Tuesday, January 30, 2007

COCA COLA + JAY Z = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


Coca-Cola has tapped rapper /entrepreneur Jay-Z to remix its Cherry Coke brand.

Jay-Z will play a hand in all aspects of the fruit-flavored soda's relaunch, ranging from the look of the new can to the TV commercials and even co-producing and appearing at the brand's Feb. 7 launch at New York's Fashion Week. Cherry Coke Zero, its diet sibling, will also debut.

Scoring a deal with the chart-topping superstar is a coup for marketing-challenged Coke. Jay-Z is already the face and co-brand director of Budweiser Select. As part of his duties at Anheuser-Busch, he will appear in a Super Bowl spot three days before the Cherry Coke relaunch. The rapper also appeared in a commercial spot for Hewlett-Packard notebook computers and this month (January) he unveiled a deal with General Motors and its Yukon Denali SUV.

"The more brands he fronts, the less the strategic power each of the individual appearances have," said Lucian James, CEO at marketing consultancy Agenda, San Francisco.

Teaming with Coke is merely the latest facet of Jay-Z's "new presence as an executive," said Jameel Spencer, CMO Rocawear, New York. "It's his new opportunity to expand his standing in the business world. Besides just recording, he's making TV commercials and campaigns for brands . . . [And], who is better than Coke? They're the biggest."

The new can will feature a cityscape design. It marks the third time the brand, which debuted in 1985, has been repackaged during the past five years. But Cherry Coke has been long ignored by Coke, which spent about $100,000 on media during the past six years combined and nothing at all in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Jay-Z was first linked to the cola giant last fall when an eight-minute video clip from a Radio City Music Hall performance, which included Coke promotional materials, began appearing on file-sharing sites. The clip was a part of the Coke Side of Life's Stageside.com interactive effort.

Despite his full slate, "Jay-Z brings a sense of genuine hip-hop authenticity to the brands," said James. "His role is helping brands not get it wrong the way McDonald's did with African Americans rapping about French fries. There's a reassurance that they won't appear like an out-of-touch uncle trying to act cool."

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