Digital & Social Media

Rappers and Brands Serve Up Beef


What Happened: On July 21, rapper Meek Mill called out fellow rapper Drake on Twitter for (allegedly) not penning his own rhymes. What ensued was a days-long Twitter feud that resulted in two new freestyle singles from Drake, a crisis PR professional’s advice for Meek Mill and several funny memes. Because the feud unfolded on public platforms, brands saw an opportunity to join the fun. White Castle, Rosetta Stone and Eggland’s Best are only a few of the brands that entered the conversation. But it was Whataburger that came away as the clear winner, with seven tweets that were retweeted a total of 165,000 times, with one tweet even making it on to the big screen during Drake’s performance at the OVO Festival in Toronto.

What This Means for Brands: Rap feuds are not a new phenomenon, and neither is a brand inserting itself into a social media conversation. This particular feud between Drake and Meek Mill, however, can serve as a lesson to brands on how to effectively use cultural events as a marketing tool. Many of the tweets from brands trying to enter the feud fell flat because they were either too obvious or too much of a stretch. For Rosetta Stone and Eggland’s Best, providing commentary on this event didn’t seem like a natural extension of their brands. On the other hand, for Whataburger, commenting on “beef” seems much more organic. Whataburger’s tweets were also effective because they contained the right combination of humor, hip hop knowledge and timeliness. When Drake came out with a new single dissing Meek Mill called “Back to Back,” Whataburger tweeted that Meek Mill might need to eat his feelings with “#BacktoBack” Whataburger after listening to it. And when Drake dropped a line in the song that says, “Trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers,” Whataburger tweeted a picture of their chicken fingers with the caption “Chicken fingers turn to Twitter fingers.”

Using cultural events, like rap feuds, to engage more potential customers can be a good idea if you pick the right event and execute effectively. In this case, humor, cultural knowledge and timeliness won out.