How Marketing is Growing From Cultural Catalyst to Cultural Participation

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With the Emmys behind us, it's time to explore the growth of tent-pole marketing.

Tent-pole marketing is among the oldest of the modern-day marketing tactics; older even than the Emmy Awards itself, which ignited the Web Sunday night, and will likely continue to drive social discourse throughout the week. In pursuit of branding and relevancy, business attach themselves to events like the Emmys that stimulate conversation and dominate the news cycle. These events tend to drive discussion broadly across segment lines, so, of course, marketers want their brands close to the ruckus. The Super Bowl, the Grammys, the Academy Awards, and now the Emmys. Consumers, in large part, enjoy marketers' additions to these events. In many ways, marketing is a central element of the culture that these events drive.

Although Emmys-style tentpole marketing is an age-old marketing practice, it has morphed with the times.

At the convergence point between social media proliferation and the ascension of hip-hop culture lies an interesting marketing reality; one where brands work in concert with musicians to touch audiences and convert them to loyal consumers. Now, it seems, tentpole marketing also applies to ongoing cultural conversations. Take Sprite for instance.

Spite, an established arm of the seminal Coca Cola brand, has worked tirelessly as of late to associate itself with hip-hop icons such as Drake, Nas, Rakim, and Vince Staples. Doing so has brought the brand Red Bull levels of urban relevance. Brands such as Adidas, Hennessy, Marvel Comics, and Reebok have achieved similar cultural alignment through superstar rappers, and other prominent elements of hip-hop culture. Perhaps the most resonant and recent example of this marketing in concert with hip-hop culture came last month during the infamous Drake and Meek Mill battle.

What seemed another—if massive—moment of contention in the niche hip-hop market blew out into a social media frenzy, with brands proving themselves nearly as incendiary as the anonymous mob of hip-hop fans on these digital networks.

As hip-hop continues to dominate pop culture, brands' insertion into the social discourse will surely increase in frequency. This isn't a good or bad thing, it's business, obviously. But, it will be interesting to watch as marketing continues its evolution from cultural catalyst to participant.

DMNotes is DMN's around-the-clock blog. Yes, a blog in 2016.

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