While nowadays a Jay-Z sponsorship of sneakers seems like a pretty obvious fit, the rapper actually was the first non-athlete to score a shoe endorsement deal when he signed with Reebok a decade ago.
Back in 2003, Jay released “The S. Carter Collection by Rbk” — a partnership that came “at a time when hip-hop was rapidly gaining mainstream cultural acceptance,” as ABC News put it.
As Todd Krinsky, VP of Reebok Classic and Basketball, expressed a similar sentiment earlier this year, saying:
“We really wanted to become bigger in the youth market and we realized young kids were looking at artists and rappers for their style more than basketball players. It had to be someone that moves culture, not someone that just moves records. Jay is the guy that could put a line in a song and everyone changes how they dress.”
The success of the line was good for other rappers too, as it led to additional endorsement deals with hip-hop stars like Pharrell and 50 Cent … although the sneaker-maker’s deal with Rick Ross didn’t end so well.