Weekly Wednesday Standout #26: Magna Branding Holy Grail

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The Miami Heat ripped at the end of the second quarter on Sunday in game 5 of the NBA Finals vs. the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat, once down as much as 15, cut the lead down to 7 before Tony Parker hit a buzzer beating lay in. As the game faded into a commercial break, this advertising appeared to announce the release of Jay-Z’s new album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail”:

“We don’t have any rules…that’s why the internet is like a wild west…We need to write the new rules…”

Samsung reportedly bought a million copies of the album to pre-release on Samsung smart phones on July 4th, 72 hours before the album’s official release date. This represents an outside of the box thinking from both brands. With Jay-Z and Lebron James, Samsung has two of the biggest names in sports and entertainment as brand ambassadors. Their marketing philosophy seems simple – get the biggest superstars to endorse their phone products. Samsung’s flagship phone, the Galaxy S4, is seen as the biggest challenger to the iPhone 5’s market hegemony.

The Galaxy S4’s marketing is also in direct contrast to the iPhone 5. There are no “superstars” endorsing the Apple phone. Instead, the iPhone 5’s commercials focus more on the experiential and community. The iPhone 5 aspirational branding is about how the phone’s features enhances a user’s experiences. Samsung’s Jay-Z commercial is aspiring for greatness.

“The album is about this duality, of how do you navigate your way through this whole thing, through success, through failures, through all this and remain yourself.”

Two ideas we covered last week in Kevin Durant move to Roc Nation appear in this Samsung move. First is brand association. “Magna Carta Holy Grail” pre-releases to Samsung users on July 4th. This is an automatic association with Independence Day and everything that comes with it: the sun, the BBQ’s, the fireworks. Even though the album will release three days later, it will be a must play for BBQ’s and loud social gatherings on that day. This falls in line with Jay-Z’s tradition of releasing albums over the summer.

Secondly, we discussed how his moves outside of hip hop are what that catapulted him into a pop culture icon. The reactions on Twitter cemented this. The commercial was a three minute long brand advertisement during a pivotal NBA Finals game. The magnitude of the moment speaks for itself.

This move also captures a larger trend of musicians going outside of the box for sales. From Target to Samsung, corporations outside of music are having a bigger influence on not only album releases but supporting artists financially. Musicians are compensated, companies look cool – again, branding by association.

This Jay-Z commercial appeared two days after the leak of Kanye West’s much anticipated album “Yeezus”. Both artists understand the album release as an event. They are arguably the two biggest hip hop stars, both transcending pop culture. How does one remain themselves through it all, as Jay-Z asks in this commercial? Perhaps it’s by associating themselves with other brands with similar ambitions.

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