Tag Archives: branding

Beyonce & Jay-Z: How A Divorce Could Affect Their Brands

30 Jul

Just to be clear, before we dive into this conversation, I’m a hardcore fan of The Carters. All of these rumors about a potential divorce frightens all of their fans. However, at this time, they’re nothing more than rumors. Let’s remain positive.

The Carters have been together for 10 years and are perceived to be pop-culture’s favorite couple. They’re worth more than $900 million and have been changing the definition of “music marketing” for some time. Jay-Z’s partnership with Samsung helped him to sell 1M albums in one day. As a part of her $50-million Pepsi deal, Beyonce released exclusive tracks with them and dominated the Super Bowl Halftime show.

So if divorce were to happen – which I hope it doesn’t –  what would it mean for their individual brands? Here are my thoughts …

Jay-Z’s Brand

Hip hop is one of the largest music genres of all time. “Do you listen to hip hop?” is a common question that comes up in social conversations. Jay-Z’s the rapper that gives street credibility to everyone, even the guy who doesn’t listen to any other hip hop artist. He’s the one rapper no one has anything negative to say about. We currently see HOV in the press quite often – at award shows, touring and releasing new music. In the event he and Mrs. Carter go their separate ways, I think Jay will go “Dr. Dre” on us. What that means is he’ll continue to work just as hard but he’ll do it behind the scenes. RocNation Sports, RocaWear and all of his music initiatives will become first priority. I don’t see him focusing a lot more on his solo career. Instead, I think he’ll continue to partner with younger musicians (Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, J. Cole) to maintain his street credibility.

Beyonce’s Brand

Mrs. Carter. Mrs. Carter. Mrs. Carter. A friend recently posted a Facebook status that pretty much summarizes my thoughts on how a divorce could affect Bey’s brand: “Sorry to hear about the divorce rumors but I’m prepared to purchase my ‘Mrs. Knowles Tour’ tickets.” Beyonce’s probably the best music entertainer we’ve seen since Michael Jackson. She is the face of female empowerment and surprisingly, in the era of social media, still maintains her “celebrity” status. Emotionally, I can only imagine how difficult a divorce is but professionally, it wouldn’t even be a bump in the road for Bey. She would continue to sell out world tours, surprise us with new albums and be a great role model. When celebrities are single, they’re perceived to be more desirable. There are plenty of brands that base campaigns on desirability and attractiveness. As a single woman, Beyonce would become a major spokeswoman target.

When it comes to Jay and Bey rumors, I never believe them (unless there’s video footage). So just to reiterate what I said earlier, I don’t wish divorce on anyone. If The Carters ever decide to separate, they’ll both continue to do well, professionally. How do you think a divorce would affect Beyonce and Jay-Z’s individual brands?


Is Kelly Rowland’s New Image Good For Her Brand?

16 Jun

Can we talk about Kelly Rowland‘s new image? For years, Kelly was branded as a classy woman. While I am happy she is having success with her

latest single “Motivation,” I’m concerned with what it will do to her brand. She is getting very “Keri Hilson” on us, right? I don’t want to think about Kelly as a freak in the bed, I want think of her as a classy woman who can be brought home to meet someone’s mother. I have been (and always will be) a Kelly fan. I had this conversation on Facebook a few days ago with friends who had very interesting opinions.

I would love to hear thoughts from you all. What do you think about her new image? Is it negative? Is it something that can hurt her in the long-run?

Let Kanye Be Kanye

17 Nov

Today’s post is part II of a two-part series. Yesterday, I shared my opinion on this situation and today, PR professional Brandon Vaughan is sharing a guest post with his opinion (which is slightly different than mine).

I would first like to say that this post is not a rebuttal to Kion’s. I, too am a big fan of Kanye (or “Yeezy” as most fans call him) and I was also taken aback after seeing his interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show. However, I can’t say that I was very surprised by his reactions during the interview. This isn’t the first time that he has ill-expressed himself in front of millions, and I think it’s easy for many to say Kanye will be Kanye. That said, a controversial response from Kanye is not something new, but specifically this time, rather than being disgusted at his actions, I empathized with him.

