Stoute, founder of a brand-imaging firm, offers an entertaining, instructive mix of business memoir, music history, and marketing tutorial. He argues that hip-hop blurred "cultural and demographic lines so permanently that it laid the foundation" for the transformation he calls "tanning," a process that would "alter the landscape of America—racially, socially, politically, and especially economically." He surveys the early development of hip-hop and the arrival of LL Cool J, "the hip-hop celebrity who gave the marketing world an early tutorial about the value of aligning their brand with the genre." Stoute then moves more fully into the world of commerce, where "advertisers were looking to use the hip-hop Midas touch" but had little understanding of "the consumer they were trying to reach." Stoute's entrepreneurship and expertise in rebranding (e.g., Ray-Ban, Reebok, Modell's) makes absorbing reading. For the uninitiated, this is a sold primer on the business of music; for music historians, it's a solid study of how "how urban culture came to influence the mainstream economy." (Sept.)
Thoughtful and relevant. It should be required reading for advertising executives, especially those who count themselves among the Baby Boomer generation.
He’s the conduit between corporate America and rap and the street, and the music industry generally,…he speaks both languages.
Steve is credible in the music and entertainment worlds. Then he can switch gears, walk into the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company and speak his ideas in a way they can understand.
[He’s] the right guy for guiding brands in using the record industry to reach youth culture in a credible way.
This book is well worth the investment.
Stoute advises a revolutionary concept for business leaders: Have a little fun along the way.” — Essence
“This book is well worth the investment.” — Ebony
“Thoughtful and relevant. It should be required reading for advertising executives, especially those who count themselves among the Baby Boomer generation.” — Forbes.com
“He’s the conduit between corporate America and rap and the street, and the music industry generally,…he speaks both languages.” — Jay-Z
“Steve is credible in the music and entertainment worlds. Then he can switch gears, walk into the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company and speak his ideas in a way they can understand.” — Dennis Baldwin, Reebok’s top marketer
“[He’s] the right guy for guiding brands in using the record industry to reach youth culture in a credible way.” — Jimmy Iovine, CEO of Interscope Geffen Records
“The man who converts urban entertainment into corporate dollars.” — Complex
“In the loud, boastful world of urban culture, Steve Stoute has become a quiet but powerful force. And big corporations are betting he can deliver more bang for their bucks.” — Vibe
“Steve Stoute is making hot sellers out of cold brands.” — Business Week
“Stephen Stoute understands the value of the celebrity sell.” — Black Enterprise
“Stoute has masterminded an impressive array of brand/artist hookups.” — Advertising Age
The man who converts urban entertainment into corporate dollars.
In the loud, boastful world of urban culture, Steve Stoute has become a quiet but powerful force. And big corporations are betting he can deliver more bang for their bucks.
Steve Stoute is making hot sellers out of cold brands.
Stephen Stoute understands the value of the celebrity sell.
Stoute has masterminded an impressive array of brand/artist hookups.
Stoute advises a revolutionary concept for business leaders: Have a little fun along the way.
According to Stoute, a branding consultant and former record executive, "the adhesive of youth culture and inclusive racial diversity" has led to the "tanning of America." Ignoring the globalization of popular culture is perilous, he argues, and he seeks "to put an end, once and for all, to the boxing of individuals based on color." Part One traces the evolution of hip-hop and rap, showing how these forms brought success to performers who poetized their frustrations and appealed to urban teens who wanted to be cool. This section offers a detailed chronicle of early hip-hop musicians, including DJ Kool Herc and numerous others, as well as advertisers, such as Adidas and Nike, eager to increase their market share by plugging into hip-hop culture. Part Two details the "Power, Pitfalls and Potential of Tanning," and Part Three, "The Future of the Tan World," calls tanning a "cultural bridge" to the American Dream. "Cross-culturism is the next phase of tanning," writes Stoute, of which the most important element is "loving one another." VERDICT This detailed history of hip-hop as a musical genre and its genesis, development, and effects on society will appeal to historians and sociologists, as well as some fans of hip-hop. [See Prepub Alert, 12/13/10.]—Joanne B. Conrad, Geneseo, NY
An innovative advertiser shares views on cross-cultural marketing, using lessons from the explosion of hip-hop.
Stoute, founder of Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging, specializes in forging connections between established corporate brands and the community of musicians, rappers, actors and sports figures generally referred to as "urban." His basic point, repeated frequently, is that the demographic and social changes suggesting America is becoming more multi-hued and tolerant (the so-called narrative of "tanning") present new and exciting opportunities for promoting products in a competitive marketplace. He ties this argument to hip-hop's rise and gradual commercialization, starting with the grassroots success of the first Sugar Hill record "Rappers Delight" and the legendary 1986 concert where Adidas' German executives first heard Run-DMC's "My Adidas." Stoute argues that the aspirational nature of hip-hop—the crucial sense of outsider identity it provided from the 1970s through the '90s—makes it the ideal medium for merchandising everything from luxury goods to soft drinks: "being brand-conscious was nothing new for African-Americans—who I contend are the absolute best consumers in the world." By the early '90s, writes the author, advertisers and corporations perceived hip-hop's credibility and sales potential but were in dire need of "translators"—i.e., cultural point men who could demystify its codes and rituals. This led Stoute to transition from RCA's black music division to advertising; he realized "tanning" was affecting all aspects of consumer culture. The author's strength is his recall of various real-world examples of "tanning" in the lucrative, high-stakes arena of mass culture, seen in the success of Mary J. Blige, LL Cool J, Will Smith and other luminaries. He also discusses business narratives such as the "soft drink wars" and the changing fortunes of Reebok and Tommy Hilfiger to illustrate how his principles can help brands stay nimble and attuned. However, his specific prescriptions for businesses often seem general and dependent on buzzwords.
An unabashed celebration of branding, bling and the potency of marketing and consumer desire.