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Kanye West and His Absolut Image

On the train ride home last night, there was an ad for "BeKanye" — a miracle drug to turn YOU into Kanye West! It was a fun poster, done in the style of those cheesy supplement ads. And though it made me smile, it took me some careful examination of the small, legal text to see it is an advertisement from Absolut Vodka.

While the clever poster caught my attention, did it really do its job if I didn't connect Kanye to the Absolut company? I guess it is a branding campaign and I am supposed to go to the faux website where additional text and a commercial makes that connection to Absolut Vodka. I've knocked other companies viral efforts before and will not go down that road again, but what about the effect this has on Kanye's image and branding?

When a celebrity make a decision to use their identity in such way, there must be a realization that this may change the public's perception of them — for good or for ill. While I don't think Kanye will be damaged by this campaign, his image of being a serious musician who is socially conscious (a certain comment on live television comes to mind) may be underminded. Of course, that may the whole point...

Do you think Kanye is risking his brand in this campaign?

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  • Andrew Wasmuth

    Funny you should mention this. I saw these ads on the train and had no idea what they were for. It wasn't until I went to the movies recently that I saw it was an ad for Absolut Vodka (during the deluge of ads that have invaded the movie-going experience). I don't want to say it outright hurts his image, but it definitely ties him to alcohol use (is that really bad?). During one of my weaker moments years ago I flipped on MTV and saw a documentary on a prolific rapper named Nas. He is well-known and respected and during the show he received a call from Budweiser asking him to be in their ads. He declined the offer later telling the viewing audience something along the lines of 'there are kids that look up to me and I don't want to be tied to Bud because it would make them think I support drinking and it might influence them negatively'. Granted while some of his lyrics may be a 'bad influence' he hit this issue head-on. Your rep is tied to what you say and what you do. Needing the money to pay your bills (which Kanye doesn't need) isn't an excuse for dancing with hypocrisy.

    Side notes: 1) Jay-Z now does ads for Budweiser
    2) I would never have tried 40s of Colt 45 in my tender years if it weren't for Billy Dee Williams!