Empathy and sympathy are two similar, but fundamentally different things (during the interview Kanye also mentioned that he ‘empathized’ with George Bush), and to truly empathize is to show compassion for. I find compassion in the emotional verity of Kanye’s response.This is not the first time we have seen Kanye react so emotionally, in fact his facial expressions and obvious emotional discontent are very similar to those seen in his original, infamous ‘Hurricane Katrina Response’.

“Now all I need is y'all to pronounce my name / It's Kanye - But some of my plaques - they still sayKayne”

As PR professionals, it is our job to make sure our clients represent themselves in the most positive (or appropriate) manner, however it is also our job to make sure that their representation is indicative of their reality.  Based on what we can glean from reported information, I think that Susie Arons from Rubenstein Communications did everything she was supposed to do as a professional PR practitioner. As hired counsel, she successfully recommended to Kanye that he cancel his interview (perhaps because she felt that he was unprepared), and there was probably not much that she could do when he decided to change his mind hours later.

As a client, Kanye was well within his right to abstain from Ms. Aron’s advice, but  I think that proper and complete media training would have helped him to express his thoughts more effectively. Pain and frustration are seldom simple to express. The purpose behind media training isn’t to ‘coach answers’, rather it exists to give clients the skills they need to express themselves clearly and concisely.  Beyond the controversy of the statements themselves, I think Kanye came to the Today Show with a lot of things that he wanted to say, but he came without the tools that he needed. I do think Lauer’s purpose was to elicit a reaction, and subsequent apology from Kanye for his past reactions, but I also don’t think that Kanye was ready, or willing to give him those.

“Yeezy taught me.”

Fans of George Bush or Taylor Swift might not like Kanye very much based on his comments, but frankly, they probably didn’t like him much before his outbursts. In the days since his Today Show appearance, Kanye’s friends like JayZ, Selita Ebanks, Common and even Hip-Hop guru Russell Simmons have expressed their support for Kanye, with Simmons saying in “An Open Letter to Kanye West, “there is no need to apologize, Kanye. You spoke from your heart and that is all we will ever ask from you.”

He’s outlandish. He’s uncontrollable. He’s an interviewer’s nightmare, and yet, through his perfect imperfections, he remains truthful to himself.

I am not excusing any of Kanye’s actions, rather I’m saying : Let Kanye be Kanye.

Do you think Kanye should give media training another go?

Kanye West Is Not The Victim

16 Nov

Kanye West

Today’s post is part I of a two-part series. Wednesday, PR professional Brandon Vaughan will guest post and share his opinion (which is slightly different than mine) on the situation.

As a fan of rapper Kanye West, I am very disappointed with his behavior in the recent interview with Matt Lauer on “The Today Show.” Kanye met with Matt Lauer to discuss a recent George W. Bush interview where the former president claimed Kanye’s 2005 “George Bush does not care about black people” statement was one of the most disgusting moments of his presidency.

According to the NY Times, Kanye was coached by public relations agency Rubenstein Communications before his interview. If Kanye was coached by this agency, there are only two possible outcomes: he didn’t listen to anything they suggested or they’re not strategic public relations professionals. I’m a nerd for this industry so I will assume Kanye did not listen to the suggestions from this agency.

During the interview, Kanye perpetuated stereotypes everyone loves to hate him for – being cocky and rude. No matter what anyone says about Mr. West, he is a very, very talented artist and I will always be a fan. BUT, he continuously makes it hard to defend him in my inner-circle conversations. I know a great deal of people who will not support his music career because of his constant personal-life eff ups.

After watching the interview five times, I realized Kanye thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to say the first thing that comes to his head. Yes, he is a regular human being like everyone else but he is also a brand.


Kanye West

There were two incidents during the interview that got my blood boiling:

Kanye’s verbal and nonverbal reactions to Matt Lauer showing him a video of George W. Bush commenting on the situation

  • Kanye didn’t think it was necessary for this clip to be played because he didn’t need it to prompt any emotions. According to Kanye, he all ready was ready to apologize without seeing the clip. I totally understand Kanye’s point but it’s not his show and he wasn’t the journalist. Kanye should have followed Matt’s direction and shared his thoughts off set. Not only was he very rude while verbally expressing his disgust but he gave Matt and his team some very nasty looks.

