Rocawear’s History Of Innovative Advertising
Jay-Z has good reason to celebrate hard this year – it’s a milestone birthday for him and his Rocawear brand. He is now 40, Rocawear is 10.
When the brand first launched, there was actually no advertising involved. But there didn’t really need to be, with Jay being attached to it.
He rocked it in his videos, public appearances and on the streets.
“He was the best advertisement we could ever hope for,” said Jameel Spencer, chief marketing officer of Iconix Brand Group (who . “He started this brand off the success of the record label, and early on, we had so many priceless moments that advertising couldn’t provide. People believed in what he was doing musically, and it lent a level of authenticity when he appeared in the videos.”
Rocawear didn’t begin advertising until over a year after its launch.
With one of the first ads featuring supermodel Naomi Campbell and Victoria Beckham, Rocawear pushed the envelope as an urban brand. A few years ago, the brand took out a 15 page ad in Vanity Fair featuring huge stars like Kevin Bacon, and high fashion model Karolina Kurkova.
Kevin Bacon and Naomi Campbell
Photographer Mark Seliger has shot many of Rocawear’s campaigns, including one that consisted of following Jay to South Africa where looked at the global water crisis. Seliger photographed the him as local children followed him around.
“It was a Muhammad Ali type of moment,” said Spencer. “There were 400 kids surrounding him.”
“He was larger than life to them,” Seliger recalled.
At one point the brand shot a campaign called “I will not lose,” which featured video testimonials of people overcoming adversity, such as a newspaper editor from Virginia Tech after a campus shoot-out in 2007 that left 32 dead and dozens wounded.
We have visited the NYC Rocawear headquarters many times now, where all campaigns shot in the past 10 years or so are displayed in their “Rocawear Museum”.
To celebrate its 10th year, the brand debuted a TV commercial. Directed by none other than Spike Lee, and shot in Brooklyn’s Clock Tower Building, the ad eventually became a five minute short that BET and MTV ran.
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