When Janis Joplin included a track on her 1971 album Pearl which featured lyrics which asked God to buy her a Mercedes Benz since all of her friends drove Porsches, most listeners were not aware that what she had done was not just write a lyric about the absurdity of the core of American materialistic culture, but was actually launching a paradigm of product integration into popular songs! As it turns out, this form of “in lyric commercial” became a standard for popular music. In a digital download world where the conventional structure of the music industry has been turned upside down this tactic can offer considerable advantages for brand marketers who want to reach the pop music listener.

Run-DMC mentioned Adidas 22 times in one track

In some cases the product integration is rather subtle as in The Eagles’ 1976 “Hotel California” which features Mercedes (again) while adding Tiffany this time around. In other cases, the product integration becomes almost obsessive and overwhelming as in the case of Run-DMC whose 1986 song “My Adidas” features the brand name no less than 22 times in the lyrics! The story of how the track came to be is part of musical legend. Apparently Run-DMC had a preference for Adidas shoes and at one concert asked the audience to take their shoes off and wave them high above their heads. Adidas signed the group to an endorsement contract almost immediately.

What came first, the song or the brand endorsement contract?

Grand Puba may have set the record for the most frequent mentions of a brand across the breadth of their songs. The clothing brand of Tommy Hilfiger is inserted in no less than five separate tracks in releases over several years. Whether the actual truth of these endorsements is by spontaneous coincidence or specifically by design has been endlessly questioned by skeptical wags. When Angie Stone wrote the track “Remy Red” (a Remy Martin cognac cocktail) was her tour sponsorship with the alcoholic beverage brand already secured, or was it a case that she wrote it of her own free will and the track was then discovered by the brand? We may never know the answer.

Rapper-favorite Escalade buyers’ average age dropped 12 years

What we do know is that these endorsements can be highly lucrative. General Motors paid $300,000 for Ms. Jade to place a Hummer in her video “Ching Ching.” However, it is GM’s Cadillac Escalade model which has received the most musical product integrations with considerable placements in the lyrics of Pink, Jennifer Lopez, Outkast, Three 6 Mafia, Ja Rule, Missy Elliott, Jadakiss, Big Tymers, and many more. The strategy has borne significant fruit for the car company as the model was swiftly adopted by popular rappers and GM saw the average age of their Escalade buyer drop by an extremely desirable 12 years… in just a few months!

McDonalds wants to control the context of its lyric brand integrations

The total amount of money which is earned by musicians each year for lyric and music video product placements is estimated at well over $50 million per year and growing steadily. McDonalds actually secured the services of the Maven specialty consulting agency to research the rappers who might be willing to integrate the restaurant’s products into their tracks. Of course, McDs’ contract would specify that the brand controlled the mentions so that they wouldn’t end up with the slam which Will Smith gave them in his 1997 track “Just Cruisin'” where he claimed that a meal at the Golden Arches had left him with digestive problems.

With a New Media Strategies report proving that 60 percent of all popular music responders were interested in purchasing the products mentioned in their favorite tracks, many brand marketers are not hesitating in benefiting from paying for product integration into the lyrics of popular songs and reaching a laser targeted audience. You could follow their lead and your brand could be then placed in the product integration pantheon alongside House of Dereon (Beyonce), Rocaware (Jay-Z), Sean John (Diddy Combs), Reebok (50 Cent), Courvoisier (Busta Rhymes), Moschino (Kool G Rap), Coca-Cola (Kanye West)…