From Old Navy to McDonald’s to Coca-Cola, more companies are making hip-hop-influenced commercials to appeal to young audiences.
While some students accept the marketing strategies, the trend is offensive to others who said advertising companies are exploiting black culture.
Ebony Fitzpatrick said she has noticed how blacks are portrayed in commercials.
“Blacks are definitely being exploited by big corporations,” said the 20-year-old political science student from Louisville, Ky.
However, Fitzpatrick admitted incorporating hip-hop into TV commercials is very effective and popular.
“Commercials that have a beat to it are more likely to catch my attention than those without a beat or a hook,” she said.
On the other hand, Eugene Brewington, an Orlando native, said blacks are not being exploited.
“TV commercials with hip-hop artists in them enrich our culture,” said the 21- year- old senior marketing student and co-owner of a small clothing line.
Hip-hop artists such as Lil’ Kim and Busta Rhymes have been seen in mainstream commercials, sometimes rapping and other times just showing their face.
Sibeko Jywanza, a 21-year-old marketing student, said TV commercials are flooded with rap artists.
The Indianapolis native said commercial producers are using famous faces for additional marketing.
“Corporations try to put a celebrity in a commercial to persuade consumers into using their products, and the marketing strategy seemed accurate at first, but now it’s getting old and out of hand,” Jywanza said.
Richard Brand, FAMU professor of advertising and marketing said the increasing portrayal of black people and the use of hip-hop celebrities in TV commercials stems from competition and a lack of originality.
“If one strategy works for one company, then competitors want to copy that strategy and elevate it,” Brand said.
According to Brand, corporations want viewers to identify with their favorite celebrities to influence consumerism.
Brewington said corporations have not figured out how to market products effectively to black people.
“The whiter a business corporation is, the more the business feels like hip-hop is the only way to reach urban consumers,” he said.
Brand said uncertainty is the blame for many corporations using hip-hop in TV commercials.
Some attribute the growing trend to widening cultural and age gaps.
Brand said the targeted demography in commercials are people between the ages of 20-30 years old, and the marketing strategies are created by executives over 50 years old.
With hip-hop gaining recognition in some of the top awards ceremonies, many think that it is taking over the advertising industry and that the trend is only beginning.
“Hip-hop has proven that it’s here to stay,” Brand said. “Corporations are starting to realize that now.”
Whether or not blacks are being exploited is left up to individual opinions.
But for advertising companies, putting chicken nuggets to a beat has proven to be gold.
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