The relationship between product placement and song lyrics

January 2, 2018By

In the early days of 1979, Sister Sledge inadvertently kick-started product placement in the song lyrics, with the release of their massive hit single “He’s The Greatest Dancer”. The mention of the “Halston”, “Gucci”, and “Fiorucci” brought the fashion brands into prominence and huge financial rewards. However, it did not happen for a further quarter of a century before artists and brands really started taking advantage of this embedded product placement, and this coincided with the success of a particular genre of music, which was hip hop.

Hip Hop

Sister Sledge and their massive hit single

The Run DMC’s video “My Adidas” not only contained the lyrics about “Adidas”, but also the brand was featured in the video. The group was not actually commissioned to feature the company, but they made a major statement by dressing in “Adidas” shoes and leisure wear encouraging their fans to do so. It appeared to be a massive relationship between the hip hop music and product placement which is embedded in the lyrics. The consumption of luxury items has always been the major part of the hip hop culture. It glorifies those who are raised in lower-class city areas, the ability to earn money, purchase and wear luxury items.

Ciara’s first hit “Goodies” featuring Petey Pablo includes the lyrics “Just because you drive a Benz”, which is another good example of using a brand in the lyrics, but she was not commissioned to do it. The video “1-2 Step”, her second single, included product placement. The “Lynx” body deodorant “Axe” was obviously shown. Ciara’s attitude towards product placement is interesting. In an early interview for the Guardian, whilst admitting to accepting money from sponsors, she maintained she would not use brands in her lyrics unless it made sense.

Jamie Cullum used lyrics to voice his views on product placement

In 2005, Curtis Jackson, who was more commonly known as 50 Cent, mentioned 20 different brands in 7 songs. However, it appeared that in the long run this did not do him anything good, as he filed for bankruptcy owing 25 million dollars in 2016. Kayne West is an artist who uses brand names in his songs and music videos. In the 2016 video “Wolves”, he is clearly promoting the “Balmain” clothing, which clearly reflects the singer’s life style, so it does not look out of place.

At the same time, the song lyrics give the opportunity to those who do not support product placement to express their opinions on the subject. In Jamie Cullum’s song “I Want To Be A Pop Star”, he criticises the role that product placement has played in music, “I’ll advertise some trainers, maybe even a car, product placement will guarantee I’m a star”. This just shows that not every musician is happy about the new trend of marketing, and some will reveal their thoughts in their music.

Using lyrics to promote placement is continuing to grow in the music industry. This will continue as long as the brands support the artists with financial backing.

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