Brands & Merch Howdy Partner

Howdy Partner #2: T-Pain knows nothing of enthusing the customer base

By | Published on Thursday 1 November 2012


Since last we slipped into the world of artists teaming up with brands, there was a period when we worried that the Brand Partnership Quote Watch column might be dead before it had even had a chance to get going. Suddenly artists seemed to giving brief, tempered and (worst of all) not particularly funny statements to go with announcements that a big company had dumped a load of cash on their doorstep. We weren’t about to suggest that we’d personally made brand-endorsing artists see the error of their ways, but there was a niggling concern that someone might have collectively had a word with the marketing industry, or at least whoever writes their press releases.

A prime example is T-Pain’s partnership with Phusion Projects’ Moskato Life alcoholic drink, which he announced with the words: “I’m very excited about partnering with Phusion to represent the brand. It’s a perfect fit because I’m all about living life – now I’m living the Moskato Life and I’m ready to celebrate!”

OK, these aren’t words anyone would ever have actually said in the history of speaking, but bear in mind that earlier this year, when announcing his own drinks brand LeSUTRA, Timbaland said: “Everything that I create is groundbreaking and LeSUTRA is no different … My infectious style has helped produce career-defining hits for artists worldwide, and now I’m guaranteeing another hit with LeSUTRA”.

That’s more like it! Timbaland isn’t just “excited” about hawking something new, he thinks the product is “groundbreaking”. Groundbreaking like EVERYTHING he creates. Now I don’t just want Timbaland to sell me a groundbreaking drink, I want him to come round and cook me a groundbreaking fry-up to ease my hangover the next morning. T-Pain knows nothing of enthusing the customer base.

Speaking of which, Taylor Swift went into brand partnership overdrive ahead of the release of her new album ‘Red’. Though you have to worry that she spread herself a bit thin, because something that should have been prime for hilarity (ie Swift endorsements) fell a bit flat when she opened her mouth (let’s pretend for a moment that any artist ever actually says any of these quotes out loud).

She first teamed up with Walgreens and Duane Reade stores in the US to sell some ‘Red’-themed merch, about which she said: “I look forward to sharing my music and merchandise with my fans, and making it easier for them to pick up their favourite items when visiting Walgreens or Duane Reade stores”. Fucking hell, that’s just saying what’s happening. And the press release had already told me that.

Luckily, there was an opportunity for Swift to have another go when she leant her name to shoe manufacturer Keds to launch a pair of shoes. The shoes are red. And they have “RED” written on them. Because Swift’s album is called ‘Red’, see? Amazing. And what did she have to say about it? “I’m so excited to be partnering with Keds. I’ve been a fan of Keds for years because they have two of my favourite elements of great style – they’re classic and effortless”.

Better, but still not exactly a classic of the brand partnership quote genre. The last ditch hope was a promotion with Papa John’s pizzas in the week of the album’s release. Fans were able to order ‘Red’ as a sundry item when purchasing a pizza. Then the pizza and CD would be delivered to their door and they could have a Taylor Swift listening party. This is possibly the funniest entirely serious brand partnership ever conceived. But did Swift come up with a suitably OTT and/or silly quote to match? Did she bollocks: “I’m excited to be partnering with Papa John’s for the launch of my album, ‘Red’. I love the idea that fans can order my CD with their pizzas”. Once again, back to just explaining what the deal is, with a token “excited” and “love” thrown in. Rubbish.

Thankfully, the recent run of brand alliance quotes hasn’t been entirely this poor. And it was another shoe tie-up that got things rolling, when Justin Bieber was announced as a ‘style icon’ for Adidas’ NEO brand. “I found a real connection with NEO because it is about fashion, freedom and being true to who you are”, said Bieber of his new position. I would have thought that NEO’s message was mainly about wearing shoes, but no, it’s all about what Justin already preaches every day: “With my new album, ‘Believe’, I am spreading the message of believing in yourself. The first step is showing who you are, and one of the great ways to showcase yourself is through fashion. For me style is an adventure, something to have fun with and NEO believes this too”.

