Thursday, October 12, 2006

Raising A Brand

With both Diddy (Sean Combs) and Jay-Z (Sean Carter) prepping for their respective albums set to drop in the last quarter of the year, as established entrepreneurs and hip-hop icons, one has to wonder what is left to prove in this arena.

Diddy has a thriving clothing line ( and saw his group Danity Kane hit #1 on the charts with minimal promotion, no established track record and just that old Diddy drive, but what else is there? He recently announced he will again be a father, this time of twin girls.

Jay took over Def Jam, but still found his way to the booth regularly for guest appearances on tracks in between signing new artists and transitioning from a business man, to a business man. Currently he's on a 2 month international tour while working with the U.N.

What both have in common, besides the same first name is they have truly been able to brand themselves far beyond the hip-hop hustlers they first needed to be early on. The commercial success they both share has not diluted their credibility with most fans however, the early steps they have laid out are now a blueprint for many who wish to follow their path. The need to embrace the streets is still very relevant, but with the loss of a close friend to both of them (Notorious B.I.G. aka Christopher Wallace) and an adversary (Tupac Shakur), the focus soon turned to business and establishing an empire.

Just last week while traveling Carter learned that a single from his upcoming album Kingdom Come had been leaked and immediately released another song. Without a press release, or a single interview Carter did make a statement however, and fans have responded favorably.

Combs announced this week a partnership with Burger King to create a co-branded YouTube channel ( to allow advertisers the opportunity to thread their messages into the emerging technologies that are so quickly changing the media consumption habits of consumers.

While just ten years ago companies were reluctant to associate with entertainers who happen to rap, marketers are now running towards them with open arms and check books. With the ability to drop a product mention into any song and immediately create brand affinity, repeat purchases and credibility, the ROI often is large enough to create a working synergy.

Though both have had run-ins with the all too controversial NYPD, it hasn't diminished the returns and I believe we'll see Sean (Carter & Combs) working to continually define the sphere of business and marketing while calling the shots.

Keep it irregular-

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