It seems that Rihanna, Yeezy and Pharrell are driving brands towards music influencers. Actually, let me be honest. This started with Converse and punk music. The Chuck Taylor is synonymous with Rock and Roll. The shoe has stood the test of time and remains one of the most popular shoes annually. Music and shoes have a long history that really developed during the incubation of Hip-Hop culture. The Puma Clyde was the B-Boy footwear of choice and as emcees grew in popularity certain rappers were connected to the importance of particular brands. Run-DMC was adidas. Kool G Rap was Fila. The Fresh Prince was Jordan. I mean the connection between Will Smith and Jordan was so strong Nike created a Jordan Retro 5 called the Bel-Air. Sneakers and music go hand in hand.
What didn’t go hand in hand was the need to pay an influencer to wear the shoes. adidas did extend Run-DMC a deal, but that wasn’t the norm. Rappers would wear the stuff for free and many of them are wearing footwear and apparel for free today. Which is an interesting thing to consider when looking at the amount of sneaker deals being dropped on musicians. If the musicians wear it for free, why pay them?
While the success generated by Rihanna is evident in the rise of Puma and Yeezy and Pharrell have both been instrumental in creating the cool factor for adidas, upon closer inspection music industry influencers don’t really carry as much as influence as they appear to. Rihanna is an anomaly, but just look at her – she’s is what every guy wants and what every girl wants to be. Men don’t carry that weight. Think about it… when I say models you can name ten women models. If I ask you to name ten male models you may know one… if that.
A$AP Rocky is a regular on the fashion scene. His work with a variety of brands is considered worthy of coverage in Vogue and GQ and that should not be taken lightly. However, I’ve been covering sportswear brands for some time and if I took a moment to list the articles on this site showing the problems with riding with musicians I would have links that would flood this page. To put it in more straightforward terms, this deal with A$AP Rocky feels a bit forced to me, but it could work.
This could be a solid integration tactic for UAS. The problem is music artists, unlike athletes, are notoriously disloyal. Consider Big Sean jumping from adidas to Puma, 2Chainz collabing with Ewing and adidas, and then being featured in the C1N YT ad, Meek Mill rocking Nike footwear while signed to Puma, even Virgil Abloh crafting an entire Nike collection and then showing up on IG rocking Yeezys last week, and Kendrick Lamar jumping ship from Reebok to be the face of the Nike Cortez recently, and influencer marketing becomes sketchy. I mean Kendrick was proposing something similar to why A$AP is saying he signed with Under Armour. The brand is looking to work in conjunction with A$AP to create community centers and ventures to support neighborhoods. Kendrick was community building with Reebok, but ultimately jumped ship. ASAP is definitely a part of the fashion scene so if this is a UAS play, I kind of like it. If this is hoping to create a Rihanna x Puma connection I’m not sure if this will work.
There isn’t any secret about where my desires lie. I have several companies on my list that I’d like to work with. One of those companies is Under Armour. Someone in the room at UA should have presented the list of people above I mentioned in regard to influencer marketing. Every brand is connected to an entertainer. Nike has Drake and Kevin Hart. Under Armour already has the Rock, and this deal seems like it makes sense considering the success of the emcee and his fashion savvy but…
Will it work? Will this alignment generate the cool factor UA is looking for?
I hope it does, but I’m saying No.
Under Armour is a sports company. When I think of UA I immediately think “Protect this House”. I immediately feel like an event is about to take place where people will push themselves to the limit in athletics. The reason the Rock is such a good endorser of the brand is because The Rock looks like Under Armour. Jessie Graff looks like Under Armour. Misty Copeland looks like Under Armour. Steph Curry is Under Armour. I think Under Armour is selling itself short. The brand is an aspirational brand if they create the narrative around their athletes. They have a story. They are the upstarts, the fighters, the workers, the person who trains to reach a certain level and gets knocked down, but gets back up to #makethatold.
I’ve been complaining about the strategy for UAS and maybe this is their move to bring some coverage and energy to the line. UAS definitely needs it, but let’s be real A$AP wears dresses… dresses.