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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Sharon Fink takes note of the flood of brand names within this year’s Billboard Top 20 tunes:

The song with the most brands mentioned is Twista’s Overnight Celebrity. The rapper squeezed in nine: fellow rapper Nelly’s Apple Bottom Jeans; clothing companies and designers BCBG, Bebe, Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Roberto Cavalli; shoemaker Jimmy Choo; MTV; and Range Rover.

Fink reasons that the lack of public distaste for all this name-dropping is the lack of payment for most of these musical mentions. I question that: Two years ago, Island Def Jam was the first major label to declare itself open for business in the lyrical product-placement game, and I’m sure the rest of the industry followed, publicly or not. I’d bet that the majority of those brand names were, in fact, paid for.

Aside from that, even if it was generally known (or even suspected) that the lyrics were “bought”, most of the audience wouldn’t care. Song placement is probably an ideal form of ad immersion: Unlike other mediums, it’s almost harder to make brand names seem grafted onto musical rhymes. Also, the long history of the advertising jingle set a precedent; it’s not so unusual to consider ad pitches as purely musical pieces — and infectious ones, at that.

It’s not mentioned directly, but rap songs are the primary territory for all this ad insertion. There are a couple of reasons for this:

One, most rap songs are first-person narratives, so personalized that they better lend themselves to endorsement-type ad pitches. Two, rappers tend to not invest their songs with a sort of sanctity that would make in-lyric advertising a transgression; indeed, the rap world sees no shame in collecting supplemental cash and merchandise through rhyme-droppin’.

By contrast, I doubt there’s very much brand placement in other musical genres. In fact, it probably would be looked down upon. It’s a double standard — Britney Spears or U2 aren’t supposed to sell their precious songs (unless they’ve been clearly reworked as commercial jingles), but it’s acceptable for Jay-Z and Ludacris to do so.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 08/24/2004 03:58:56 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture | Permalink |


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  1. “And now I gotta give a shout-out to Seagram’s Gin/’Cause I drink it, and they paid me.”

    - Unceremoniously spit between verses by Petey Pablo in “Freakaleek”

    Comment by r* — 08/25/2004 @ 10:01:25 AM

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