Hip-hop stars give products street cred
By KORTNEY STRINGER (I like that name...LOL!)
These days, advertisers are giving entertainers lots to rap about, from Cadillac and Cristal to Mercedes and Moet.
Hip-hopper Ludacris declared, "It's the knick-knack-patty-whack still riding Cadillacs" in Get Back.
Singer Mariah Carey's It's Like That dance tune proclaimed, "I came to have a party open off the Bacardi."
And in Trina's song featuring Kelly Rowland there's a reference to "poppin' all that Cris" Champagne.
In all, top music artists gave more than 1,000 shout-outs to some of the world's largest and most recognizable brand names in 2005, according to the Brandstand study by San Francisco-based pop-culture strategy firm Agenda Inc. The list, available on www.agendainc.com/brand.html
, has for the past three years tracked the number of times brands are mentioned in the lyrics of songs on Billboard's Top 20 list.
Brandstand has become a popular — albeit non-scientific — way of measuring which brands and products have street cred with the urban market during a time when companies increasingly are seeking ways to capture the attention of consumers who've grown savvy about recognizing paid product placements. Companies don't typically pay the artists for product references in songs.
"It really is a measure of the brands that are important in pop culture," said Lucian James, Agenda's president. "These are the brands that have for whatever reason created relevance that really resonates in pop culture. It's the brands people are using to define themselves right now."
Brands that made Brandstand's Top 10 were DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz, Nike, General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac and Chevrolet brands, Volkswagen's Bentley, BMW's Rolls Royce, Hennessy cognac, Louis Vuitton fashions, Cristal Champagne and AK-47 rifles.
Autos have been the most commonly name-dropped brands. No. 1 Mercedes-Benz has ranked among Brandstand's Top 3 each year, getting 100 mentions this year — 37% more than No. 2 Nike.
"It speaks to Mercedes-Benz being a part of popular culture," said Geoff Day, a Mercedes-Benz spokesman, adding that the brand doesn't actively pursue such mentions, saying that would be "self-defeating, especially in hip-hop, it needs to be authentic and relevant." •