and about, showing off their new ranges.

First up to give us a nice twirl is the King of Branding and Business Opportunities, Jay-Z, who showed off his newly revamped Artful Dodger line at a party hosted by GQ magazine at the Chelsea Art Museum. Hova acquired Artful Dodger with partners Iconix for $15 million in cash last November. Both must be hoping that Jay-Z's legendary marketing skills can propel the Artful Dodger brand to the same capital value as his former clothing label Rocawear, which was acquired by Iconix for $204 million in early 2007.

Lupe Fiasco has announced his own new line, a natty range of t-shirt with fashion label Fruition, based on a re-designed Fila logo. This will fit nicely alongside his range of sunglasses and Fallacy Of Rome clothing line. He just needs a shoe range to finish the wardrobe off!

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Snoop Dog is apparently weaving his Rich and Infamous clothing line and other Snoop products into his reality TV show "Father Hood" and the follow-up to his 2004 movie "Coach Snoop," which, according to, will generate millions of dollars worth of free exposure. Good for you Snoop, I'm glad that these shows are of use to someone.

Finally, Sears has just revealed the new fall ad campaign for the LL Cool J range of clothing featuring the rapper and, by the looks of it, his entire family.

Got to stop writing now whilst I get my kids to model those new Tunnicliffe "Tuna" hoodies that I've been developing this summer ...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's a Brand-New Metallica

Metal Supergroup Embraces New ID and Alternative Marketing Strategies

Redesigned Metallica logo
New Metallica merch

Heavy metal supergroup Metallica, who have had a reputation for heavy-handedness with illegal file sharing, fans posting videos on YouTube and journalists who don't quite play ball, have taken a refreshing new approach to the Metallica brand and marketing strategies around the launch of their much-anticipated ninth studio album, "Death Magnetic."

The album, which sold more than 500,000 copies in its first week (which was a short one due to a Friday release) and hit the No. 1 slot on the British album charts, has been accompanied by several new developments:

First, in good brand-management style, the Metallica ID has been revamped with a new logo, a "signature" typographic style and a brand kit that incorporates logos, imagery and graphics, as well as promotional items including a flag, a coffin-shaped special edition album and a vinyl boxed set. Perhaps more surprising is that the band brought in Cannes-award-winning design firm Turner Duckworth, which traditionally works for consumer brands including Coca-Cola, Palm, Amazon and South African Breweries.

The band has also pushed out quite a few new marketing initiatives. For fan-club members (of which I am now one!), anyone ordering tickets for Metallica's live shows will receive an "e-voucher" they can redeem to have the new CD mailed directly to their home for no charge. They'll also receive more "e-vouchers" to download, again free of charge, a video recording of the live show they are going to see. All of this and more, including the ability to order set lists, ticket stubs and recordings of other live shows, is available from

As any good marketer will tell you, evolving the look and feel of a brand and offering your consumers the chance to interact with it in new and compelling ways helps keep it fresh and increases "brand stickiness" or, in rock n' roll terms, it keeps your fans stuck to your side.

Hip-Hop's Shorthand Branding

How Luxury Brands Learn About Themselves Through Song Lyrics

This week's Billboard celebrates the 50th anniversary of its legendary Hot 100 Chart, so if you want to know who's had the most number 1s, who's spent the most time on the charts, what the all-time top rock song was (you'd be surprised!) and you generally geek out for lists, check it out.

What also caught my eye, following our recent post about Chris Brown being paid by Wrigley's to write their product into his songs, was an article in the same issue that highlighted which brands and products were most frequently name-checked in hip-hop lyrics from 2003 to 2005. The original compiler of the report, Lucian James of Luxury Goods Consultancy Agenda, neatly summarizes why hip-hop and luxury brands fit so well together:

"The thing you notice [about] a lot of the main players that always get mentioned -- Hennessy, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac -- is these brands always crop up because they are the best shorthand for success and material wealth," James says. "It's a poetic way to use language. When you say 'Benz' you're not just mentioning a product, you're connecting to a whole set of values and how you see yourself in just four letters."

... "They (key Hip-Hop artists) were wearing / using them and talking about them. It was the first wave of that and now it's kind of matured. Now it's a lot more structured. Luxury brands have learned more about themselves from their relationship with hip-hop in the past four to five years than in the past 10."
As we commented the other week, the hip-hop community has indeed learnt a lot from their early associations and is streets ahead, both commercially and culturally, in understanding the benefits of branding to their own businesses.

Plain White T's Encourage You to Try on Some Blue Jeans

Platinum Sellers Link With Aeropostale Clothing Store

Pop-punk act Plain White T's, who scored a big hit with their iconic song "Hey there Delilah," are teaming up with Aeropostale for an integrated marketing effort centered around the band's new album, "Big Bad World."

During the campaign, Aeropostale will be promoting the CD with window displays, bag stuffers and in-store signage at over 850 stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. When customers purchase the album in-store or online, they'll receive (while supplies last, of course) a free, exclusive Plain White T's T-shirt, and Aeropostale will promote the deal through e-mail blasts and online banner ads on social-networking sites such as MySpace.

Before the album launch Sept. 23, Aeropostale is offering fans a free, exclusive Plain White T's song download, "Love at 10th Sight." Beginning today and ending on the album release, customers who try on a pair of jeans at any retail location will receive this track for free at

Nice tie-in, although it makes me wonder why the Plain White T's don't have their own "signature" plain white T-shirt. Seems like a no-brainer.

Musicians Hop Onto Election Cycle

Democratic Convention Has the Stars, McCain Gets Grief

John McCain
Photo: AP

John McCain wants to be your first dancing president.

With election fever raging, the nation's musicians are showing their colors. Obama heads the race as far as star endorsements go, with the recent Democratic convention featuring a kickoff concert at Denver's Red Rocks Amphitheatre with performances from Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews (with long-time cohort and activist Tim Reynolds) and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles.

There were several "off-convention" performances by acts such as Rage Against the Machine and many smaller acoustic performances from Death Cab for Cutie and others. As one might expect, there was also plenty of schmoozing from the stars, which, according to the NY Times, included Kanye West and other "multiplatinum rappers, indie-rock scenesters, D.J.'s and Jennifer Lopez arriving by the van- and private planeload to perform, rally or schmooze with the political elite."

The final day of the convention saw performances by Jennifer Hudson -- who opened proceedings with the national anthem -- and, who recreated the viral video hit "Yes We Can" live onstage with a full gospel choir. The night was topped off by Stevie Wonder, who performed two songs, including "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours."

Chris Daughtry, the "American Idol" rock singer, played both the Democratic and the Republican conventions with his band, taking a strictly nonpartisan stance. McCain must have been glad that at least one major star wasn't giving him a hard time; the Republican presidential nominee has received a deluge of complaints from artists who have not been happy about the use of their music in his rallies and public appearances, including Chuck Berry, Jackson Browne, Van Halen and, most recently, classic rock outfit Heart. The band has issued a cease-and-desist letter to McCain's camp over the use of the 1977 hit "Barracuda," which was used as running mate Sarah Palin's theme song at the Republican convention last week.

There's probably a lesson or two to learn from Obama on how to effectively bridge the gap between politics and pop culture. The Illinois senator has been embracing music from the get-go with the Barack Obama Music Alliance, and he's brought artists along for the ride by involving them in his events.