Top five sports brand tie-ups with rappers

As Adidas and hip-hop group Run DMC prepare to reignite their long-running affiliation later this week, Marketing Week picks out the five most memorable tie-ups between sportswear brands and rappers.

Nas and Fila

The Italian sports brand picked Nas to be the face of its 80s-inspired Fila Italia footwear collection in 2008. Hoping to tap into the anticaption around the New York rapper’s tenth studio album “Hip-Hop is Dead, Fila had Nas appear in a series of ads to mark the album’s launch.

Talib Kweli and Ecko

The “The Beautiful Struggle” rapper was the star of urban lifestyle brand Ecko’s “Getting Up” video game in 2006. Kweli allowed developers to use his likeness and voice for the game and also rapped several songs for the soundtrack. Inspired by graffiti culture, the game also featured appearances from rappers Rakim, Mobb Deep and Pharoahe Monch.

Reebok and Jay-Z

Rappers love trainers. And in 2003 Reebok hired Jay-Z in the hope of boosting flagging sales. The rap mogul became the first non-athlete to land an endorsement deal for a range of trainers from a sports brand and joined the ranks of sports luminaries like Michael Jordan and Lebron James. The S.Carter range – named after Jay-Z’s real name, Sean Carter – is reportedly one of the fastest selling lines in Reebok’s history.

Reebok and 50 Cent

When asked on radio what was the biggest pay cheque he had ever seen, Fiddy reportedly replied it was the $80m (£52.3) Reebok paid to launch a range inspired by his G-Unit brand. Keen to replicate the success of its deal with Jay-Z, Reebok had high hopes for 50 Cent, who’s star had been on the rise after his debut “Get Rich or Die Trying album.

Adidas and Run DMC

When Adidas signed a seven-figure deal with the hip-hop group in the 1980s, few could have predicted how it would shape rap’s ongoing relationship with the sportswear industry. The sportswear brand become one of the first to tap into hip-hop’s culture in the 80s after an executive was reportedly inspired by seeing thousands of fans lift their Adidas trainers in the air at a Run DMC concert.



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