Kanye complaining about hearing the “sound” when they ran the b-roll footage of him and Taylor Swift

  • First of all, I think Kanye was more upset at the fact they were playing the clip and not mad because he could hear the sound. If it was loud enough to distract him, that’s inappropriate but Kanye needs to realize the Taylor Swift incident will follow him for life. Sadly,  a lot of people will only remember him for that – mainly Taylor Swift’s hardcore following.

I could go on and on about this but I would love to hear your thoughts on this situation. Below is the video, what do you think about it?

Thoughts From A PR Professional On the Marie Claire Crisis

8 Nov

The fashion industry has been criticized for years by people who believe its major influencers encourage women to look a certain way: skinny, petite, a size smaller than six and anything else that isn’t obese. Fashion powerhouse Marie Claire is currently under fire from thousands of people who were offended by one of the magazine’s bloggers,  Maura Kelly. In Kelly’s recent post, she expressed how uncomfortable she feels

watching overweight people get affectionate on TV.

As a representative of an industry that has been criticized for this type of behavior, I am surprised the reactions weren’t predicted by Marie Claire’s senior staffers. Currently, Maura Kelly’s blog post has more than 3,500 comments. I didn’t have a chance to read through all of them – for obvious reasons – but the majority of what I read was not in support of the post and many found it to be rude and insensitive.

Several bloggers, news stations and publications have covered this story including Fashionista, The Washington Post, The Wendy Williams ShowOK! Magazine, CNN and Forbes – just to name a few. Marie Claire’s Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles did an exclusive interview with Fashionista where she addressed the negative reactions they have received from Kelly’s post – including more than 28,000 e-mails.

As someone who is passionate about brands and protecting reputations, I have a few suggestions for Marie Claire:

Give The People What They Want: A Formal Apology

While researching this crisis, I could not find a statement from Marie Claire’s senior team communicating their regret for offending so many people – including loyal readers. Yes, Maura Kelly – the blogger – apologized for her post but one is still needed from their editor-in-chief. An apology may seem typical for a brand that upsets consumers but if done right, it can make a huge difference. After watching the CEO of Domino’s Pizza apologize about their pizza incident via YouTube, I felt a lot better because I could tell he was sincere.

Help To Fight Obesity in America

In Kelly’s blog post and apology, it was made clear she is passionate about being healthy due to a previous eating disorder. This is the perfect time for the brand to find a way to help fight obesity in America. If a publication with a circulation of more than 970,000 readers can blog about obesity costing our country money, then they can donate their time to fight the cause.

Don’t Fire the Blogger

This one might come as a surprise to many of you, especially considering Juan Williams’ firing from NPR over a similar situation. One of the main things wrong with Kelly’s post was her delivery – she wasn’t cognizant of the fact she represents a major fashion house. In the post, she was too descriptive about her dislike for overweight people getting affectionate on TV. However, her editor-in-chief was aware of what she was going to discuss. Kelly is not the only one accountable and should not lose her job over this situation.

What do you think about Marie Claire’s crisis?

Are there other ways for them to protect their brand?

Sesame Street: A Brand That Communicates Cross-Culturally

26 Oct

Since 1969, the iconic brand Sesame Street has had a positive influence on American children – teaching them about different cultures, how to play with others and of course how to count and learn their ABCs.

Recently, Sesame Street took their cultural education capabilities to a new level. There has been a lot of online chatter about a new Muppet who absolutely loves her hair:

“I Love My Hair” is quickly approaching one-million views and is by far the most popular video on Sesame Street’s YouTube channel –  their videos typically average 50,000 views. This short video encourages African-American girls (and some women) to love their natural hair. Hair has been a pretty sensitive subject in the African-American community for a while so this video came at a perfect time.

While developing this encouraging piece, Joe Mazzarino – the writer of “I Love My Hair” – was thinking about his adopted Ethiopian daughter’s struggle to embrace her naturally curly hair as a 4-year-old:

At 41-years-old, Sesame Street continues to prove they understand how to communicate to different communities. This is a very challenging task that a great deal of brands still struggle with today. I commend their team for serving as cross-cultural communicators and pioneering acceptance education.


What other brands are doing a great job of communicating to different audiences?

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