— ADVERTUNES

I caught this Samsung commercial while watching the Western Conference Finals last night and it hit me hard enough to get me to write a new post! The commercial, done by 72andSunny, features the instrumental to “Think Differently” (produced by Bronze Nazareth) from Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture, one of my favorite albums of all time:

This song was originally released in 2005, and featured verses from Casual, Tragedy Khadafi, Roc Marciano and Vordul Mega. Hear the entire version here.

Some of the subject matter on the original version is not what you would expect Samsung to want to be associated with. Granted, they only used the instrumental, but I for one couldn’t help but hear Roc Marciano spitting “squeeze 380 triggers / used to fuck my babysitters / now I whip mercedes benzes” while watching the spot. I guess most people who already knew the lyrics would kind of be guaranteed to not be offended, so really not too risky when you think about it.

The best part of this commercial though, is the subliminal shots that Samsung is throwing at Apple by using this song–the original cover to the album, and the logo for Think Differently Music, is an apple logo in the shape of a Wu “W.” Add to that the fact that the song represents “Think Differently” in a commercial directly challenging consumers to rethink what they know about smartphones, and I think it’s too much to be considered coincidental. Well played, Samsung.

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I was watching the BCS National Championship game tonight and saw a new Dr. Pepper commercial featuring the voice, but not the music, of Macklemore. The ad, produced by Deutsch, is part of Dr. Pepper’s “one of a kind” concept:

The ad first caught my attention because I am kind of obsessed with commercial voiceover actors and trying to identify them. It didn’t take more than a couple of seconds for me to pin this one as Macklemore, but I was waiting to see if he would be featured more prominently in the commercial. He does make a brief appearance on screen at 0:24, but if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss it. I think it’s an interesting approach. I like it a lot from Macklemore’s perspective–for an artist that is at risk of becoming over-saturated in the market, this is a way for him to capitalize on his success without becoming a joke. I also think it’s cool how you can really hear his flow on his voiceover, even though he isn’t rapping. But not everyone will recognize that.

On the other hand, from Dr. Pepper’s perspective, I would think I might want to get a little more bang for my buck if I was going to pay Macklemore to endorse my product, but maybe this is just a more subtle strategy, which I can respect. It looks like they also got him for some additional ads too, at least one of which features him much more prominently. I think overall though, Macklemore got the better end of this deal. For whatever it’s worth, after watching it on TV I spent five minutes googling “Macklemore Pepsi Commercial” before I realized it was for Dr. Pepper.

In case you were wondering, the song in the commercial is “Midnight Voyage” by Ghostland Observatory.

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The new trailer for Ben Affleck’s new movie Runner Runner was released recently, and I found the soundtrack interesting. In fact it made me laugh out loud:

If you went to high school in the early 2000′s like I did, then I’m betting it didn’t take you long to recognize the familiar sounds of J-Kwon’s “Tipsy” playing in the background. I feel like whoever did the music is trying to justify the choice of song by using the counting refrains to mirror the money counting shots and the “better run” line to mirror the title, but I’m not really buying it. It’s a flat out weird choice for this movie. But at the same time, it’s damn catchy, so why not? I’m just going to put this out there, but I believe that this song wouldn’t have made this trailer if it wasn’t for Kanye’s comment to the New York Times earlier this summer. If you missed it, in a rare interview that he did prior to the release of Yeezus, Kanye basically called “Tipsy” the best song ever, in all seriousness. A comment like that from someone like Kanye can really resurrect a forgotten song and give it new life, and I think we are witnessing an example of just that.

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If you haven’t yet seen Fruitvale Station you should definitely try to go see it, but be forewarned, it is heart wrenching. I thought it was a very good movie and it’s really exciting to me that the director, Ryan Coogler, and star, Michael B. Jordan, are only 27 and 26 years old. Lots more to come from these two I would expect. But what I wanted to focus on some of the promo that has been done for the film and one trailer in particular, featuring Fabolous’s 2004 hit “Breathe”:

The film was produced as an independent, and after it debuted at Sundance, the distribution rights were purchased by the Weinstein Company. As a result, the promotion that has been done it appears was conducted by the Weinstein Company. So I am operating on the assumption that this trailer was at least significantly influenced by some people at the Weinstein Company. Let me first say that I think it is a quality trailer and seeing it on TV absolutely contributed to my decision to go see the movie. But after re-watching the trailer I realized that basically all the quotes are attributed to music industry figures–Questlove, Russell Simmons, John Legend, DJ Clue, DJ Pharris, and they threw Chris Rock and somebody named Asari X (possibly Jasiri X?) in there too.

