Thursday, February 28, 2008

5174: Mo’ Mobile Marketing.


Urban Pioneers
How hip-hop is transforming the mobile marketing space

By Shahnaz Mahmud

NEW YORK In his hit song, “People Like Myself,” hip-hop artist Timbaland writes that people like him “only hang with self cause that’s the way to go.” But Timbaland found another way to go: He struck a precedent-setting deal with Verizon Wireless to distribute a collection of songs directly to the carrier’s V Cast subscribers, and to create content such as behind-the-scenes video footage of his recordings. Timbaland’s marketing effort helps Verizon as well, as the carrier aims to be a destination for young urbanites attuned to cutting-edge music and culture.

Timbaland is just one of several hip-hop artists and producers who are pioneering the mobile media space. And in transforming it into a major marketing platform, they can serve as models for brands ranging from packaged goods to autos trying to reach consumers on the move while leveraging new technologies.

Hip-Hop History

Hip-hop, born three decades ago at a Bronx block party when a DJ scratched a record to create the break-beat sound, has exploded into a culture that thrives on, and influences, music, fashion and art. It is the epicenter of cool for the young people driven to wear the newest styles and own the latest gadgets. It makes sense, then, that hip-hop artists more than those in any other genre have embraced the mobile medium as a tool for maximum audience reach.

“Hip-hop artists have done a tremendous job of tapping into the mind-set of who their consumer is,” said Kerry Perse, director of digital relationship marketing at Horizon Media’s interactive division.

Another recording artist using the mobile space is Rapper Murs (Making Underground Raw Shit), who is creating mobisodes (to be distributed across all carriers) to promote his new album, Murs for President. And fellow rapper Snoop Dogg -- both he and Murs work with The Cashmere Agency -- will launch a mobile video campaign this summer, for his new album, The Blue Carpet Treatment.

Additionally, late last year QD3 Entertainment, an independent production company led by Quincy Jones III that produces urban-focused content (e.g., documentary films), launched a QD3-branded channel on Helio.

“Hip-hop has been a viral phenomenon from day one,” noted QD3’s Jones, chairman, CEO and CCO. “I think that mobile and the Internet platforms provide an arena where they can do their own thing. I think it’s the empowerment of it that’s big as well. Like doing your own thing and being in charge of your destiny.”

[Read the full story here.]

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