Jay-Z & Rocawear Lay Down the Viral Video Marketing Beat

Blueprint_3I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell
I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a well

– Jay – Z from “U Don’t Know”

In the lyrics to “U Don’t Know” from Jay-Z’s monumental September 11, 2001 release The Blueprint (amazingly one of the other top three albums from 2001, Dylan’s Love and Theft was also released that day) the Jiggaman closes his verses with “I will not lose.” Well Jay (Shawn Carter) has taken the refrain and is using it as the basis for a cross media marketing campaign for his Roccawear clothing brand featuring celebrities and individuals that have overcome trials and tribulations. The “I Will Not Lose” campaign launched last week with viral video and it too is a blueprint.

And if somebody woulda told ’em that Hov’ would sell clothin
Heh, not in this lifetime, wasn’t in my right mind

While last year Budweiser foolishly thought Jay-Z was going to sell them more beer (Bud sales slipped over 7% last year), Jay does know how to sell lifestyle better than just about anyone…and in any case, what lifestyle does “Bud” represent? (ok, please don’t answer that)

This time success is the aspiration Jay is selling. He pulls it off remarkably well. The campaign is the best execution I’ve seen since H&R Block’s “Me & My Super Sweet Refund.” That contest last year delivered to the most linked to comedy video in the history of YouTube.

If we are to believe the I Will Not Lose website it was Hova himself that thought up this idea up and forked out a measly $450k to produce it and get it out. The fans seem to like it as well. Meaning it is already a huge success. Throughout his career Mr. Carter has understood rule 1 of brand marketing; a brand can never lose the respect of its fan base.

The vids are shot beautifully by former chief photographer for Rolling Stone Mark Seliger and are the perfect mix of subject, story and product being used to help define a brand. The Jonathan Vilma clip is over 100k views on You Tube since it was uploaded two weeks ago with over 50,000 views the past two days alone. That’s “viralocity.”

Not all the videos are first rate but most provide a great mix of branding, promotion and production that epitomize how the internet video medium should be used by brand marketers. In addition to a contest to help fuel the viral element a feel good factor is in play as proceeds from the campaign and I Will not Lose-branded Rocawear merchandise will be donated to an I Will not Lose Foundation, which will distribute funds to charities selected by campaign participants.

Now I’m going to step to Hova with a little advice for the 100 million man. Get a paid search campaign around the names of the artists in the campaign and the name of the campaign itself. Also, you should be tracking and measuring which videos are drawing the most views on his site, not just on YouTube. That way you can optimize the presentation of the videos can get more engagement with your visitors. Also some of the videos seemed a bit long. Test editing them and see if this drives more engagement (views) and more time on site.

I’m smarten up, open the market up
One million, two million, three million, four
In eighteen months, eighty million more
Now add that number up with the one I said before
I, will, not, lose

8 thoughts on “Jay-Z & Rocawear Lay Down the Viral Video Marketing Beat

  1. Branding!!! I’m in marketing and all business talks about is a brand. Every since Starbucks has proved it is a hot thing, business has drawn towards to it. In Jay-Z’s case I don’t think that is it. I believe he has lived it. Life!!!!! Think about it. He has came from nothing and mad CEO of US music. Not a brand a lifestyle. He is what america should look at as a success. Although like most rich people, I think he will remember where he came from an try to make a difference.


  2. This is the part which I like most: I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell,I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a well.I can only nod. Your blog tackles a wide variety of topics. I like that! This article is an eye opener. keep posting.


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