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Exclusive: Why pop star Halsey invested in High Brew Coffee

She started out as a customer. Now she’s making the relationship official.

Exclusive: Why pop star Halsey invested in High Brew Coffee
Halsey [Photo: courtesy of the subject]

Just a couple of weeks ago, we saw Halsey follow up her chart-topping single “Without Me” by pulling double duty on Saturday Night Live as both host and musical guest, to rave reviews. Not only did she show off some impressive comedy chops, she also painted a giant portrait during her second song performance. In case we needed a little more evidence to make the case for her elevation toward pop-star polymath status, Halsey has become an investor and brand ambassador for Austin, Texas-based High Brew Coffee.

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It’s not the artist’s first foray into brand work: Last year she teamed up with Yves Saint Laurent and performed at Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in December (before denouncing the company CEO’s transphobic comments). But it is her first time taking a stake in a commercial partner.

In speaking with Halsey, she says she comes to the investment first and foremost as a fan and consumer of the product. “Given my lifestyle with constantly traveling, High Brew was an awesome discovery for me. I could pick them up from the supermarket and store them in my fridge, and because they’re packaged in a can, they’re conveniently portable,” she says. “I was a big energy drink drinker and switching to the cold brew can, which is again, easily portable, kind of satisfied that former habit, but in a healthier way.”

The 24-year-old has long been her own brand creative director–controlling her music, merchandising, touring company, and publishing–and she believes the only way for an artist to be successful in any brand partnership is to be a genuine customer.

“I only care to invest in products that I actually use in my daily life because I believe it’s disingenuous for an artist to advocate for a product they don’t really use,” she says. “When High Brew started becoming a part of my daily life, and I started recommending it to people–sending it to friends, asking other people to use it–I thought, ‘Well, I’m doing so much fieldwork for this brand, I might as well see what I can do to get involved.’ When I met with the company and saw what they were about, the relationship was kind of immediate. The conversation was basically, ‘Hey, I love your product, let me help you.'”

Halsey compares working with a company to collaborating with another artist, as she has done with the likes of The Chainsmokers, Khalid, and Lauren Jauregui, among others. “They have their own agenda, their own mission statement, their own brand they need to get across, [so] we need to come together to find the common ground between those two entities,” she says. “I’m not the only type of person that High Brew is ideal for, but I can present that product to people who are like me, which is maybe a unique demographic for them. Cold brew is a product young creatives and young professionals are interested in in this age, and I think I represent a lot of those facets being a young business person, always on the move, needing to keep my energy up. So if I can advocate for them and say, ‘Hey, this product has worked for me,’ then maybe other people with my similar lifestyle will want to try it, too.”

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The dynamics of influencer and celebrity marketing has largely become a murky hellscape of over-promotion and artificial Insta-enthusiasm. It may be an overused word, but Halsey goes back to the idea of authenticity and how it works best for the artist, the brand, and the fans. “I talk to my fans about products that I love, even when I don’t have an investment or relationship or incentive, so this is just another product for me that I talk about and have talked about even before having the relationship,” she says. “I think it’s about keeping the conversation candid and explaining why it really works for you, and showing how you use the product in your daily life rather than following some sort of text copy, sponsored-post formula.”

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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