Rappers turned entrepreneurs are the newest thing in the alcohol business. Take Pitbull with his Voli vodka, Sean “Diddy” Combs with his Ciroc vodka, and Ludacris and Snoop Dogg’s push for cognac in their mixtapes and music videos. (Read more on celebrity endorsed alcohol.)
“Last year Ludacris released the mixtape ‘A Hustler’s Spirit’ centered on his Conjure cognac, with interludes serving as commercials,” wrote the L.A. Times. “Snoop Dogg, who pushes Landy cognac and a controversial malt liquor by Colt 45 called Blast, released a music video for the fruit-flavored, high-alcohol concoctions.”
According to Newser.com, Diddy even went as far as to attack a club-goer who drank Grey Goose instead of his brand after hundreds of tweets about Ciroc. Since 2007, Combs has been an equal-share owner as well as a ruthless promoter of the brand. The L.A. Times recently reported that “Combs even refers to himself as ‘Ciroc Obama’ and created his own ‘Diddy’ cocktail.”
“Rap music and alcohol are a natural fit, and the aggressive campaigning works: Ciroc sold just 98,000 cases in 2007, but 795,000 in 2010 after Diddy got involved—and it should hit 1 million by the end of this year,” reported Newser.com. “As for Pitbull’s vodka, the company’s chief executive says it has seen ‘multiple hundred percent growths over the year before he arrived.’” According to the L.A. Times:
A study released just weeks ago from the University of Pittsburgh and Dartmouth University found that for every hour that American teens listen to music, they hear more than three references to brand-name alcohol in rap/R&B/hip-hop lyrics. Brand associations have long been a symbol of status for performers. But Pitbull, like his contemporaries ‘Diddy’, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg and many others, have now taken it to the next level. Instead of just making references to the products they enjoy, they’re rapping about products they’re selling.
“[Voli] gave me a great opportunity to be an owner of a brand that I really believed in,” Pitbull (Armando Christian Perez) told the L.A. Times of becoming part owner of the line of low-calorie fruit and self-dubbed “it” drink in March. “That’s why I got involved with Voli. It’s in a market where it’s needed and everybody wants it.”
Apparently celebrity-endorsed drinks have also benefited club venues as well. According to Rob Vinokus, manager of the upscale Hollywood Playhouse, “Jay-Z has this thing with Ace of Spades champagne. So because of that … sales are pretty high. There are celebrities that have raps talking about Moët Rosé, so that has a lot of sales for us.”