The Business of Culture:
Steve Stoute in Conversation with Gayle King
In the marketing and advertising world where trends and strategies evolve at a rapid pace, the concept of cultural capital has emerged as a compelling force that can drive unparalleled impact. In a thought-provoking conversation at POSSIBLE 2023 between industry titan Steve Stoute and media personality Gayle King, the pair discussed how the essence of cultural capital extends beyond mere celebrity endorsements and delves deeper into the shared values that connect cultural influencers and brands, leading to transformative shifts in consumer behavior and brand perception.
Stoute’s ingenious approach to branding becomes evident in his role in the successful redefinition of Reebok’s image. Stoute recognized that aligning a brand with an influencer should transcend surface level connections. His choice of Jay-Z as spokesperson for Reebok’s sneakers wasn’t about athletic prowess; it was about embracing the shared value of looking good. The strategic partnership marked a turning point where culture’s impact on consumer preferences outweighed traditional demographic targeting.
Don’t run from it, run towards it.
– Steve Stoute
The conversation also underscored the changing dynamics of demographics in the modern marketing landscape. It’s no longer enough to rely solely on demographic data. Cultural capital allows brands to tap into a broader spectrum of shared values that resonate across diverse audiences. Likewise, the speed of influence cannot be underestimated. Lil Nas X’s meteoric rise from obscurity to fame within a year showcases the velocity at which cultural influencers can reshape trajectories. This is an example of why brands need to adapt swiftly to cultural shifts and seize timely opportunities.
In essence, Stoute’s insights emphasize the importance of strategic partnerships based on shared values. These partnerships go beyond conventional endorsements, forming a bridge between brands and cultural influencers that resonates deeply with consumers and can be a testament for harnessing the true power of cultural capital in modern marketing and advertising.
Here are 5 key takeaways on consumer behavior and brand perception from Steve Stoute’s conversation with Gayle King at POSSIBLE 2023:
Cultural Capital’s Impact
The concept of cultural capital has emerged as a powerful force in shaping brand perception and consumer behavior. Aligning a brand with cultural influencers who share values can lead to significant shifts in consumer attitudes and spending patterns. It’s not only about celebrity endorsements, but also about finding individuals whose cultural influence resonates with the brand’s essence.
Shared Values Drive Impact
Successful partnerships between brands and cultural figures stem from shared values rather than superficial associations. When Jay–Z (a low-movement artist) became the face of Reebok sneakers, the focus shifted from performance to aesthetics. This shared value of looking good, rather than athletic prowess, led to the brand’s success and the birth of celebrity-endorsed products.
Changing Dynamics of Demographics
Traditional demographic targeting has evolved. Cultural capital transcends demographics, making it essential for marketers to understand and tap into shared values that cut across diverse audiences. The decline of demography as a sole indicator emphasizes the importance of cultural fit in brand partnerships.
Speed of Influence
The speed of influence in modern culture can rapidly reshape brands and artists’ trajectories. Social media enables artists like Lil Nas X to catapult from obscurity to stardom in a short period. Brands must adapt to the fast pace of cultural shifts and leverage timely opportunities to harness the momentum created by cultural influencers.
Genuine strategic partnerships between brands and cultural influencers are crucial. The success of collaborations lies in the exact fit between the brand’s essence and the influencer’s cultural impact. Brands must ensure that these partnerships authentically reflect the shared values, beliefs, and aspirations of both parties.
2023 Speaker Highlight
Steve Stoute is an advertising entrepreneur and music industry pioneer. The founder and CEO of both UnitedMasters and Translation, Stoute was named Executive of the Year by Ad Age in 2013. With funding from Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz and 21st Century Fox, Stoute’s companies operate at the intersection of technology, culture, innovation and storytelling.
UnitedMasters is a revolutionary platform that enables artists to operationalize and maximize their creative and economic potential while allowing them to maintain full ownership over their master recording rights. Translation is a leading agency bringing together award-winning creative and insights to connect brands to culture. Translation works with some of today’s leading brands including State Farm, AT&T, NBA, and Kaiser Permanente. The two companies come together to offer a unique brand to culture platform that leverages cultural insights to connect brands to audiences in a new, sophisticated way.
Prior to founding Translation in 2004, Stoute was a music industry executive at Sony Music and Interscope Geffen A&M. He produced albums for Mariah Carey and Nas, led the production efforts for Gwen Stefani and Enrique Iglesias, and executive produced the Academy Award-winning 8 Mile film and soundtrack.
POSSIBLE is a premier marquee event created by Beyond Ordinary Events, Inc., that is curated specifically for the greater marketing ecosystem, including brands, technology, digital, media, culture, and more. The inaugural event took place in April 2023 and just announced its return for April 15-17, 2024 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. POSSIBLE is directed to future-thinking marketers and offers innovation and emerging technologies and an opportunity to network with industry peers, share ideas, and discuss mutual challenges. POSSIBLE offers curated content including masterclasses, workshops, an exposition, VIP programming, and entertainment. The SMARTIES awards have been integrated into POSSIBLE to complete the immersive experience. Conceived and created by Christian Muche (Co-Founder, DMEXCO), POSSIBLE is a centerpiece for the entire marketing and media community.