Product Placement Elevated By Kanye West and Balmain

 Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sacred Heart Church

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Sacred Heart Church

I watched the new Kanye video/ Balmain ad and I liked it. It was not like so many other artist’s generic music videos. I was actually interested in it. I may be biased: thrilling visuals, diverse models in beautiful clothes walking in slow motion all set in black and white is so, so, so my jelly. Plus, Sia was featured. A Wooooooooh.

The video for Wolves is a tight concept and blurs lifestyle segments of fashion, music, and celebrity. This is where society is at right now, cha? Smudging the lines of what each category is and challenging what it can be. I argue that today fashion is an integral part of music. To hammer it home, a musician’s role in fashion has never been more pronounced. For those who play the game well – Kanye, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga - it’s developed into quite the thriving ecosystem.

Let’s take a step back shall we. It wasn’t that long ago that clothing was merely on the artist in music videos. The logos were deliberately blurred out in editing if rights to use had not been negotiated in advance. Since the 80s product placement within entertainment became a deliberate part of the financing of projects.

Think Sex and The City’s Carrie's "Big" proposal with those blue Manolos was a fluke? Or that the iconic Ray Bans on Tom Cruise in Risky Business just happened to be there? Nope. Paid product placement. Prior to that if a brand was worn in the movie, it may have been simply using it a prop, no strings attached.

To be clear, product placement is not a bad thing in my mind. Why wouldn’t we link consumers to the brands that their favourite artists love? Or why wouldn’t we encourage the collaboration between art and commerce? Some may call this selling out. If done “right” I call it strategic.

What does “right” and “wrong” look like? Say for instance an artist promotes something “off” brand. Maybe if Kanye was promoting mountain ready camping equipment that may be more of a disconnect. AKA: wrong. “Wrong” because camping in Kananaskis does not seem like a genuine interest of Kanye’s. (Another example of "off brand" is Taylor Swift playing a victim to the public, but encourages an artist behind the scenes to tell a story from their personal point of view. Positioning herself as publicly bewildered but secretly savvy. I don’t care that she did it, I care that she isn’t owning up that she’s a boss that did it. Own it!) I digress.

When I look at collaborations with my critical eye I am looking for fit. I ask myself, “Is what this person or brand told me make sense with this other person or brand?” In this case, Balmain and Kayne and his extended family have been collaborating for a while now. They are all over each other’s social media. Kayne and the Kardashians wear Balmain clothing to this past years’ Met Gala, and they helped Olivier Rousteing promote the Balmain x H&M collection. This is a flourished relationship. They just took it to another level.

Again, I like it. It works. In this case, I’m not negatively critical, tears and all. Kayne has been straightforwardly aggressive and unapologetic about what and who he likes. He’s good at selling. 

I think that blending music and fashion may even elevate both art forms because helps to solidify the already strong profile of both brands. If you’re more tuned into fashion, you learn about Kanye and crew. If you are into Kanye, you get exposed to Balmain. It’s what my biology teacher would have said is a symbiotic relationship.