Interview starts at 19:07
Part three of the second csuitepodcast that I recorded in Cannes Lions was probably my favourite interview this year at Cannes, as I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with two truly inspiration gentlemen – Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer, Young Guru, and talent manager and entrepreneur Jerald Cooper. Guru is best known as Jay-Z’s personal music engineer and has been described by The Wall Street Journal as ‘the most influential man in hip hop that you have never heard of’. He had just taken part in a panel discussion organised by FleishmanHillard titled ‘Talking Tunes and Human Truths’ that took place in the ICCO House of PR, where they discussed how music effects people and how to become and remain authentic to what you are doing – he feels that authenticity is a huge part of advertising, PR and marketing. He also said they talked about the challenges of choices you have to make when dealing with PR in terms of issues you may want to represent and how you can best do that, as well as how agencies can work with the creatives [music artists] they want to use. We therefore continued that discussion in our podcast interview, but also got on to chat about their own project called ‘Era of the Engineer’.
In terms of how brands are working with musicians, Guru explained that it’s very different now – it’s no longer about assuming if you align your product with an artist, then the artist’s fan base will move to that product. Instead, the fan base needs a reason to like the product and so the product has to fit into the life of who those people are. It’s therefore not about choosing the biggest artist to fit with your brand but the most effective.
Guru said that now is an important time for artists to be working with brands, particularly as the music industry has changed, with album sales that artists used to rely on not as large anymore due to the internet. However, he said the artist has taken the album out of the centre of the circle and replaced it with themselves as the brand. He therefore believes connecting with companies that can represent or support your brand as an artist is great, but those companies still have to coincide with the ethos of what you are as an artist.
When discussing how Young Guru works with brands himself, Jerald added that one of the key aspects in choosing who you work with is ‘purpose’, both on the brand and artist side. In fact, he sees it as a trend where he feels that in the next three years, there won’t be a marketing campaign without purpose, which lead nicely onto the subject of Guru and Jerald’s own pet project, ‘Era of the Engineer’.
As a young black male growing up, Guru said that he was into engineering, wanting to know how things were built and constructed, but it was hard to get his friends involved as it was something that was seen as uncool and nerdy. His plan, therefore, with ‘Era of the Engineer’ is to make tall types of engineering cool – not just musical engineering and the draw of working with the highest paid artists, but the understanding that everything has been engineered.
He gave examples, that, as he described, may not be seen as sexy, but running the sound at the McDonalds Drive Through has to be engineered and it’s a job that pays! Therefore, whilst he can draw kids in through his involvement in the music industry, he can then show them all types of engineering. He said that at the moment, coding is the biggest thing and that everyone wants to invent an app, sell it and be the next Mark Zuckerberg, yet there are countries that need infrastructure. and that we will need people who know how to build roads and maintain them. He feels that whilst coding is important and is the language of the future, we need all other types of engineers – we live in a physical world, so we need people who know how to build the physical things, be that roads or the spaceship that’s going to go to Mars. He added that it is all very nice to make the next app that is sold for millions of dollars but it is rare to achieve that, just like only 10% of people make it as professional sports people.
Jerald added that it will be hard for anyone to try and identify something that has not been engineered and so entering into engineering via sports or any part of culture makes it cool.
Guru and Jerald therefore want to change the culture – they want it to be important to know the facts, to get to the stage where your friends will think you are weird if you don’t know this information. For example, even if you are into fashion, the machines that make the clothes have been engineered, and if you think into the future, you’ll need engineering to make the 3d printers that can make shirts or sneakers.
You can find out more information about Young Guru and Jerald Coopers’ project on the website – eraoftheengineer.com.
The Cannes Lions episodes of the csuitepodcast were sponsored by Capstone Hill Search.
Thanks to ICCO for allowing us to carry out the interviews in their House of PR.
All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the website, Soundcloud, itunes and TuneIn. There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion. Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!