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Lil Yachty, Vince Staples, DRAM, Vic Mensa, Kamaiyah and Kap G are all teaming with Sprite for the soda's summer ad campaign that will cover its cans and bottles with the up-and-coming rappers' lyrics.
The "Summer Sprite Cold Lyrics Series" is the third installment in as many years of similar programs for the beverage. But where the past years' cold-inspired (or at least cold-referencing) rap lyrics were more backward facing towards hip-hop's past, this version is the first initiative solely based in the genre's present.
After launching the campaign in 2015 with classic lyrics from The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Rakim and others, last year Sprite mixed old and new with 2Pac, Missy Elliott and J. Cole. Now Bobby Oliver, director, Sprite & Citrus Brands, Coca-Cola North America, calls the latest roster of acts the "next generation of hot hip-hop artists" who represent a "fresh perspective" in the culture.
"We thought that the words we chose from their lyrics perfectly represent the cool, cold, delicious, intrinsic attributes of Sprite that we want to promote," Oliver tells Billboard. "So it's a fun way to not just bring them on as endorsers of Sprite and endorse Sprite but to do so in their own words that they feel represent their lifestyle and that represent hip-hop and the game right now."
The campaign, which launches later this month, features lyrics from songs including Mensa's "Hollywood LA," DRAM's "Sweet VA Breeze," Kamaiyah's "Ain't Goin Home," Staples' "Norf Norf," Kap G's "I Be Up" and Lil Yachty's "Minnesota," which was used last fall in a Sprite television ad that featured LeBron James as part of the "Wanna Sprite" campaign. As well, the brand will create social media content throughout the summer featuring what it's calling the "Sprite-sized Endorsers," which are mini figurines of the showcased artists that will debut for the BET Experience at L.A. Live in Los Angeles this weekend.
The program will be supported with a marketing campaign including TV, outdoor, radio, digital, social, retail advertising.
"We've been really excited about the performance over the past two years and the program has worked really well for us," says Oliver. "It's been very strategic on how we have evolved this program over the last three years to build off our previous successes, while getting further deeper in the relevancy to our fans."
This return of Sprite's lyrics campaign continues its longstanding relationship with hip-hop culture that spans back to the 1980s when it ran an ad featuring Kurtis Blow. In so doing, Oliver says, Sprite is supporting the culture and offering its artists a platform for recognition, even when the mainstream hasn't always been so accepting of the genre.
"It's a two-way relationship that we have with hip-hop," he says. "We don't like to think of it as we're taking a corporate campaign and fusing it into hip-hop. What we wanted to do is we recognize hip-hop's popularity and the fact that the artists in that genre are really looking to just express themselves and stay true to who they are. They have a voice and they have a point of view that nobody was paying attention to and Sprite just felt that, 'Hey we can help give you a platform from which you can express that.' And so it was a mutually beneficial partnership in terms of us just wanting to help other people elevate themselves to be able to express themselves, stay true to who they are and what they believe because we all have a voice and everybody deserves to be heard."
He adds, "It's not about a corporate marketing gig or anything in that nature. It's about how do we stay true to what hip-hop was meant to be, what it originally meant to our fans and just provide that platform for them to enjoy it."
And it's seemingly been paying off. Without providing any specific metrics, Oliver says Sprite's lyrics campaign have been a success for the company and points to sales growth over the past two years as proof.
"We've seen that all of our programming and all of our advertising we've been executing have been working, especially this summer program for us," he says. "Not only has it delivered the sales numbers that we're looking for, it's also delivered a deeper fan resonance and engagement."
Looking ahead, Oliver says they are currently having "ideation sessions" about where this campaign will go next year and beyond. Meanwhile, he says he hopes this can lead to long-term relationships with all its featured artists, akin to those it as established already with Lil Yachty and Staples, and says conversations for more creative partnerships are currently underway.
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