Don’t Call It a Campaign: ‘Hip-Hop Made Sprite What It Is’

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You don’t have to know who Millie Jackson is to celebrate hip-hop’s 50th anniversary.

The rulebook doesn’t demand that fans had to listen to the Jay-Z/Nas “Ether” battle on Hot 97, play “If I Could Go” in their car or hear half of New York’s rap royalty call her “Ma” to appreciate Angie Martinez. You don’t have to know why Kriss Kross wore their clothes backwards or how Goodie Mob, Fat Joe, Common, Mack-10 or Afrika Bambaataa formed Voltron.

You don’t have to get suburban schoolkids singing along to lyrics from your ad featuring Kurtis Blow—and recall them by heart well into middle age. 

None of the above is essential for appreciating half a century of hip-hop, which celebrates that milestone birthday on Aug. 11. But if you want to make deep connections between your brand and the culture without you having to call it “authentic,” all of the above helps.

This summer, Sprite celebrated hip-hop’s 50th by bringing back brand veterans Rakim and Nas (on the stoop he shared with AZ in ‘97, no less) and pairing them with more recent Sprite pitchwoman Latto (who played a pandemic-driven Live from the Label virtual show for Sprite in 2021) and breakout Memphis “F.N.F.” rapper GloRilla for a reworking of The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.”

The spots were created by 2022 Adweek Breakthrough Agency of the Year Majority, who’ve worked with Sprite on other campaigns amid its remarkably resilient rebrand of the last year.

The campaign also featured a partnership with Drake on his It’s All a Blur tour, merchandise drops (including Drake tickets) and a new Sprite flavor—the strawberry-infused Lymonade Legacy. While other brands like Adidas and Timberland can also trace a strong hip-hop lineage, Sprite is using its past work to help shape the culture’s future.

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