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Hip-Hop and shoe brands a love story

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the impact of Run DMC's classic rap song My Adidas and its impact on branding. Today we will look at a few other songs that have had a huge impact on shoes in particular. We begin with Air Force Ones, by Nelly. I think this may have been one of the biggest songs about shoes since My Adidas. Every kid on the block still rocks 'em.

Here we have a track from a group called The Pack, based out of Oakland, CA. This was a pretty big hit. Not as big as Air Force Ones, but none the less a hit. The funny thing is, Vans have been known mostly for being skater shoes. I wore Vans in the early 80's and one thing was certain...I was just about THE ONLY Black kid rockin' Vans. But it also shows you how over time the line between "Hip-Hop" and "skater culture" became almost one in the same.

Interesting thing about this song is that the video was pretty much BANNED from MTV and many other TV outlets. They saw the song as nothing more than a long advertisement. Which, it was, but who cares? Run DMC and Nelly did the same thing....I'm always amazed at who get the pass for major rotation and video play and who doesn't when songs like these emerge.

Both songs prove once again that when young Black males celebrate the brands they wear, money gets made. Adidas made a Run DMC shoe LONG after they made the company many millions in sales. I don't think Nelly had a contract with Nike when he dropped this. I think I read somewhere that Vans gave The Pack a bunch of shoes, but I don't think they ever had anything major going contractually.

I think it would be wise for rappers who come up with songs about clothes or other brands should run the songs by the company BEFORE they drop it. Might get some upfront loot. Better that than make a brand millions in brand penetration, brand loyalty and free advertising for decades but have little to show for it.

-Beyond Urban Branding


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