I’ve recently started reading the book “The Tanning of America” by Steve Stoute. I’d heard great things about it, and seeing that it’s about advertising and hip hop, I knew it’d be right up my alley.
I’m not done with the book yet, but am already loving what I’m reading, it’s in line with a lot of my beliefs. The main emphasis of the book is how hip hop changed the rules of the new economy, creating a new way of defining “cool” and how brands can gain credibility.
I could describe it in detail, but don’t want to ruin it for anyone who wants to read it, so I’ll stick to one main thing I’ve gathered so far, and that is the art of selling aspiration.
Hip Hop embodies aspiration. It tells story after story of people who came from nothing and now live prosperous lives. It’s a re-imagination of the American Dream. Stoute describes how brands benefit from this since hip hop artists (and therefore trend setters) buy name brands as proof of their ascension into super stardom, and their fans follow.
Adidas, Air Force Ones, Versace, Bling Bling, etc. are all things that have become “Ghetto Fabulous”. This was not accomplished solely on the quality of the products, but on the status that is brought about from owning them. It’s a “Look at me now, I’m gettin’ paper” mentality (yes, CB reference).
And this isn’t something that’s slowing down. A$AP Rocky has been rapping about Escada, Balenciaga, Helmut Lang and Jean Paul Gaultier. The first time I heard those names i had no idea what the hell he was talking about, and it’s designer brands! I couldn’t tell you what the fashion style of any of those brands is, but you know damn well if i ever owned some I’d show it off and call myself ASAP goose.
From a marketing standpoint, this is the perfect atmosphere with which to drive sales. It’s one thing to provide good products that work, but it’s a whole other thing for your product to become something consumers compete for and strive to own. It creates brand loyalty before the consumer even actually owns your product.
A lot of brands are enjoying the benefits of this new pattern, but few are actually taking advantage of it. More-so, few are taking advantage of the mentality that is driving this change.
The world is ours now. Or at least, it’s ours for the taking. Greatness is not easy to achieve (if it was easy, who the hell would want it?) but it’s more attainable than ever. If you want it, and are willing to work for it, you can get it. I believe it because I’ve seen what my own father has accomplished, growing up in Mexico, dirt poor, with not even a bathroom to piss in (they had an outhouse for a family of 6) to living and staying in the US and putting all 3 of his children through college. If he could do that, with all the obstacles and limitations of his day, then what excuse does anyone anywhere have to not accomplish greatness?
The mindset is there, the desire is there, who’s gonna sell me something that will embody what I feel?