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.

by Steve Hall    Aug-10-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Brands   

Enjoy what you've read? Subscribe to Adrants Daily and receive the daily contents of this site each day along with free whitepapers.



Maybe it was hard for them to pay attention to details with the ching-ching sound of money ringing in their ears.

Posted by: Melissa on August 10, 2005 2:29 PM

Yeah...there's some real impartial journalism. Somehow I remember a story not so long ago about Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/Push Coalition boycotting Anheuser-Busch (A-B) for not having any Black senior mngt positions. The result: Jesse Jackson's family somehow picks up a lucrative A-B distributorship in Chicago. Hmmm? Wonder how that pay-off all of a sudden materialized. If you want to point the finger at SABMiller for indiscretions, get ready to point the finger right back at A-B.

Posted by: Watchu Tawkbout on August 10, 2005 3:23 PM

food (or drink in this case) for thought re: heineken

Posted by: on August 10, 2005 3:42 PM

The concert slated is scheduled for next Wed. the 17th.

I wonder if Talib will show now.

BTW... I recall a case where Anheuser Busch and Miller were ensued in a legal battle over AB's right to critisize Miller as a South African company and not an American one. AB brought up a lawsuit arguing that Miller's claim of largest American brewer is false advertising since it is owned by SAB.

Posted by: Bucky on August 10, 2005 4:44 PM

Of course they know what it stands for. But who cares as long as they get thier big 'phat' I mean FAT paychecks

Posted by: Skip on August 10, 2005 4:44 PM

I don't know if you intentionally misinterpreted the Laughitoff t-shirt to get at SABMiller or it is another example of Americans misunderstand the rest of the world.

However the t-shirt was no more about SAB than another t-shirt of theirs that said "Enjoy Corruption, you can't beat the stealing" was about CocaCola.

Posted by: Paddy [TypeKey Profile Page] on August 11, 2005 9:23 AM

you're confusing greed with social conscience and seem to expect others to have the same sensitivities as you, a sign of hubris

Posted by: bob visco on August 11, 2005 10:22 AM

..."Americans misunderstand the rest of the world.

However the t-shirt was no more about SAB than another t-shirt of theirs that said "Enjoy Corruption, you can't beat the stealing" was about CocaCola."

Paddy did you even take 5 minutes to to flip through the Laugh Off site? The shirt, in question, which went to the Supreme Court, 2x, was in fact, the SAB mock shirt. 'The t-shirts took South African Breweries' Carling Black Label brand and parodied it printing "Black labor, white guilt."

And it was specifically about SAB and their treatment of black workers and intense marketing efforts to black miners. How off marks does that sound?

So what was the misunderstanding?

Posted by: Bucky da ANIMAL on August 11, 2005 10:58 AM

I think the fact that i am white South African living in South Africa gives me a better perspective.

The only reason that the SAB case went all the way to the Constitutional Court after going through High court and court of appeals is because no other company took laughitoff to court. Granted it was a stupid error on SAB's part because the court cases did far more damage than the t-shirt.

The t-shirt on its own was no different than any other of the multitude of t-shirts that they produced. The fact that i own 2 of them allows me to say that.

And BTW can you please explain what you mean by their treatment of black workers, can you give more details. I am sure everyone whould like to read some facts rather than opinion.

Posted by: Paddy [TypeKey Profile Page] on August 11, 2005 2:13 PM

Yep multinational corporations have skeletons in their closets.
Companies don't get that big without getting dirty.
Bucky Turco, do some digging, bet you'll find exploitation in every one of them.
Moral decisions are made daily in our lives. Some are small.
Some not small.
It's business.
Just think about what it means to lay-off thousands of people. Thousands.
How does that effect those families?
Happens every day.
Sad and true.
It's easy to cast stones.
It's harder to eat them.
Do good.
Help the 2 million people in New York City
who are in need hunger relief. Give to your local food bank.
Owen Plotkin says so.

Posted by: owen plotkin on August 12, 2005 9:58 AM

Yes you are right Mr. Plotkin. Seek and ye shall find dirt. But keep in mind that wasn't the intent of this post. It was rather a lesson for brands (and this one is on the house)to be learned. It was more of an example of how Miller, who in the first place has never done anything real in regards to urban marketing and is more of a frat brand, just jumps into the mix and is kind of like a duck in the water before the SAB history even comes to light. Add the SAB overlay, and some very conscious black rappers and a potential train wreck is just lurking around the corner. So it's a sort of irony from the get. But as I have chosen this field and take with it all the good and bad, I have come to understand which dance to dance with the devil.

Posted by: Bucky da ANIMAL on August 12, 2005 12:55 PM

Yes Mr. Turco,
but those frat boys drinkin' Miller?
They love hip hop.
That's -
"acknowledgment of the influence, and pivotal role that urban music has played in shaping popular culture."
- right ?

Posted by: owen plotkin on August 12, 2005 10:47 PM

Yes they may love hip hop. But conscious rap? Doubt it.

Posted by: Bucky on August 14, 2005 1:26 AM

Woah, you have your facts very wrong. Laugh It Off's shirt was a general pun and not intended as slander against SAB. If it were, SAB would have won the case. It was simple parody. First National Bank suffered under the First National Bankie t-shirt (a 'bankie' is a plastic bank pouch usually used for change, except in this case it's stuffed with marijuana - yeah, we get our weed in little pouches :). Did that imply that FNB are all pot smokers? No. (incidentally, FNB bought over 1,000 of the shirts for their staff.)

Something you forgot to mention: during the Apartheid era SAB pushed the rules as far as it could in terms of multiracial advertising. Several of SAB's ads were banned because they didn't fit the government's ideal of segragation.

Why don't you criticise Coke's involvement with music stars? I recall that during Apartheid here you could still buy Coke - despite the sanctions. Clearly it didn't care about oppressed people.

Posted by: Gabbahead on August 16, 2005 1:22 PM

i think Laugh it Off rocks!!and the t-shirts as well, u just have to find the humour in it and then...well just laught-it-off!!

Posted by: smah on October 20, 2005 4:19 AM