Soul POVs

The Most Overused Word In Advertising: Culture

Written by Kenon Mak

Celebrities are fun to see—even better when they talk about stuff relevant to your work. 

In Hollywood Meets Madison Ave: Does This Ever Work?, I saw a great panel centered around Microsoft’s push to create Hollywood-level content in their ads. On the panel was Common—my favourite conscious (woke) rapper—and he spoke about his role in telling the Microsoft story: “You don’t want to be a whore. You don’t want to be working with so many different brands.” Clearly, Common is all about authenticity and that’s exactly the type of message Microsoft is trying to get through, that they are proud to be leading the way in technology. The CVP of brand, Kathleen Hall, mentioned that the old Mac vs. PC aren’t relevant anymore because there’s nothing to attack. This is really what people use their products for.

In a similar vein, What Brands Can Learn from Hip-Hop had Vic Mensa speak about hip-hop culture and how authenticity and be earned by brands. The biggest nugget came right away: the most overused word in advertising is “culture”, it’s a meaningless word without a proper definition. Culture is connection, conversation, and creation—it needs to be something tangible, something you can interact with. So by that definition hip-hop is culture. There was a talk about how Adidas brought itself to the #2 shoe brand again largely because of Kanye West. There are no forced fit endorsements, there’s an aura of authenticity around the collaborations. Also, a great quote from Vic Mensa: “Nobody likes those #ad posts on Instagram”.