Never mind what anybody tells you. Music has always been about prima donna stardom and grown babies. The music industry has always been fueled by capitalism and the obsession has always been about finding the next profitable sound or act.

Capitalism is insatiable and music is its bed of excitement and flourish. In music, predictability of certain things might be hard, but in music, stars can be made or broken. An artist either has it or he doesn’t. When he does have it and he is able to crack it, sustenance is his next goal. This is not just for him, but for his label and backers as well.

The reason is simple; in music, the brand is as important as the music or the act. For artists, branding aids visibility and visibility aids an ability to own collective consciousness. As such, labels and PR agencies advise artists to get endorsed by brands. This isn’t just for the money, it’s also for strategic positioning.

If you represent a brand, you are introduced to its consumers. If you can negotiate your music to be a part of the process, then another feather to your hat and attire like an ancient Igbo Chief. Thus, the symbiotic relationship between artist and brands favours the artist/model/creative/public figure more than it favours the brand.

Moreover, the brand has an ad budget to spend. But in recent times, showbiz has gotten more fickle. Artists and their teams now focus more on the brand than the substance. Alongside their teams, labels are also obsessed with milking the artist. Thus, for the sake of money and aggressive visibility, the relationship between artists and art has grown mechanical.

Dedicated ad campaigns stop being sufficient. What brands now do is product placement. Sometimes, it comes in form of public use of the brand’s product by an artist. If you see DJ Cuppy drinking a random bottle of Pepsi in a gathering of 10,000, she might just be thirsty, but it’s also possible that she was paid for it.

However, those stopped being enough. Even dedicated social media posts got insufficient. Music videos are part of an artist’s model to push their singles or popularity. Sometimes, they are shabby and sometimes, they are very conceptual. But that’s not the conversation here; the conversation is the potential number of people who watch music videos.

Forget YouTube viewership for a minute. Think of the number of eyeballs that watch a particular music videos on MTVBase, HipTV, SoundCity and so forth. Think of the subscriber base of DSTV and GoTV. Now, add YouTube numbers. It runs in the millions - that’s something most Instagram posts might not guarantee.

Thus in music videos, you see artists use certain uncensored products. You see Burna Boy drinking Star in his video for ‘Anybody,’ or see Beats By Dre speakers at the beginning of ‘New Flame’ by Chris Brown, that’s product placement. Artists don’t do charity and neither do media organizations.

When you watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians and you see the design on some of their outfits get blurred out, it’s mostly because they don’t want to do free advertisement. It could also be because producers don’t want a potential collision between those brands and sponsors they actually have deals with.

So when you see any brand boldly get advertised or even get subtly used in music videos, it’s usually intentional. Well, except the artist and his team are dumb or they need to use those brands for a reason, that is. This is the concept of product placement in Nigerian music videos.

It happens in two forms;

  1. Ambassadors
  2. Fleeting deals

Ambassadors

Like echoed earlier in this article, brands endorse certain creatives or public figures to promote their products. The idea is to input said product into collective consciousness with the help of a familiar or stunning appearance. Thus, these creatives or public figures become ambassadors to these brands - albeit for a defined time.

Thus, while they’re ambassadors, they do ads, join dedicated campaigns and start conversations. But sometimes, when the creative is an artist, you see them dedicate segments of their videos to brands they represent.

That’s why you can see Pepsi in music videos by Wizkid, DJ Spinall or DJ Cuppy. That’s why you see a dedicated Star section in Burna Boy’s music video for, ‘Anybody.’

Fleeting Deals

Fleeting deals represent quickie product placement without a necessary ambassadorial contracts. These happen in Nigerian music videos, but they are not as common as ambassadorial placements. The reason is simple; Nigerian acts are not stupid. They don’t want to hand brands quick exposure that pays little to nothing.

Sometimes, this type of placement does little to nothing for an artist's personal brand. Word is that except the money offered is stupendous or it helps an artist raise funds for a video, Nigerian artists usually reject these deals.

What does this phenomenon mean for Nigerian music videos?

It means the world has become a global village and concepts are crossing borders at a hilariously higher rate. It also means more money and exposure for artists and potentially, the originating brands as well.

Could they be done better?

Absolutely. Brilliant ads that truly resonate and cause people to enjoy are creative. These are the ads that hack the collective consciousness and even arouse discussions. Currently, Nigerian brands and ad agencies can be more creative with product placement.

If you’re advertising a drink, the most obvious thing to do for an artist to place a bottle in his music video or drink from that bottle. However, it shouldn’t be that simplistic. Personally, this writer would like to see some daring bits of product placement.

Lady Gaga's ad for Diet Coke in the music video for 'Telephone.' (YouTube/Lady  Gaga)
Lady Gaga's ad for Diet Coke in the music video for 'Telephone.' (YouTube/Lady Gaga)

An example of such is Lady Gaga’s memorable one for Diet Coke in her collaborative music video with Beyonce for ‘Telephone.’ She turned cans of diet coke into hair rollers. They were conspicuous and hilarious. We took notice and both parties won.