That was curious to me because I would not consider it a hip-hop movie at all. There is some good bay-area music in the film (The Jacka has a few songs in there), but it really just comes across as part of the scenery. It makes me think that it was a marketing decision made by Weinstein to try to market to a hip-hop demographic. I think that was a weird move because the movie is so much bigger than that, but at least it’s not done in an in-your face way. In fact, as I said, I didn’t even realize it until the second and third time I saw the trailer. All in all, a great movie, a solid trailer, and a nice throw-back song for Fabolous that actually fits in perfectly.

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Just as “No Church in the Wild” is ending its cycle as the go-to darkish hip-hop song for licensing, Kanye appears to have a successor in line. Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” from his forthcoming album Yeezus is featured in the brand new trailer for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. See the full trailer in all it’s nineties-money glory below.

I can’t help but point out that it’s pretty ironic that a black-power anthem called “Black Skinhead” was used for this trailer since it’s pretty much the whitest trailer I’ve ever seen. Also, when Kanye performed this song on SNL, he had a screen behind him that said “NOT FOR SALE.” So I don’t know what it says that he sold the song to a movie that really doesn’t share much in common with his current message. But I’ve never really thought that projecting a unified and coherent message was Kanye’s strong suit so what’s new I guess.

Follow Fletcher on Twitter @advertunesblog.

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Tonight during game 5 of the NBA finals, Samsung officially unveiled a new partnership with Jay-Z through a 3 minute commercial, that was really more of a behind the scenes album teaser for Jay-Z’s new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, due to be released July 4th. In the commercial, Jay-Z is shown in the studio with Rick Rubin, Pharrell, Timbaland and Swizz Beats, auditioning beats and talking about his creative process and the strategy for the album. Watch the full clip below.

The partnership between Jay-Z and Samsung has been rumored to be worth $20 Million (but what does that really mean anyway?) What we do know is that Samsung has already purchased 1 Million copies of Jay’s new album that they will be offering exclusively to Samsung device owners for free. Samsung reportedly paid $5 per album, meaning Jay-Z already has $5 Mil in sales before he has even released the album.

In a contrast to the last several posts here on Advertunes, where artists are lending their music and persona to a campaign and tagging along for the publicity, this is very much a case of Samsung tagging along with Jay-Z and not the other way around. But not many artists are in that kind of position. When you have as much clout as Jay-Z, I think the risk of seeming too commercialized or wedded to a product is so minute because everyone knows Jay is calling the shots and most likely not giving up much in exchange.

Follow Fletcher on Twitter @advertunesblog.

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Myspace, which you have probably heard has been re-launched as a music/creative centric social network (with Justin Timberlake as a minority owner), debuted a new commercial this week to start getting people interested in the new face of the old company. The commercial is directed by photographer Ryan McGinley and features a large cast of decidedly hip artists rocking out and clowning around for the camera. The song in the commercial, seen below, is The Orwells’ “Mallrats (La La La).”

This commercial really taps into the music-hipster vibe, sort of the “I bet I can name more of the artists than you can” dynamic. (Although the YouTube version takes all the fun out of it by tagging them all with annotations, which is actually a pretty cool idea). This is an interesting commercial from the perspective of the artists featured in the shots, because they have the opportunity to benefit from all the other artists’ fanbases. One type of fan might recognize DIIV or Charli XCX, and another might recognize Hit-Boy or Chance the Rapper, and yet another might recognize Ciara and Pharrell, but hopefully after making the connection with one or two artists that they like, all the viewers will be curious as to who everyone that they didn’t recognize is, and then everybody has the chance to gain new fans. And hopefully, all this discovery takes place on Myspace.

Also, someone on YouTube pointed out that it looks like a GAP commercial, which is totally true haha.

Follow Fletcher on Twitter @advertunesblog.

