For the most part, the artists choose which brands to mention in their lyrics, but on occasion, the lyrics are the result of a promotional connection between the artist and the liquor company. The connection between rap music and alcohol sales is somewhat tenuous, but there are those who believe that rap beats have an impact on consumer behavior. In 2002, Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy released the rap single, “Pass the Courvoisier.” In 2003, the company’s sales shot up by nearly 19%.
According to the study, the most often mentioned brands were Patrón Téquila, Grey Goose Vodka, Hennessey Cognac and Cristal Champagne. The producers say that the music doesn’t constitute advertising because they have not solicited the mention of their products in the song.
In the United States, it’s illegal to target liquor advertising to persons under the age of 21, and the rap beats raise the question of what constitutes advertising. According to the study, listeners are exposed to brand-name “advertising” through rap music on average 34 times per day. The connection between rap music and alcohol is clear, and some artists have stepped in to use rap music as a brand-name promotional tool.
Critics point to Jay-Z’s acquisition of a majority share of Armadale Vodka, and Snoop Dogg’s commercial work for Landy Cognac. It’s not the first time a musician has mentioned alcohol in its songs, but some critics want to make sure that rap music does not become a surreptitious advertising vehicle for liquor advertisements directed toward minors, in much the same way that Joe Camel became a target for the anti-smoking lobby.
The study focused on rap music that landed on the Billboard Magazine’s Top 100 lists between 2005 and 2007. The researchers analyzed the lyrics from 793 songs and found that more than one in five rap songs mentioned alcohol. Of those that did, nearly one-fourth mentioned a specific brand name.
How big is the problem? In actual numbers, about 5% of all of the songs in the study mentioned alcohol by brand name. In terms of sheer numbers, the problem doesn’t appear to be all that significant, but simple numbers don’t account for the popularity of the song, and how much impact a few songs or a few artists can have on consumer behavior.
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