Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The New Jazz Philosophy: Corporate game theory?

The Roots - Game Theory

By Jonah Nadir Omowale
Published in The Michigan Citizen

In early June, I received an email from my man, Imhotep, announcing that The Kool New Jazz Philosophy Tour, featuring The Roots, Talib Kweli and The Pharcyde, was coming to Detroit’s State Theatre on August 3.

This promised to be a great show featuring artists at the pinnacle of what some derisively call “backpack hip hop.”“Backpack” is a thinking person’s brand of non-mainstream music—most often followed by urban and suburban hipsters or bohemian college students (backpacks in tow). In the 1950s they would have been “beatniks” scouring downtown coffeehouses and uptown jazz clubs in search of the latest poetry or the hottest bebop. In the early 21st century they can be found scouring downtown coffeehouses in search of the latest poetry or digging through the racks of used cd stores.

It is only natural that R.J. Reynolds would tap artists who appeal to this demographic when promoting Kool cigarettes. Imhotep recalled, “If you are an old head like I am, you might remember Kool using jazz in the eighties. I remember seeing ads that gave the impression: ‘If you [are] “Kool” like the jazz cats then you smoke Kool cigs.’”

From a marketing standpoint, “backpack” has become “the new jazz”, at least in terms of the young, hip, audience that consumes the music. A flyer received at the show sums up Kool’s “New Jazz Philosophy” like this: “It’s about self-expression without boundaries; fusing diverse cultures; music in all forms; creativity and passion.”

“It’s all about ‘experiential marketing,’ says Lauren Hood, former Metro Detroit market manager for Media Star Promotions, the company that runs The New Jazz Philosophy tour for R.J. Reynolds. “That’s the new term. You’re supposed to have a good experience with the brand and subliminally you’ll want to purchase it.”

Read More HERE


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