The story of how Reebok told rapper, Rick Ross, to take a hike – just not in their shoes.

Despite topping Billboard Charts as a popular Hip-Hop artist, Rick Ross was shamed from fame by 72,000 women – resulting in being fired by Reebok.

Hip-hop formed during the 1970s when block parties became increasingly popular in New York City, particularly among African American youth residing in the Bronx. (1)  In a 1990 article Janice C. Thompson of Time Magazine wrote that hip hop “has grown into the most exciting development in American pop music in more than a decade.” (2)

As aptly stated in The Grio NBC News, “Celebrity endorsements are a big part of the advertising world, with as many as 20 percent of ads featuring a TV, film or sports star. Nowhere is the link between celebrity and product endorsement more evident than in the black community, especially with the promotion of certain merchandise by rap artists.

“Hip-hop is arguably the most influential cultural and popular music genre in America. Over the years, hip-hop endorsements — including product placements, embedded marketing, name dropping and shout-outs in rap songs and music videos — have generated a boost in sales for products ranging from athletic shoes to clothing to liquor. As a result, some consumer brands became hits among black consumers, popular especially among young urban consumers of color, even when the manufacturer did not intend to target that demographic” (3)

With that kind of success, do Hip-Hop artists really need good relations with the public (aka public relations, PR, what is PR) or do their music, products endorsements and topping the Billboard charts equate to all the PR they’ll ever need?

Rick Ross’ Shame from Fame

Apparently not.  Topping the Billboard charts did not keep Rick Ross, who was recently fired by Reebok, on top.

Lyrics in his new song in his song sparked outrage from fans and activist groups.  72,000 women signed a petition for Reebok to have Rick Ross fired for denigrating the female race in his song entitled “U.O.E.N.O.”  (On Wednesday (March 14, 2o12), it was revealed via Twitter that Ross officially signed an endorsement deal with famous sneaker brand, Reebok.)

The story goes that a women’s activist group called upon Reebok and Rick Ross to answer up.  Neither responded.  When threatened to protest in front of Reebok’s Flagship story in Manhattan, they still ignored it.  Oops.

The morning of the protest, Rick Ross decided he’d send out an apology – albeit a lame one – via Twitter.   Really??  Twitter?!?!   You want to piss off 72,000 women who have serious buying power via a tepid apology via Twitter?!  Geez.  That started a backlash of more angry responders, and not all were women.

Once the protesters showed up, Reebok took notice – a little late, huh?  Reebok is heavily invested in the women’s market and then decided to publicly fire Rick Ross for insincerity and irresponsibility.

Then, and only then, did Rick Ross give a more sincere apology.  Ay, too little too late!

And what was the value of that contract?  Wait for it – wait…for…it… $3.5-$5 million dollars!

So where was his PR agency?  Snoozing.

As many you know, I love hip-hop music.  But on this one, I give a total #PRFAIL.

And I end with a quote by mmxlii: “Ross needed to be more accountable for his words and actions, yet Reebok has to know what type of artist they are dealing with as they endorse him. So when they, or companies like them look to distance themselves from an artist like Ross after an incident they can’t act so surprised by it anymore.” (4)

See the international publicity & PR as it unfolds and judge for yourself.

(1)    Dyson, Michael Eric, 2007, Know What I Mean? : Reflections on Hip-Hop, Basic Civitas Books, p. 6.
(2)    Simpson, Janice C. (February 5, 1990). “Music: Yo! Rap Gets on the Map”. Time (New York: Time Inc.) 135: 60. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
(3)    Maybach’s fall and the limits of rap product placement by David A. Love | November 30, 2011  thegrio.com/2011/11/30/does-hip-hop-product-placement-make-a-difference/
(4)    The “Boss” is Fired for Rape: Rick Ross vs Reebok [MMXLII Poll] April 11, 2013 by mmxlii  mmxlii.com/the-boss-is-fired-for-rape-rick-ross-vs-reebok-mmxlii-poll/