Marketing Lessons from Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and Jay-Z

Game 5. NBA Finals.

The Miami Heat were toying with my heart, going into the break trailing 61-52. Thinking that maybe it was time to hit the sack, Twitter started blowing up. “The Next Big Thing” had arrived:

Since then, music fans and marketers alike have been buzzing about the Samsung x Jay-Z collaboration. But what was it that made it so great? In a time when sponsorships, endorsements and collaborative deals are ridiculously common, it seems Jay-Z the Business Man has been taking notes and using others for practise on the art of being timely.

Justin Timberlake

Justin reminded us you don’t have to produce music every year to remain relevant (Sorry Rihanna.) Six years after FutureSex/Love Sounds, JT decided it was time for his 3rd studio album. But instead of the standard promo tour of radio and chat show appearances, Mr Timberlake chose a different way to tell us He is Ready. It helps when you part own a music based social network, but choosing to relaunch MySpace at the same time as debuting his lead single? Genius. Together with Timbaland and Jay-Z (Whoop! There he is again!) Suit & Tie became the smooth R&B hit to kick the year off.

The only grey spot in the midst of all of this was Justin’s interesting appointment as Creative Director of Bud Light in February. Although this led to a cool ad campaign with the beer, the product and brand didn’t really fit the smooth sounds and brand image that Timberlake has created. Despite the poor performance of the beer, the 20/20 Experience was loved by fans and critics, creating musical art that matched the epicness of his well-timed campaign.


The only person to eclipse Justin during this time was Beyonce. It all started with THAT GQ photoshoot… and article, which was swiftly followed by the controversial lip-sync for The President and the Pepsi-sponsored Superbowl performance, thus kicking off the 2-month countdown to The Mrs Carter World Tour. In between the two? Just a collaborative effort with the second biggest fashion brand in the world. The strategic partnership between H&M and Beyonce merely contributed to cementing Mrs Carter as THE pop icon of her generation.

But even Queen B can do wrong. Her 5th album, which was meant to complement her tour, got pushed back from April to supposedly November due to negative feedback on the lead singles. In all honesty, that makes the placement of everything she has done since January all the more impressive. As a casual observer, I had even forgotten that the album had gone missing. The timeliness of her schedule made it feel like she hadn’t missed a beat. Whether she was Chiming for Change or visiting Cuba, to the unobservant eye, Beyonce has done and will do no wrong for some time to come.


Which brings us right back to where we started. Except Jay-Z didn’t really start there. Whether Jay-Z was casually strolling through South America (and rapping about it afterwards), producing the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby, or starting a player agency business with some of the brightest stars in the world, Jay-Z has displayed PR and brand building abilities a lot closer to Steve Jobs than his friend. (Sorry Yeezus).

Then, just when you forgot that Hip Hop is Jay-Z’s staple, he let us know that The Next Big Thing has arrived. And he let us know how we can get involved. Instead of just giving us something to talk about, he used the $20 million deal with Samsung to control the conversation. Jay-Z has written the new rules. So at the end of the game when most would have normally overanalysed LeBron James’ lacklustre performance (Lets not dwell on it guys) – Jay-Z was solidifying his place in Pop culture history.

So when is Yeezus and Born Sinner coming out again?

When marketing anything, timing is just as much part of the battle as the quality and appropriateness of the product being displayed to the world. A lesson Jay-Z has definitely taken on board and one that every Entrepreneur and Marketer needs to ingrain into their thinking.

And Finally…

I know I haven’t written for 2 months, but life doesn’t stop for anyone. One of the things I have been busy with is The Creative Circle  and I could really do with your help. We are in the running for The Think BIG Business Competiton and if you could >>>VOTE<<<<  that would be great. To find out more about what we do, visit our website or check out the video below.

Until next time, I’ll be praying that LeBron brings his A game and a Championship to the Miami Heat.




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