In 2016, Metane released his documentary film Brands Doing Dope Sh*t. Documenting the Castle Lite Extra Cold Experience, the film showcases a successful formula of a brand working in an effective partnership with hip hop culture. It’s a topic he continues to revisit, seeking to encourage other brands to consider similar types of partnerships.
Culture and business aligning
When asked about what the ideal relationship between brands and urban culture might look like, Metane first responds that brands need to realise how the ownership structure of media has changed, with consumer-owned media now playing a much bigger role. It’s in brands’ best interests to embrace that. For some, that will mean having to reinvent themselves in order to evolve to new mediums.
“Everyone in culture is trying to get an audience, trying to get a buy-in with an audience,” he says. “So, essentially, the brand has to acknowledge that they’re actually dealing with another product [the artist].” While the brand can offer monetary capital, the artist can offer capital in relevance. The conversation has to start there, he says, with culture and business understanding what the other can bring to the table.
The question of compromise arises, and some degree of compromise will always be required, he concedes. Brands will sometimes have to take risks, while artists will sometimes have to soften their tone. Metane says that both sides have to consider the long-term impact of their collaboration, but brands should focus on aligning themselves with the culture more than with any one individual (and by extension, that individual’s behaviour).
Celebs are just the face of a culture
“An artist who’s popular at that point, is the face of the culture for that moment,” he explains, “But you can never put a person in front of the culture. You’ve got to know how your brand fits into the culture, through that person, and a lot of brands literally start from the person without respecting the culture. They don’t understand how the culture made that person the face.”
He says that every culture will always have a face, but it’s the story of how that person came to represent the culture that should be the focus.
Metane states with confidence that about 80% of current marketing strategies in this space are flawed. This is because they’re being conceived by people who didn’t grow up around the culture and rather see it through a window. He says those that do understand it seldom have the influence, whether for lack of confidence or representation. It comes back to the importance of both sides understanding the other, he explains, appreciating that both brands and artists have histories behind them.
Influencer game not cutting it
Influencer marketing, Metane believes, is heading for major disruption. He believes the concept is a step in the right direction, but the execution, so far, is way off.
“So, right now, it’s like you heard that I’ve got so many followers on my social platform, but you don’t know why I’ve got those followers. Maybe I’ve got all those followers because I’m always saying the wrong thing, and people like that.”
He says that companies suggesting influencers are too often coming from outside and basing it purely on numbers, which is a backwards approach. Meanwhile, he says, there are young artists out there acquiring over a hundred-thousand streams on Soundcloud and gaining massive followings through new media, yet their faces are unfamiliar, they’ve never appeared on TV – they’re reinventing the wheel and aligning with the new market.
“These kids are not trying to do interviews, they are awkward in front of a camera, they have no personality because they built themselves on the internet,” says Metane. “Now, you’ve got to navigate using that person as an influencer when he’s got no personality.”
It’s vital for the worlds of business (what he terms the ‘monster’) and culture (the ‘heart’) to work this out in order to create a world that young people want to be a part of, he says, where they feel they have a place to grow.
“Until they do, we’re going to have these kids that are angry, lost, that don’t know what they’re living for.”
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Interested in influencer marketing? Read more in our article Jumpstart puts influencer marketing in the spotlight.
Siya Metane Slikour onLife influencer marketing urban culture brand alignment Skwatta Kamp