Rap battle: Sustainability's latest Millennial marketing trend

From BT laying down a track about minimising emissions to a Dutch hip-hop star freestyling about Heineken's reduced water consumption, edie explores the latest trend in CSR reporting: rap music.

BT, H&M, Heineken and Henkel have all turned to rap music as a way of spreading their CSR messages

BT, H&M, Heineken and Henkel have all turned to rap music as a way of spreading their CSR messages

With Millennials proving an increasingly interested and influential audience when it comes to sustainable business, brands quickly turned to social media to spread their sustainability messages and engage with key customers on serious CSR issues.

But no one would have predicted that the world of sustainability marketing would eventually begin to enlist the support of rap artists to deliver CSR messages for the likes of Samsung, H&M and Henkel.

On first glance, you would be forgiven for rolling your eyes at the idea of corporate entities making a what seems like a pitiable attempt to connect with the younger generation on sustainable business, but these bizarre creations have actually proved a surprise success, with some recent attempts even going viral.

The rap genre is often associated with negative connotations of immorality and wanton violence. But, while we of course don’t want to see daylight robberies or driveby shootings in the name of CSR reporting, it is refreshing to see the genre being used as a platform to champion the good cause of sustainability.

Enough of the spiel. It’s time for you to decide - are these musical creations cringeworthy marketing madness or creative CSR ingenuity? Complete and utter flops or lyrical virtuosos? Have your say by leaving a comment at the bottom of this article, tweeting us @edie or laying down your own green rap on YouTube (actually, please don't).

Heineken get's frank

“You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow.” While those lyrics from Eminem’s seminal Lose Yourself may have reflected the determination of a young hip-hop artist from Detroit to seize his opportunity in the rap game, the words are equally relevant to the issue of sustainability and climate change.

That's the view of Dutch brewer Heineken, which has certainly not missed its 'one shot' with this latest CSR composition, penned by Kevin ‘Blaxtar’ de Randamie, released alongside its 2015 sustainability report this week.  

Blaxtar's slick tounge lucidly tells a tale of Heineken's comprehensive approach to sustanability, rapping about how company growth can go hand-in-hand with water consumption and carbon emissions reductions.

Sources have confirmed that Blaxtar's song will not appear on an 8 Mile sequel soundtrack, but the artist can at least be consoled that his sweater contained no traces of his mum’s spaghetti.

"Stop!" BT designs for tomorrow

Since its early mainstream success in the 1970s, rap music has been used as an effective tool to highlight some of the world’s most awful injustices. NWA were notorious for their deep hatred of police brutality and racial profiling, with their confrontational lyrics even earning them a run in with the FBI.

In its Designing Our Tomorrow video, BT has turned the spotlight to the issue of waste and resource management, stressing the importance of sustainable business in an increasingly resource-constrained world.

The catchy rap video explains how BT has applied simple-but-effective sustainable design principles in the creation of its Home Hub router - a slim packaging model which saves on fuel and is practically beneficial for customer. This is now well and truly a WiFi router with attitude.

H&M: Regenerate the nation

Songwriter MIA rose to fame with her 2007 UK number one Paper Planes, but had she considered the negative environmental effects of paper waste?

During this year’s World Recycle Week, MIA filmed this exclusive new video for H&M, highlighting the environmental impact of clothes going to landfill around the world. The music video, released to tie in with H&M's latest CSR report, is part of the retailer's goal to close the loop in fashion and recycle unwanted garments to create recycled textile fibres for new clothes.

We look forward to MIA’s rumoured new compilation album, which will hopefully feature classics such as 'We don’t have to take our clothes off' and 'You can leave your hat on'.

Samsung to the rescue

Move over PSY, there’s a new Korean music sensation taking the internet by storm.

While the Gangnam Style may have reinvented certain dancefloor moves in nightclubs across the world, the song arguably pales into insignificance when compared with Samsung’s 2014 sustainability rap, delivered by Korean rapper Mad Clown.

While Clown’s dubious Jay Z impression may not earn him a deal at Death Row Records any time soon, this video at least goes some way to shining a spotlight on diversity and accessibility programmes within Samsung's workforce.

The song includes many standout lyrics such as “Samsung to the rescue, put wings to your dreams”. While this statement may be true, we cannot guarantee that Mad Clown won’t be paying you a visit in your nightmares in the near future.

Henkel's shower rap

We all have that one go-to song that we love to belt out in the shower. There is no better feeling than launching into a rendition of New York, New York while kicking out your legs and wielding the shampoo bottle as an improvised mic.

Consumer goods giant Henkel has gone one step further: it's Beauty Care arm invited a creative online-community to submit inventive videos that motivate for responsible shower behavior. 

The result was this composition that could knock Frank Sinatra off his perch. 'The Shower Rap: Water is my Homie' was created to motivate more water-efficient shower behaviour, offering a simple way on how to save water. The solution: “Hop in, get wet, lather up, rinse-off, finish”.

Despite this video’s best efforts on the sustainability front, we doubt it will receive much critical acclaim for its musical credentials. Your rule as shower-song king is safe for now, Frank.

--- Sustainability reporting: 10 secrets to success ---

George Ogleby & Luke Nicholls


| CSR reporting | Sustainability reporting | sustainable business | video | ethics


Water | CSR & ethics
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