You may have noticed this article in the New York Times, A Hip-Hop Contest to Promote a Brand. Trojan, the manufacturers of the Magnum brand of condoms, has grown revenues and marketshare for the Magnum brand, not through traditional advertisements, but through word of mouth: mentions in Hip-Hop music lyrics by artists such as Ludacris, Kid Rock, Lil Wayne, and Eminem. The NYT article doesn't make it clear whether the Magnum product manager engaged in product placement activities or simply fanned the flames. I suspect there may be some mutual promotion underway. ("I'll mention your product, you tell the world about my song.")
Now Magnum is building on the Hip-Hop momentum by launching a “Live Large” marketing campaign in the form of a contest soliciting more hip hop or R&B songs and lyrics from anyone, not just professional musicians.
You can go to the contest site, MagnumLiveLarge.com, download music tracks to use and/or use your own, and submit your own songs and lyrics about "living large." Fans can vote on the submissions and, of course, spread them around virally. The winner will receive a $5,000 prize and a trip to a hip-hop festival in mid-June in Atlanta, where they'll be congratulated by Ludacris.
How explicit are the lyrics likely to be? The NY Times article quoted Julian Long, a consultant for Colangelo Synergy Marketing, the agency responsible for the contest:
"We're looking for songs that encompass the Magnum lifestyle and what it means to live large — not just the size of the condom or what it’s put on but what it means to live large across the board," Mr. Long said. “We’re saying, ‘You know how to handle your business and we want to give you an opportunity to celebrate that level of understanding.'"
But we all know (as do the contest promoters) that people are much more likely to contribute and vote up sexually-oriented ditties than they are sex-free songs. Is this a problem? Perhaps, for people who find this type of lyric offensive, or if a child receives a link to an inappropriate song.
But it's a brilliant marketing strategy: Leverage an apparently grass roots phenomenon—the fact that the Magnum brand has become a popular icon among Hip-Hop artists—and build on it using the same genre. By having people contribute their own hip-hop songs, Magnum is building on the existing momentum. Contests are a good way to solicit crowdsourced contributions from creative folks who want to strut their stuff. Risqué submissions are likely to spread like wildfire, generating a lot of buzz. This is good for the brand. It's also a good way to make safe sex sexy.