“The Tanning of America,” is a book. But it’s not about sitting in the sun or in tanning beds. It’s not aboutAmerica’s growing immigrant population either. Tanning is about a state of mind that has taken over the world’s millennial generation. The whole title of the book is: “The Tanning of America: How the Culture of Hip-Hop Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.” Author Steven Stoute who spans the worlds of music and advertising, argues that hip-hop has erased ethnic and cultural boundaries especially as it relates to marketing. After a certain age, just about everyone of every race and culture is part of the hip-hop state of mind. Somewhere in a small town inFrancethere’s a jewelry store called – you guessed it, Bling. Consequently, traditional marketing demographics are out of vogue and brand specialists need to understand this, says Stoute. It could be the idea of the moment, or something more, but it is an interesting read.
Stoute, who created ads for Tommy Hilfiger featuring Beyonce, for instance, believes that advertisers need to craft their messages for the tanned state of mind. In his book and in numerous speaking engagements Stoute points to a seminal moment in tanning history. It was at a hip-hop event atMadisonSquareGardenin 1986 where Run-DMC was performing. A curious executive fromGermanyhad ventured to the concert because Adidas marketing analysis had shown a trend in their sneakers being popular with the hip-hop crowd. At some point, Run-DMC sang the song, “My Adidas,” and asked the crowd to hold up one of their shoes. Almost everyone was wearing a pair of the specific Adidas shoes. That led to endorsement contracts. Stoute says that before Notorious BIG, Louis Vuitton did not have a line of sunglasses. Hip-hop culture embraces luxury brands as “aspirational,” says Stoute and that is worth something to the brands. Along the way, hip-hop artistes were insulted when a Cristal executive said the product was not targeted at their audience demographic. Something to think about.