Snoop Dogg: From Gangster Rapper to Global Brand Icon


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Ain't Nuthin But a "Brand" Thing

Snoop Dogg started out as a gangster rapper but over his 3 decade career, he has managed to become known as much, if not more, for his brand partnerships than his music. So what makes Snoop such a great brand ambassador? In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses what makes Snoop Dogg such a great global brand icon and what to look for in a celebrity partner.

Snoop Dogg From Gangster Rapper to Global Brand Icon

From Gangster Rapper to Global Brand Icon

This past November, Snoop Doog made headlines when he posted on Twitter that he was giving up smoke. Big news for a guy who’s brand is so closely associated with smoking marijuana. The coverage on this announcement wasn’t just in Rolling Stone or in the land of X (Twitter) but on the evening news on broadcast TV networks. We quickly came to find that this was a brand partnership that Snoop had been paid to do with Solo Stove who specialize in smokeless fire pits. While the folks at Solo Stove may now be claiming this partnership was a fail, which we will cover, the coverage got me thinking that Snoop Dogg may be one of the greatest brand spokespeople ever. In this blog, we dive into Snoop Dogg’s journey from gangster rapper to global brand icon.

SNoop's Gangster Rap roots: A Tale Of Authenticity and Grit

In the annals of hip-hop history, Snoop Dogg stands as a towering figure, a musician who has not only shaped the sound of the genre but also redefined the role of a rapper. Somewhere along the way, however, Snoop managed to change the perception the public had of him from gangster rapper to mainstream talent who had brand appeal. His journey to his present-day ubiquity as a laid-back, family-friendly brand ambassador is a testament to both his adaptability and his shrewd understanding of the cultural landscape.

Snoop burst onto the scene in the early 1990s as a protégé of Dr. Dre, who knows a thing or two about breaking a brand himself (anyone here not hear of Beats?). His smooth, laid-back flow and West Coast G-funk sound became an instant hit. This was a period when gangsta rap held sway over the music scene. Snoop’s debut album, "Doggystyle," released in 1993, marked a watershed moment, introducing the world to Snoop's unique style and lyrical prowess. His music was raw, gritty, and unapologetically real, a reflection of the harsh realities of life in Long Beach, California.

Snoop Dogg's lyrics, often infused with tales of street life, gang violence, and social commentary, resonated with a generation grappling with issues of poverty, inequality, and discrimination. His music served as a voice for the voiceless, giving a platform to those often marginalized by society but certainly limited his brand appeal at the time to brands like streetwear clothing company Stüssy and CBD brand Chronic Candy. While these types of brand partnerships were fantastic fits at the time to reach a common audience, the controversial lyrics that Snoop was rapping were also limiting the types of brands that he could work with.

Snoop Dogg's Brand Partnerships and Endorsements: A Journey of Evolution

The late 1990s and early 2000s marked a pivotal period in Snoop Dogg's career. He began to shed his gangster rap persona, and began embracing a more approachable and versatile image. This transition was evident in his music, in his newfound acting roles, and in his brand partnerships, which increasingly focused on mainstream products and services.

Musically, he began to distance himself from his gangster image, exploring reggae and funk influences in his music and showcasing a more playful, humorous side. He started to appear on tracks with pop artists like Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. At the same time, he began to embrace a more laid-back, family-friendly image on screen. In the early 2000s, Snoop started appearing in mainstream films like "Training Day" and "Starsky & Hutch", which broadened his appeal and showcased his comedic timing and acting chops. As Snoop Dogg's star ascended, so did the attention of brands seeking his endorsement. Those early partnerships with like Stüssy and Chronic Candy reflected the authenticity of his music and the connection he held with his core audience at the time. But now, mainstream brands like Chrysler, Adidas, Pepsi, and even Skechers started knocking on his door. These brands, and many others, realized that Snoop had a natural ability to connect with a broader audience beyond hip-hop. These partnerships demonstrated his understanding of the power of branding and marketing, and his ability to adapt to the evolving consumer landscape and to grow with his core audience.

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Today, Snoop Dogg stands as a global brand ambassador, with a diverse portfolio of endorsement deals that span various industries. His partnerships include collaborations with Corona, Tumi Luggage, Pistachios and even his own varietal of 19 Crimes wine. His partnership with Skechers has been ongoing for 14 years now and he has also ventured into partnerships with Martha Stewart for a line of cooking products and with Beyond Meat for a line of plant-based burgers. These collaborations highlight his willingness to explore new avenues and connect with audiences that share his passion for food and sustainability.

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Snoop and Solo Stove: What Went Right and Wrong


Photo: Solo Stove

So with all the success Snoop has had countless brand partnerships, it makes you wonder why, in January of 2024, did Solo Stove see their campaign with Snoop as a failure and cost their CEO his job? Let’s look at a few of the reasons. First, the brand didn’t see the spike in sales that they were anticipating. It’s important to remember when looking for a brand ambassador that at the core it’s going to come down to your product. I obviously don’t know what the sales projections were for Solo Stove but no matter how good your celebrity partner is at selling products, make sure your expectations fit your brand category. It was highly unlikely that even Snoop was going to move as many Solo Stoves as he might have moved for 19 Crimes wine given the niche audience looking for a fire pit. Second, was Snoop ultimately the right brand ambassador for this product? While I think the campaign was incredibly smart and obviously garnered huge buzz but at the end of the day, how many people associate Snoop with outdoor activities? The brand spokesperson you choose should feel authentic to the brand. The public is smarter than ever when it comes to authenticity from celebrities so maybe there was a better option out there. If you take a look at Solo Stove’s Instagram, the rest of their feed is showcasing people camping and grilling, not exactly what I think of when I think of Snoop. Lastly, from what I can tell, there was nothing more to the campaign. Solo Stove spent a lot of money on this campaign and gained a ton of brand recognition but it feels like there was no plan for what to do next. When you create a “moment” in pop culture, you need to capitalize on it and make sure you have your next move ready to go because if you don’t, the flame on your campaign can go out faster than turning off a Solo Stove.

Snoop Dogg - A Legacy of Innovation and Inspiration

Snoop Dogg's impact on the world of brand partnerships is undeniable. He has shattered stereotypes and redefined the role of a rapper in the world of marketing. His success has paved the way for other musicians to pursue lucrative endorsement deals, demonstrating the power of celebrity influence and the potential for cross-industry collaborations. His story serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs and creatives, demonstrating that success can be achieved through authenticity, innovation, and a willingness to embrace change. There are very few artists who have mastered the art of brand partnerships the way Snoop has and for the right brands, I am confident he will continue to deliver for years to come.

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