Though expectations are already high for the lineup at the inaugural Budweiser Made In America festival in Philadelphia this weekend - Pearl Jam, Run-DMC, Skrillex and curator Jay-Z are among the confirmed headliners, with Beyonce rumored to make a surprise appearance - the two-day event represents much more than just a concert to Steve Stoute.
The CEO of ad agency Translation - who helped pair Budweiser, Live Nation and Jay-Z for the festival - is also co-producing a documentary based on the making of the festival with director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer, as well as Budweiser's Paul Chibe and @radical.media.
"We've started filming things already - there's a lot capture," says Stoute, who teamed with Anheuser Busch earlier this year for a series of ads and synchs for the 2012 Super Bowl. "The narrative of this film is not a concert. The narrative is everything Made In America stands for, and the music is a backdrop. Budweiser has been a partner from the beginning because they own the trademark for 'Made In America.' You're gonna start seeing brands become much closer to the content."
Made In America is the latest example of what Stoute calls a "tanning moment" - an intersection of hip-hop and mainstream culture that he outlined in his book "The Tanning of America" published last fall by Gotham Books. "When you look at the roster, we go from Jay-Z to Afrojack to Rick Ross to Jill Scott to Pearl Jam and then from that to Skrillex - oh I'm sorry, let's talk about Drake, let's talk about D'Angelo. You're really speaking about 28 acts that are extremely diverse that are all gonna bring in their own music thing. I really want to break down genres in all media - film, TV, radio. I think that genres in media drive that separation and Made In America is gonna show it doesn't make a difference, as long as you can bring people together under the same mindset."
From a business perspective, Stoute already considers Made In America a success. "We're gonna sell 45,000 tickets," he says of the rare concert event in Philadelphia's Ben Franklin Parkway (at the foot of the famed "Rocky" steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum). But the cultural impact is what he hopes will be even longer lasting - particularly when it comes to creating demand for future installments. "We want people to walk away saying, 'Wow this is one of the best shows I've ever gone to. We plan on doing this many years. It's an exciting time for the group to come together. I've worked with Jay for many years but this is the first time we've done anything like this."
Stoute also credits Budweiser for contributing to its artistic content. "Their integration has allowed the festival to be much more than just music and partying. We're having art students around the country design their own version of the American flag. It's very incredible and very telling of where we are as a generation, seeing what these students would do if they could do the American flag over. Some of this stuff would make Betsy Ross flip over in her grave."