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Beats by Dre has released a new commercial featuring LeBron James and the music of Imagine Dragons. The release coincided with game one of the NBA finals on Thursday night and is showcasing Beats’ answer to Apple’s ubiquitous headset, made with athletes in mind. Watch the commercial below:

The song featured in the commercial is Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” (Grouplove & Captain Cuts Remix). I wanted to profile this commercial because it is an interesting counterpoint to my last few posts discussing clever ways of organically integrating the band name / endorser into the commercial. In this commercial, they pull no punches and go with an on-screen chyron (the credits in the lower left corner) leaving no doubt who the audience is listening to. The goal for the artist here is the same–gain some publicity to go along with whatever money they are making for the commercial. But while the chyron is probably the most surefire way to achieve this, I don’t think it is always the best long-term option. Personally I think that the chyron can make it seem a bit too “commercial.” I know that might sound silly since we are, after all, talking about COMMERCIALS, but I think there is a line between lending your music to the campaign and becoming wedded to the product. For example, in this case, if you visit the Powerbeats website, “Radioactive” is available for download and is touted as “LeBron’s power track.” I think it creates the impression that the partnership was conceived by profit-oriented bigwigs, rather than creatively-minded people who feel strongly about the product. (Whether either scenario is actually true is beside the point).

Some products don’t care about appearing edgy, or creative or organic, and that’s fine. It all depends on the brand and the strategy. But the ad agency and the brand strategists aren’t going to represent the interests of the artist. If they decide to go with a no-nonsense approach, it is the artist’s representative’s job to make sure that that is the best approach for their own long-term strategy as well.

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Adidas is set to release a new commercial later today for their Crazyquick shoe, and have tapped A$AP Rocky to provide the soundtrack. In the commercial, seen below, A$AP goes Mother Goose over the instrumental to his single “Goldie” while John Wall, Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard show off their moves.

This partnership has just been waiting to happen. Rocky and Jeremy Scott are known to kick it pretty hard and he already wears Adidas and shouts them out in a lot of his songs. When you really think about it, it’s almost counter-intuitive for Adidas to want to pay for something they were already getting for free…but ad agency 180LA decided the gravy train had gone far enough and made the endorsement official by casting Rocky in the commercial. I’m sure Rocky isn’t complaining. He gets to soak up quite a bit of screen time as the focal point of the ad, and his music provides the soundtrack.

Rocky can be seen wearing the Y-3 Paraffin Mix Shirt by Yohji Yamamoto for Adidas, and he sneaks in his own ‘PMF’ snapback, although it is only barely recognizable as he walks away at the end of the commercial. It might sound silly, but if I were representing him I would have pushed to get the hat just a tiny bit more screen time, at least one shot where the entire logo was visible. I think Lebron was really onto something when he pushed to have his own ‘Lion’ logo hat appear in his Samsung commercial and I can tell you from experience, my own site was flooded with hits from people who were curious about where they could get one. The thing is though, that hat wasn’t and still isn’t available for sale–Rocky’s hat is available through his website for $40. Even just a split second more screen time and I bet he would have seen a healthy uptick in sales.

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As an artist endorsing a product, ideally you want to get more out of the deal than just a check. If you can maximize the publicity that comes with the endorsement, generally it is a win-win for all involved. For a superstar artist, this will happen naturally, but for a lesser-known artist appearing in a national ad campaign, sometimes you need the cooperation of the ad agency and the producers of the campaign to be sure that the audience is aware of just who’s music or persona is appearing in the campaign. But, as I have discussed in the past, you don’t want it to come off as though you don’t expect the audience to recognize the endorser on their own because that can defeat the purpose of associating with a “famous” artist.

Brands and agencies are getting more creative in their ways to address this problem. For example, Hyundai’s Superbowl ad featuring The Flaming Lips used a shot of the band’s tour bus with their name and logo painted on the side, or Adidas’ 2 Chainz commercial using a snippet of lyrics in which he says his name. The latest example of a creative way to sneak some identifying information into the commercial comes from Vitamin Water in their “From Boring to Brilliant” commercial featuring B.o.B. performing his song “So Good” on an airplane. Watch the commercial and see if you see what I’m talking about:

In case you missed it, there is a clear shot of one of the passengers at :22 exclaiming “B.o.B!!” to his neighbor. I think this is particularly effective because it actually emphasizes B.o.B’s recognizeability while still hedging for all the people who don’t know who the heck just boarded the plane. All of this still probably goes over a lot of people’s heads, but I think it is a great, organic way to identify the endorser. If I were advising an artist in a similar position, I would press hard to get a concession that a similar tactic would be used to ensure maximum visibility and publicity for my client.

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