Adi­das deal puts Kanye West in a cham­pi­ons league of his own

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION - Brian Boyd on mu­sic bboyd@irish­times.com

Two ma­jor me­dia events took place last Satur­day. Kanye West mar­ried Kim Kar­dashian in Florence, and Real Madrid beat Atlético Madrid in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in Lis­bon. There is an im­por­tant con­nec­tion. Just as Kanye got up to give his speech, Adi­das was pre­mier­ing its swanky new World Cup video dur­ing the half-time ad break for the big game.

The Dream: All In or Noth­ing is a slick, im­pres­sive video, di­rected by the ac­claimed Fer­nando Meirelles (City of God) and fea­tur­ing a foot­balling A-list of Adi­das “am­bas­sadors”. Lionel Messi falls asleep and dreams of glory while Luis Suarez, Dani Alves, Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger, Robin van Per­sie and Me­sut Ozil all look sweaty and fo­cused.

The promo clip for the so-called “Adi­das World Cup” has a mas­sive global reach, and it fea­tures a new track by Kanye West, God Level, on the sound­track. It’s a mar­ket­ing dream. The man at the wed­ding of the year re­leas­ing a new track for a promo for the sport­ing event of the year; events in Florence and Lis­bon were seam­lessly linked by the Adi­das dol­lar.

Kanye is the man of the mo­ment, and Adi­das get­ting his first new track since last year’s Yeezus (and on his wed­ding day!) is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it helps the com­pany mop up the “non-soc­cer” de­mo­graphic.

Kanye used to be signed to Nike, and he made the com­pany a for­tune through his Air Yeezy sneaker line. But Nike wouldn’t pay him roy­al­ties on each sneaker sale, so Adi­das moved in – Man City style – by of­fer­ing a £10 mil­lion sign­ing fee plus roy­al­ties.

Adi­das knows mu­sic: as far back as 1986 the com­pany saw the ris­ing hip-hop/fash­ion tide and signed Run DMC to a $1 mil­lion deal. It also just signed Phar­rell Wil­liams. Both he and West are ex­pected to have new Adi­das prod­uct in the shops be­fore the World Cup be­gins.

Lest we for­get the new song it­self, God Level is drum-heavy with scant lyrics, sim­i­lar in feel to Black Skin­head. The full ver­sion will be re­leased just be­fore – you guessed it – the launch of the World Cup.

There was a time (do tell, Grand­dad) when the crass­ness of a cred­i­ble mu­si­cal artist re­leas­ing a song to do the shill for a sports­wear com­pany would have at­tracted scorn and de­ri­sion. But West en­tered into the mu­sic mar­ket­place just as the ceil­ing was fall­ing in. He’s clued-in enough to know that, these days, a pair of limited-edi­tion, celebrity-de­signed and en­dorsed sneak­ers has more pop cul­ture im­pact than a bunch of tinny MP3 down­loads.

As some mea­sure of how hip-hop idols have now im­pacted on the sport­ing mer­chan­dise world, Nike – which is fu­ri­ous with the ex­po­sure Kanye is get­ting for Adi­das – has now ditched its rather quaint pol­icy of hir­ing ac­tual ath­letes to promo its wares.

When Kanye left on that big­money trans­fer, Nike im­me­di­ately signed up Drake as its new brand am­bas­sador. Drake may be a huge and im­pres­sive name, but he has nowhere near the celebrity wattage of Kanye West.

Just re­mem­ber: the “Adi­das World Cup” is be­ing brought to you in as­so­ci­a­tion with Kanye West.

Kim’n’Kanye in Florence: not just a wed­ding to cel­e­brate

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