We’ve made a few lists about celebrity endorsements in recent weeks, including five partnerships going strong, and five we’d love to see.
Rapper Jay-Z gets a list all to himself.
While pop diva Beyonce might have been the one making recent headlines for her endorsement deal with PepsiCo (PEP), her hubby Hova has pushed and put cold, hard cash behind his fair share of products over the years.
From owning shares in the Brooklyn Nets to backing a Brooklyn-based beauty line called Carol’s Daughter, Jay-Z isn’t afraid to tiptoe from the rap world to the business one. He also isn’t afraid to use his swag and popularity to make you buy a product he isn’t necessarily investing in.
No wonder the power lovebird — named the highest-earning couple in entertainment by Forbes last year — combines to be worth more than a billion buckaroos.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five popular brands Jay-Z has endorsed over the years.
Early in June, rumors began circling that Jay-Z was about to ink a $20 million deal with Samsung (SSNLF) — the electronics maker gunning after rival Apple (AAPL).
Then things died down a bit … for a few weeks.
Finally, news broke that Jay-Z was indeed teaming up with the company — to release his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. The deal: Samsung would give away 1 million copies of the new album to subscribers three days early through a mobile app.
But the stunt didn’t go as planned. Apparently the album wouldn’t download, and fans’ repeated attempts at getting his latest tracks eventually crashed the app. That’s a downer for Samsung, as it paid $5 for each album and hardly got the good press it expected.
But while Jay-Z was quick to express his disappointment in the app’s functionality, he took it with a grain of salt.
“Anytime you do something different — and you should always try to push forward in whatever you’re doing — it’s going to be a problem,” the rapper told MTV.
Jay-Z — along with pop superstar Rihanna, who’s on Jay-Z label Def Jam Records — also is pushing some of the “good stuff.” The superstars recently became a part of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (BUD) Budweiser Made For Music global campaign, and their first two musical ads launched in 85 countries this week.
As Ricardo Marques, Budweiser’s global advertising director, explained:
“Budweiser Made for Music is a tribute to those who continue to put their energy and passion every day in the pursuit of their dreams. Jay-Z and Rihanna represent these values and are therefore an incredible source of inspiration to us all.”
The campaign also will include digital content and sponsorship. For example, Budweiser also sponsors the Made In America Festival that Jay-Z started last year. According to Vibe, “The campaign was inspired by the Made In America music festival” but “will maintain a separate identity.”
On a side note, the Budweiser festival is making its way to Philly this year, featuring an unsurprising headliner: Beyonce.
BUD didn’t mark the first time Jay-Z has been thirsty for a beverage promotion. Back in 2007, he also helped PepsiCo’s rival push a new product. Jay was in charge of a pile of marketing efforts when behemoth Coca-Cola (KO) relaunched Cherry Coke.
The rapper designed the new can and the marketing campaign, including the TV commercials — one of which, of course, features Jay-Z’s music.
The campaign went public on Valentine’s Day, with the commercial debuting during a new episode of American Idol.
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.
Remember those Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) commercials that had celebrities — from the neck down — demonstrating how they used their personal HP notebooks?
Sure, those ads debuted back in 2006, but I still remember them. They were pretty awesome — even if the product itself really wasn’t. Jay-Z’s clip was one of the best, with the rapper sporting a pinstripe suit and telling consumers “My passport says Shawn, but you may know me by another name” as the words “Jay-Z: CEO of Hip-Hop” came on the screen.
According to The New York Observer, you can thank Steve Stoute, the CEO of the brand-marketing firm Translation for the partnership. He “paired Allen Iverson with the gritty rapper Jadakiss for a beloved Reebok commercial, got Justin Timberlake to record a McDonald’s jingle, and tapped Jay-Z for a Hewlett-Packard campaign.”