by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Jay-Z has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in short order by transferring himself from being just a rapper to becoming an all around businessman. He and his wife Beyonce are on their way to becoming the world’s first billionaire entertainment couple, with their wealth being built on a pile of lucrative corporate partnerships.
But it appears that Jay-Z is suffering a bit because his constant paper chase has fans wondering if he is real or just a man who will do anything for money.
According to Business Insider, Jay-Z’s recent deals with Samsung, Barneys and the Brooklyn Nets have left consumers wondering if he is genuine. Jay-Z earned nearly $20 million from his deal with Samsung, but according to research done by celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev, Jay-Z’s deal was the second least popular celebrity marketing deal of the year among consumers aged 13 – 31.
Sendev says that, even though consumers still appreciate Jay-Z for his music, he lacks the authenticity that would persuade them to purchase a product he endorses. This is critical in marketing.
According to the research, millenials don’t just value swag and strong lyrics. They also respect celebrities who are honest and have social goals that are deeper than maximizing their profits.
Jay-Z’s scores in trustworthiness and honesty were 70% lower than other celebs like Morgan Freeman. The study showed that consumers can tell that Jay is intelligent, but his constant use of music to market his products may not be working to his advantage. For example, his latest project, Magna Carta Holy Grail, mentioned eight luxury products over twenty times.
“Millennials question the exact nature of Jay Z’s role in the artistic process,” Sehdev said. “Does he really write his own songs? Is he choosing the artists to collaborate with, or is he just the face of a money-making empire?”
Another deal that hurt Jay-Z’s brand was his work to bring the New Jersey Nets to his hometown of Brooklyn. Jay-Z was marketed by ownership to be a relevant owner in the team, when in reality, he only owned 1/15th of one percent of the team. That means that if you chopped the team into 1,500 pieces, Jay-Z owned just one of them. Shortly after the team moved to the city, he sold his stake.
Jay-Z’s use as a magnet to get support for the team was seen as a ploy to undermine an effort by activists to demand that the Nets create jobs for working class people in the Brooklyn area. Instead, the community got very little relative to what activists were requesting, in large part because the team was presented as one being owned by a black man.
“Millennials questions his approach to loyalty, whether it be to a business deal or his fans,” Sehdev said. “His motivations to just make money can be viewed by this audience as self-centered, even if they may be business savvy.”
Financial Juneteenth Lessons:
1) Always remember the double bottom line: Pure capitalism is unhealthy, since it breeds greed and values money over anything else. Intense obsessions with money ultimately destroy any society.
2) When building your brand, do not partner with just any company or individual who offers money. Think about the long term consequences of such partnerships, since the costs may outweigh the benefits. Everything that glitters isn’t gold.