Advertising in Song Lyrics


Song lyrics are an exciting new/emerging media used for advertising purposes. When and if popular musical artists mention a brand name in their lyrics the brand receives advertising like no other. People may see advertisements in newspapers, magazines, on television, or on the internet, but hearing a particular product being mentioned in a song is a unique and effective way to advertise.

Reasons For Using

The music industry in a multi-billion dollar industry, and people of all ages, races, and demographics listen to music. Many people listen to music daily as part of their life whether it be at home, in the car, alone, or with friends as music is a large part of society. One can listen to music anywhere with a portable music player and songs can be downloaded or accessed with the touch of a button with today’s technology. Music is a great way to promote products. "Pretty much as soon as there was such a thing as a music industry (and such a thing as an advertising industry), music was employed to sell."[2] Even if a song is downloaded illegally, the advertiser's message is still delivered to the consumer.[6]
Chris Brown's hit song "Forever" was an extended version of a Doublemint ad
Chris Brown's hit song "Forever" was an extended version of a Doublemint ad

Limitations of Use

When companies or brands choose to pay certain artists money to mention their brand or product how effective is it really and how can it be measured? Which artists should a company choose to promote their brand? Can using a controversial artist backfire? How much are companies willing to pay and how do they determine how to pay the artist? These are all important questions companies must ask before deciding whether or not to use artists to mention their products in songs.

The Kluger Agency specializes in getting product placements in song lyrics and music videos. Adam Kluer of the Kluger agency said that one of the main limitations in this media is that artist must approve the products that they endorce. Kluger said, "Any brand can buy a spot on television, but you can't do that with music. I have a room in Miami filled with products on the waiting list to appear in videos. Some brands are not good enough- the artist don't like them- so we shelve them and wait for an artist who does." [6]

Rapper T.I. was endorsed by Cheverolet and was even featured in commercials until he was arrested on multiple gun charges. When T.I. got out of jail he was seen in his new music video driving the new Dodge Challenger, a rival to Chevy.

Costs of Advertising

Much of the costs of advertising in song lyrics are unknown. Most artists do not come forward publicly or even admit to receiving money for mentioning products and brand names in songs. Artists that own their own companies and brands however can receive an enormous amount of publicity and attention all for free by advertising in their songs. Adam Kluger, estimates that he brokers about 70 deals a year that range between $50,000 and up to over a million dollars in "brand dropping" and video product placement.[6]

Reach and Frequency

The reach and frequency of advertisements in song lyrics depends on particular songs’ popularity. Specific songs may reach upwards of hundreds of millions of listeners. "Of the estimated sixty billion broadcast advertising hours encountered by North Americans each year, approximately three-quarters employ music in some manner." [1]


Scheduling for song lyrics is continuous as songs are played throughout the year on the radio, and consumers can listen to any song anytime.


The impact of advertising in song lyrics can be tremendous. A song by Kanye West, Nas, Rakim, and KRS-One that Nike released was nominated for a Grammy Award for best rap performance by a duo or group. Every year there is a list of the top brands that are featured in lyrics in songs from the top 20 pop songs of each year called the “American Brandstand,” which was developed by Lucian James. [4]

The top ten brands of 2008 were 1. Nike, 2. Gulfstream (G5 jets), 3. Gucci , 4. Lamborghini, 5. Patron, 6. Hennessey, 7. Apple Bottom, 8. Cadillac, 9. Glock, 10. Reebok, 10. Louis Vuittton [4]

Busta Rhymes hit song “Pass the Courvoisier” changed the way deals are done. His chart-topper of 2003 helped Courvoisier’s parent company achieve a double-digit uptick in U.S. sales of top-shelf liquor. As a result France’s Allied Domecq reached a promotional deal with Rhymes’ management company at the time, Violator.

Audience Qualities

The general audience for songs is a wide variety of demographics. Different genres of music appeal more toward particular subcultures. The hip-hop culture tends to cling on to fads quickly and represents a younger generation so advertising in song lyrics could become quite lucrative for any sized company in a matter of no time.


Song lyrics can generate awareness of new products or brands. They can also spark up interest in older things that have been on the market for years. Music can also create action in people. “My President Is Black” by Young Jeezy featuring Nas came out months before the election and was the anthem for a youth movement in voting in the 2008 presidential election.

Interesting Qualities

Interesting qualities about advertising in song lyrics is that most of it is free and certain brands and products seem to be embraced more than others by artists. Artists are also creating their own brands and using songs to promote them. Examples include Diddy’s Ciroc Vodka and Sean Jean clothing, Jay-Z with Rocawear Clothing and Armadale Vodka, Eminem with Shady clothing, 50 Cent’s G-Unit clothing and Vitamin Water, Nelly’s AppleBottom jeans and NBA team Charlotte Bobcats, Jim Jones’ Nostic clothing, Kanye West’s Nike and Louis Vuitton shoes, T.I.’s Akoo clothing, Master P’s P Miller Clothing, Fabolous’ Rich Yung, Akon’s Konvict clothing, Busta Rhymes’ Bushi clothing, Lil Flip’s Lucky Nights liquor, the Diplomats’ Sizzurp liquor, and many more. Artists within the hip-hop community will embrace each other’s clothing lines and liquor companies and rap about them thus giving the businesses free publicity.

Advertisers Who are Successfully Using the Alternative/ Emerging Media

Many companies are profiting from having their brand being mentioned in song lyrics. The high- end vodka market was once dominated by Grey Goose and Belevedere, but now there’s competition. Ciroc Vodka, 50% owned by Sean”Diddy”Combs is on the rise. “Advertising Age just named Ciroc vodka one of America’s hottest brands.”[3]

Combs has helped Ciroc Vodka earn over 2 billion dollars in sales in 2008. Sales have climbed from 60,000 cases to over 400,000 cases from 2007 to 2009. [5]


[1] Huron.David. Musical Quarterly, Vol. 73, No. 4 (1989) pp.557-574

[2] McLaren.Carrie




[6] Russel, J. (2010, November 8). Advanced placement. Los Angeles Business Journel, p. WEB

[7]Montgomery, J. (2009, February 9). Doublemint suspends chris brown ad campaign. MTV Newws, Retrieved from