Steve Stoute: 'Tanning of America' Isn't About Color, But Mindstate
1 year ago
Music exec turned marketing maverick talks about the 'shady' side of advertising
Before Steve Stoute made the transition from music to marketing, corporations were pretty clueless on how to appeal to young, urban communities with disposable income. If Stoute has made selling to this group look easy, it's only because he knows what he's doing. Having served as the President of Urban Music at both Interscope Records and Sony, he marketed and developed the careers of everyone from Eminem to Mariah Carey. Since launching Translation, a marketing, advertising and branding company which he co-owns with Jay-Z, he's gone from putting out records to putting out award winning campaigns.
The award winning marketer is looking to put his official stamp on the advertising world with his book The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy. His debut book focuses on the impact that Hip Hop has had and will continue to have on how people in America spend their money. Insisting that the term "tanning" goes beyond color, Stoute spoke with Loop 21 about the book, its intentions and the changes he wants to see it make.
Loop 21: Translation can be viewed as a firm that companies go to when they want to get black or urban support. Do you think that is an unfair stigma, or do you welcome that idea?
Steve Stoute: Well, it’s because I’m African American and I came from the Hip Hop music business, so that’s why people think that. Certainly, launching McDonald’s “I’m Loving It” on a global scale has nothing to do with the urban consumer. Certainly, you can’t limit the work I’ve done with Jay-Z to be myopic to the urban consumer. Certainly you can’t look at these State Farm commercials that have couples, Asian people, Latin people [and limit them] to the urban consumer. But I accept that I’ve made such an impact in the Hip Hop world that people always associate me with that. I’m not trying to shake it. I’m proud of everything I’ve done in the Hip Hop business, it is what it is. But when you look at my body of work and the totality of it, then you know that it's much more broader.
You peeped your head back into the music business for a second when you took out an ad in the New York Times to voice your displeasure with the Grammy awards this past year. Some think it was a move to bring attention to your company. Did you get any new business from that?