8 Corporations That Made a Fortune Leveraging Black Culture
October 31, 2013
| Posted by Jay M.
In the early 1990s popular R&B and rap groups like Another Bad
Creation, Jodeci, and NWA sported flashy, colorful Starter jackets with
matching caps. Shortly thereafter, the demand for Starter jackets soared and so did the price.
In 1989, the Starter Clothing Line
generated $58.9 million in revenue. However, after hip-hop and R&B
artists made the clothing line trendy among their fans, sales doubled in
1990 to $126 million. Starter
immediately noticed the uptick in sales and decided to feature hip-hop
star DJ Jazzy Jeff in an advertising campaign. Within two years,
Starter’s net sales nearly doubled again to $356 million.
Adidas experienced sliding sales in the late 1970s and 1980s that
severely diminished its role in the global sports shoe industry.
However, rap group Run-DMC made the Adidas Superstar sneaker (shell toes) popular in the urban world with their hit track “My Adidas.” Before
the group’s emergence on the scene in 1983, the Adidas Superstar
sneaker was not very popular in the market. Run-DMC’s promotion
instantly boosted sales for the company with 382,000 pairs of Superstars
sold in the same year. It was also reported that $22 million in Adidas
products were sold in one weekend during that time.
In 1986 while the group was performing in New York’s Madison Square Garden Rev. Run told the audience, ‘Put your sneakers in the air!’ They turned the lights up. When he looked out, the entire Garden was holding up one Adidas.
It so happens that an Adidas representative was present at the event
and Run DMC inked a $1 million Adidas endorsement deal mid-concert. The
group’s long-term relationship with the company helped resurrect the
As a Yankees fan, it’s no surprise that native New
Yorker Jay-Z can regularly be seen wearing the team’s baseball cap.
Hip-hop fans may have come to associate the cap with the rap star and he
has made several references to it in his songs, – even boasting that he
has made the cap more popular than the Yankee players have.
Sports apparel-maker New Era most likely attributes the top-selling
baseball cap to the Yankees’ 27 World Series wins. However, the company
executives must have recognized Jay’s
importance to their brand when they announced limited edition
co-branded merchandise for sale at Yankee Stadium, including a custom
all-black Yankees baseball cap, which featured design nods to Jay Z’s Blueprint 3 album and a $50 price tag.
Filmmaker Spike Lee personally requested a red Yankees cap from New
Era, starting both a fashion trend as well as a long-term relationship
with the company. In 1997, Lee directed the company’s first national
television ads. He continues to direct New Era ads and has inspired the
designs of some caps.
At the end of the 198os, Timberland sales topped $156 million, 30 percent of which was solely of its classic yellow boot, popular among urban youth in the northeastern United States.
During the 1990s, sales of the brand took off at the same time U.S.
hip-hop artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Jay Z, DMX and many more
wore the boots and rapped about them regularly.
After the rappers had fully influenced a generation of fans to wear
the work boots, Timberland’s footwear accounted for more than 70 percent
of its sales. By the end of 1992, the company’s sales topped $291 million and at the end of the decade, sales reached $917.2 million.
Clarks shoes’ popularity in the U.S. came
and left in the mid to late ’90s, however, they are still a popular in
Jamaica — thanks to Jamaican Dancehall artist Vybz Kartel. At one time,
you could purchase a pair for $5,000 Jamaican dollars – roughly $60U.S.
But when Kartel released his single “Clarks “ in the summer
2010, stores across Jamaica reported selling out instantly. Though
Clarks have long been a staple in Jamaican fashion, Kartel elevated the
brand to another level. Prices for the shoes doubled on the island and
it would take a whopping $10,000 Jamaican dollars – about $100U.S. – to
get your hands on a pair.
In 2001, rapper Ludacris boasted about the Cadillac brand in his popular Southern Hospitality song and video. In the song’s video, Luda drove a Cadillac Escalade and as the camera focused on the Cadillac emblem he rapped:
“Cadillac grills, Cadillac mills
Check out the oil my Cadillac spills”
In 2002, a year after the Ludacris video, Cadillac reported an
increase in Escalade sales. That year, 19 percent of all Cadillac
Escalade consumers were Black, a huge increase from the year before.
The company was reportedly puzzled by the increase in sales from the
African–American community, but attributed the increase to fans who
wanted to emulate the rappers and athletes who were purchasing them.
“It is OK for rappers and athletes to call us cool, but the moment we
start calling us cool, we are done,” said Susan Docherty, Escalade
brand manager at the time. She conceded, “You can’t buy this kind of
The sales of moscato have been growing
at about 25 percent a year, and the manufacturers of the sweet wine can
thank African-American consumers for that, specifically those who
listen to hip-hop.
Rap star Drake is given most of the credit for moscato’s recent
success. In a song from his 2009 mixtape, Drake rapped the line:”It’s a
celebration — clap, clap bravo. Lobster and shrimp and a glass of moscato.”
While it was rarely mentioned before in popular rap songs, now moscato is name-dropped throughout the genre – just as Cristal, Hypnotiq, and Ciroc have been.
Most recently, the wine was featured prominently in a Waka Flocka song (“I’ma sip moscato, and you gon‘ lose them pants”).
It has even found its way into the world of reality television. For a while, NeNe Leakes of the Real Housewives of Atlanta was pushing her own brand, Miss Moscato.
In March 1985, Air Jordan sneakers hit stores nationwide for $65 a
pair. This was the year Michael Jordan was named Rookie of The Year and
averaged 28.2 points per game. Because of Jordan’s success on the
court, by May, Nike sold $70 million in Air Jordans and by the end of
the year, the franchise had yielded more than $100 million in revenue.
At the time, the profit was record-breaking for Nike.
In 2012, the Jordan brand sold $2.5 billion retail, its best year ever, according to the market retail tracking firm SportsOneSource. Air Jordans make up 58 percent of all basketball shoes bought in the U.S. and 77 percent of all children’s basketball shoes – and most of the kids are too young to have ever seen the basketball star play.
Edited by tatee - Nov 04 2013 at 10:52am