Jay-Z and Samsung: Who won?

The newest partnership between the tech giant Samsung and the gargantuan Jay-Z elicits just one question in my mind: Who won? Of course, both have lots to gain in this situation, but who is coming out on top?


samsungWell, we can start with the obvious: the ‘cool’ factor. Samsung’s main competition has it, undeniably. Apple has been the choice for the cool crowd since the word ‘geek’ became synonymous with cool (or vice-versa, it’s a chicken and the egg conundrum). Either way, whether Apple was cool first or the geeks enabled Apple’s rise to coolness, they’ve had it since about 1999, and they’re not giving it up anytime soon. Samsung has been trying to achieve ‘cool’ status for a while now, and they’ve even taken direct jabs at the “Apple Fanboys” in their commercials. Partnering up with the definition of cool – Jay-Z, and his clique: Swizz Beatz, Pharrell, Timbaland, and Rick Rubin (all seen in the newest Samsung ad) definitely ups the ante for Samsung, so they get the first point.

Samsung 1 – Jay-Z 0

As we all assume, this transaction isn’t free. Samsung paid out a cool $5 million to Jay-Z for early release of one million copies of his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, exclusively on Samsung devices. With all the access to illegal downloading, Jay is lucky to have guaranteed a million paid downloads, although they will likely not be included in the final tally of record sales. For the $5 million dollars added to Blue Ivy’s college fund, this round goes to Jay-Z.

Samsung 1 – Jay-Z 1

Now, on to the deciding round. I should have started with this one because it is the most definitive. As hip hop always does, this showdown comes down to street cred. Jay-Z has never been shy about his endorsements. Throughout his career he has rapped about Coca-Cola, Blackberry, Cristal, and his personal plethora of investments, but those rhymes have never affected his street cred. So why is this one different? The best answer is that in the past, we didn’t know about the brand partnerships until we listened to the music. It has always felt like part of the music. With Magna Carta Holy Grail, Samsung is front and center with Jay-Z. The endorsement is first and the music comes second. I mean, it even begs the question of whether or not the album was in production before or after Samsung slapped the cash on Jay’s desk. Although I believe this is a loss for all parties, the winner in that situation is Samsung, because they have co-signed with Jay-Z. If you ask any businessman, that’s a lucrative position to be in.

Final score: Samsung 2 – Jay-Z 1

Never thought I would crown Samsung the winner over Jay-Z, but in the marketing competition they have the clear advantage.

Who do YOU think has come out on top?

Danielle is the Digital Account Manager at 88 Creative. Follow her on Twitter at @DFabes.