Archive for August, 2013

Jay-Z, Samsung and the Art of Commerce

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It used to be that there was no greater crime for an artist than to associate with a brand. It used to be called “selling out.”

But recently that’s changed. Now the high visibility of musicians in popular culture have mixed art and the cult of luxury. Hip-hop, that uniquely American sound of poetry and upward mobility, is a great example of this cultural phenomenon. And if any artist’s career mirrors the co-mingling of music and money, it’s Jay-Z, the artist formerly of the Marcy Projects and now of the 1.2 million Samsung Galaxy app downloads.

In a deal rumored at around $20 million, Samsung bought a million digital copies of Jay-Z’s latest album Magna Carta Holy Grail and made it available five days early to Samsung Galaxy owners through a unique app. Though there have been complaints from various news outlets, including the New York Times, that the app is a front for an elaborate data-mining operation for Samsung, the move earned Jay-Z a million-plus-selling album with less than three weeks of marketing behind it. In an era of intense struggling for record companies, the Samsung/Jay-Z alliance stands out as an unequivocal success.

Surprisingly, what has not been a major topic of discussion is the association with Samsung. And this is mainly to do with the power balance that has shifted in favor of musical artists in the past 40 years. Through the Internet, musical artists have been able to find their audiences without the extensive web of middlemen, resources and contracts that come with recording companies, allowing them a direct line of access to their fans and larger profit margins. This is common for both small and large artists now – Jay-Z left Roc-A-Fella, the label he started under Def Jam, years ago when it became too constricting. He now operates without a traditional label, and is able to pick and choose the partnerships that will give him the most creative freedom while remaining extremely lucrative. Major corporations, such as Samsung or Live Nation (another entertainment conglomerate that holds a multimillion-dollar contract with Jay-Z), are willing to invest in an artist that has a big following, all in the hope of a big payoff.

For smaller brands and artists, the main benefit is an increase in brand equity. An example is the partnership between fashion label Saint Laurent (formerly Yves Saint Laurent) and Zachary Cole Smith, the frontman of the band DIIV (pronounced “dive”). The luxury fashion house is luxury but in need of a fresh update, as evidenced by its new creative director, the young and arty Hedi Slimane. Slimane’s selection of Smith, whose shoe-gaze revivalist band’s debut album has sold barely 50,000 copies, is a clear indicator of the future of the brand: young, fresh, art-rock. By partnering, Saint Laurents gets endorsement from a highly respected niche artist, and Smith gets exposure and elevation from a top French fashion label.

So it looks like these kinds of unconventional partnerships are anything but – rather than unconventional they are becoming the norm. Very few artists will elect to go it alone, since there’s no such thing anymore of “selling out.”

Written by: Caitlin Buggy

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No Friendlies. Just Football (and Guinness Black Lager!).

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Guinness Black Lager Photo Credit: Marc Serota

If you felt there was more football on TV this summer than normal (the European kind, not the ‘Merica kind) and that some of your favorite sports stadiums were housing teams with names that didn’t sound like they were in the NFC or AFC, you certainly were onto something. This summer kicked off the first ever Guinness International Champions Cup; an 8-team tournament pitting some of the world’s best and most prestigious football clubs against each other in a series of elimination matches. The tournament began July 31st at AT&T Park in San Francisco and traversed the U.S. for over a week, ending with the finals at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on August 7th.

As the title sponsor, Guinness had the opportunity to sample Guinness Black Lager at all the tournament locations. MKTG INC set up stations in each stadium’s highest traffic areas, sampling Guinness Black Lager and giving away ICC commemorative cups to hordes of fans (21 and over). With sampling teams that topped 30 in some cities, Guinness Black Lager made quite the splash, leaving consumers pleasantly surprised by the rich and satisfying taste from the lager’s roasted barley. Fans were also surrounded by concession stands selling Guinness Black Lager, most of which reported record sales on game day.

The tournament concluded with Real Madrid topping Chelsea 3-1 in a thrilling final featuring two goals by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, earning him Man of the Tournament honors. Over 20,000 consumers sampled Guinness Black Lager across seven days, marking an immense step for Guinness Black Lager and for football fans throughout the U.S. Some might even say it was a GOOOOOOAAALLL!

Written by: Charlie DeCrescenzo

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Enter: Nike Montauk Project

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971019_10151710611812976_1036652111_nPhoto Credit: Nike Montauk Project Facebook Page

Getting bored in the dog days of summer? Let Nike take you away to the Hamptons for the weekend.  Ok, ok…there is just one catch.

Yes, Nike will whisk 14 running enthusiasts to the Hamptons each weekend in August (until August 18th) for a three-day intense fitness and wellness boot camp aka Montauk Project. The mission is simple: Get Moving. Get Faster. Get Stronger. While Nike is the forerunner in future footwear technology, this experience is not affiliated with time travel nor the infamous Project Montauk.

How do you get an invite? Strap on some sneakers, Nike Free FlyKnits preferably, and join Nike Run Club for your chance to enter Montauk Project.  To qualify for entry, participate in any of the Get Fly program events with at least 3,000 NikeFuel. The experience includes runs on the beach, paddle boarding, massages, lifestyle and nutrition pointers, exclusive workouts with celebrity trainers and plenty of Nike gear! Can it get any better than that? Nope.

Stay tuned for the next Nike Running experience and click here for more information on Montauk Project.

Written by: Raegan Morgan

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August 13th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Nike Lacrosse presents:

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Photo Credit: John Petrina

With the fastest growing sport in America (unless you count pickleball, in which case you must be 65+ years old) continuing to take hold of the nation’s youth, lacrosse was screaming for a truly premium experience that would unite the nation’s best together in one place.

Enter THE RIDE.  A term that has its place as an essential force of disruption within the lax vernacular (expand your knowledge people), while also serving as a nod to an epic journey that was about to begin courtesy of Nike Lacrosse.

With a 3-day VIP-style experience at NIKE World Headquarters in Beaverton, OR, The Ride provided elite laxbrahs and girls with a journey unlike any the game has seen before.  Leveraging the standard set forth by Nike Football’s ‘The Opening’, 100 of the top HS lax athletes were invited out for an experience centered around the New Lacrosse; Nike’s goal to re-define the game via training (SPARQ) and speed via the Fast or Last mantra.

In addition to elite training and spending time in a player’s lounge (dubbed ‘The Crease’) designed and built by MKTG INC with the lax athlete in mind, participants also rubbed elbows with some of the elite athletes in the game, including Max Seibald, Jeremy Thompson, Kara Cannizzaro, Michele Tumolu and Kyle Harrison.  ESPN analysts Quint Kessenich and Courtney Connor served as Emcees for the week, taking players along for a Ride that raised the bar for the future of the game and its next wave of stars.

For more info check out Nike Lacrosse on Facebook and Quint Kessenich’s first-hand account of the event.

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August 2nd, 2013 at 12:28 pm