Miller's Deal With Hip-Hop Artists Questioned
Recently, Miller beer tapped an all star line up of hip hop personalities to promote its Miller Genuine Draft brand. Rappers like Common, Q-Tip, Cypress Hill, Talib Kweli, and Big Boi of Outkast kicked off the 1st ever "Flavor 2 Savor" concert series as an "acknowledgment of the influence, and pivotal role that urban music has played in shaping popular culture."
Culture critic and self professed brand bouncer Bucky Turco wonders why these black community icons would knowingly work with Miller, part of SABMiller which was recently criticized for its treatment of black workers. Turco said in an email to Adrants, "MC's like Common, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, and Cypress Hill constitute a strong part of the black intelligentsia and they tend to be brand conscious. It is surprising that the leaders of black thought in hip hop would be so supportive of Miller since it is owned by SABMiller, (the SAB standing for South African Breweries), the world's 2nd largest brewer, and the 3rd largest company in South Africa behind DeBeers and Anglo American Corp. SAB has often been criticized for exploiting its black workers and, for their intense marketing efforts to the poor black working class, especially miners. Something tells me no one told these guys what the SAB stands for."
While Miller might be trying to sweep it all under the carpet with this high profile marketing deal, SABMiller recently lost a landmark freedom of speech case in May 2005 against, Laugh it Off, a South African t-shirt, design and promotional company, that made controversial shirts mocking SAB and criticizing their mistreatment of black workers. The t-shirts took South African Breweries' Carling Black Label brand and parodied it printing "Black labor, white guilt." At first the South African Supreme Court ruled in favor of SAB but that ruling was recently overturned in May 2005 and Laugh it Off was granted free speech protects.
The "MGD Flavor 2 savor" concert series is traveling to four U.S. cities that began with a kick off in Minneapolis in mid-July. The concert will travel to New York, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia before returning to NYC in October for the finale. An urban flavored website was launched to promote the concert series. It has downloads, concert dates, video outtakes, and other hip hop inspired features.