Advertising guru Steve Stoute imagines a world where all global corporate juggernauts—if they haven’t already—come to kneel at the feet of hip-hop. It’s the reason he spent three years crafting his recently released how-to guide, The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created A Culture That Rewrote The Rules of The New Economy (Gotham).
The branding genius—famous for padding the bank accounts of megastars like business partner Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Lady Gaga, LeBron James and pretty much the rest of the entertainment world—says it’s high time advertisers peeped the tremendous buying power of the millions of people who consume the culture worldwide, and catered to them, accordingly.
“My ‘aha’ moment came a few years ago when I was traveling with Samsung [for Valentino],” says the former music industry executive, responsible for marrying Beyonce and Tommy Hilfiger for her True Star fragrance; Justin Timberlake and McDonald’s as part of their ‘I’m Loving It’ campaign; and Chris Brown with Wrigley’s gum, among other supremely lucrative deals. “It didn’t matter where I was… Berlin, Seoul, Korea, Tokyo, wherever… hip-hop dominated the landscape. I was even in one of the oldest towns in France, known for its art galleries, artifacts and such; and what did I see in the middle of it? A jewelry store called ‘Bling.’ If that’s not telling I don’t know what is.”
Now, Stoute wants advertisers on the come-up (and those looking to reinvent their brand) to follow his blueprint for reaching this generation of Black, Hispanic, Asian and White consumers, many of whom, he argues, share the same “mental complexion” based on mutual experiences and values. He points to the collective bargaining power and subsequent election of President Barack Obama as proof.
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