the art of commerce: singing the praises of the big mac

I was going to write a long and complicated introduction to this clip, but it’s not necessary… We all know about paid product placement as it exists in film and television, and I’m sure that it will come as a surprise to no one that the now almost thoroughly co-opted rap music industry would spawn slick corporate entities to facilitate similar financial arrangements between rappers and product marketing departments… Here’s a clip from the Washington Post:

(Tony) Rome hooks up rap stars, R&B singers and urban comedians with major corporations that want to reach their fans. The ideal relationship, says Rome, who founded Maven Strategies in 1996, would have an artist write a brand name into a song, feature the brand in a music video and partner with the brand in other promotions, getting paid by the brand’s owner along the way…..

Maven’s prices vary depending on the branding a company is after, but Rome made news last Spring when Advertising Age, the ad world’s publication-to-read, splashed a story across its Web site about a deal Maven stuck with McDonald’s. According to the story, McDonald’s confirmed that if rappers would include “Big Mac” in their lyrics, the fast food giant would pay them between $1 and $5 each time their song was played on the radio. Rome won’t discuss the deal with McDonald’s in further detail and guards his client list closely.

One wonders what kinds of shoes the guys in Run-DMC would have sung about if money were part of the equation. Surely, Adidas wouldn’t have ponied up more than Nike.

And you know for damned sure that Elvis wouldn’t have wasted his time peddling generic, blue suede shoes.

As for McDonald’s, I wonder if they’d pay up if someone rhymed “Big Mac” with “I ate there till my heart attack,” “minimum wage trap,” “mad cow crack,” or “it’s all connected to Iraq.”

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4 Comments

  1. chris
    Posted September 1, 2005 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Its always good to have alternative careers lined up when you have a family to support. But seriously, those were some pretty good lyrics. I bet they get ripped-copyright now!

    Again, it is more palatable in popular music song then in lame attempts of product use on shows like “Six Feet Under”.

  2. Teddy Glass
    Posted September 1, 2005 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I’m not aware of product placement on “Six Feet Under.” What’s up?

  3. chris
    Posted September 1, 2005 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Oh yeah, it was so blatant that I think it was definately product placement and they were being hyperironic about it. I think it was last season. First, Rico’s wife answers the phone and says, “hold on a sec” while grabbing a box of Colgate/Crest (?-ha they didn’t get me) teeth whitening strips and applies one mid phone conversation. I can’t remember the second one but it was again the same episode and blatantly placed. I think it mayhave been soda or laundry detergent.

    I’ll google it.

  4. mark
    Posted September 1, 2005 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I think it was for a brand of embalming fluid.

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