Adventure! That’s what comes from fashion: freedom and being true to who you are, and if you listen to ‘Believe’ by Justin Bieber and wear Adidas trainers, these things will be coming to you quick sharp. Of course, you’ll need some good quality headphones to listen to Bieber’s album if you’re going to properly take in his message of believing in yourself. How about some created by that bastion of audio quality, Simon Cowell?

The Syco chief recently teamed up with Sony to create a new range of X branded headphones. Now, you might be sitting there thinking, ‘well clearly Simon Cowell has seen the success Dr Dre has had with his Beats range and now he wants a piece of that’. But you are wrong. So very wrong. Simon has come up with these headphones (all by himself) because he couldn’t find any headphones on the market that did his Tweenies records justice.

“I chose to make a set of headphones with Sony because I simply wanted something better than what is in the market today”, he explained. “I’ve tried all of them, literally every single one”.

Literally every single one. Even those ones you get free on tourist buses that fall apart before you’ve had a chance to plug them in, just to be sure they weren’t actually the best quality headphones ever made.

“Sony and I set out to create the best headphone in the world”, he continued. “We are absolutely blown away by these. With the X Headphones, it’s like being in the recording studio when the records are made. The sound is that clear”.

Of course, that is impossible, given almost all commercially released is compressed to some degree. Full studio quality audio is very hard to come by as a consumer. Neil Young’s forever banging on about that, hence why he’s trying to get his own company off the ground selling studio quality downloads and players. Though now I think about it, the idea of someone buying Neil Young’s PONO player and then feeling they have to get a pair of Simon Cowell’s headphones to go with it is quite appealing.

And if you’re going to be having all that perfect music running through your ears, then you should probably have some musical water running around your body. “Musical water?” I hear you say. “But there’s no such thing”. And you would be correct. At least, you would have been, but now Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter has invented water that has actual music in its DNA. I know, I would have though that was scientifically impossible too, but apparently not.

“We noticed none of the [soft drinks] brands had music in their DNA”, said Carter upon announcing Pop Water. “We felt we could build something with relevance to music and pop culture if we built something from scratch. Whether it’s flying to Kentucky with food scientists or flying around the world sourcing the packaging, the last two years has been an education for us in the beverage space”.

That’s right, he built some water from scratch and it took him two years. I’m going to go over to the kitchen now and build some water from scratch mysefl. I forsee it taking about 30 seconds. But first, let’s have a look at the most amazing brand partnership of recent times, maybe any times, Snoop Dogg/Lion’s hook-up with Hot Pockets.

Hot Pockets, should you be unaware, are microwavable snacks. Like a very slightly upmarket Findus Crispy Pancake, or the worst calzone pizza you’ve ever had in your life. Their tagline is ‘Irresistibly hot’, because the only distinguishing feature about them is that they’re not cold.

Warming up the announcement of a campaign with Snoop (see what I did there?), Daniel Jhung, Brand Manager of Hot Pockets owner Nestle USA, said: “Everyone loves Snoop Dogg because he’s fun and irresistibly hot just like Hot Pockets. Snoop Dogg brings the concept of irresistibly hot to life. No matter where Snoop is, he’s able to enjoy Hot Pockets, no matter how outrageous or unconventional the setting”.

Yeah, I’ll tell you what, whenever I’m in a particularly outrageous or unconventional setting, I tend to want to eat a snack that is not cold too. Note how ‘on brand’ Jhung was there, with both the product name and the tagline in his quote. Then check out the master.

“Hot Pockets are irresistibly hot”, began Snoop, slapping both two word key phrases into a sentence of five words. You don’t learn that sort of skill overnight. He continued: “Hot Pockets have always been a favourite in my house, so this project was something that I felt I could really get behind. Plus, we had a great time coming up with the remix”.

Remix? What remix? Oh, did I not mention the remix of his 2004 single ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’? And when Snoop says ‘remix’, he really does mean complete and total rewrite in exchange for top brand dollar. Check it out:

If you spot a particularly fine brand partnership quote, don’t forget to drop us a line at

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