For its newest product packaging initiative, Sprite is putting rap lyrics on its cans. This summer, you’ll see famous lines from Drake, Nas, the Notorious B.I.G., and Rakim decorating 16 limited edition cans. Sprite meshing with rap music isn’t a new tactic, as the brand has practically positioned itself as hip-hop’s official soda for quite some time now. I remember as a kid in the ’90s, seeing a black and white Sprite commercial featuring Pete Rock and CL Smooth freestyling in the studio (“first things first, obey your thirst”). I also remember another old commercial where rappers like Fat Joe and Common controlled Voltron-like robots while sipping their lemon-lime carbonated beverages.
Sprite was a first mover who invested early in hip-hop’s rising popularity, which helped establish some longstanding credibility with hip-hop consumers. If 7-Up did a commercial with a bunch of rappers it wouldn’t seem that authentic to me, and would actually seem like a rip off of Sprite’s efforts. Fanta? Dr. Pepper? Not even Coke would be a strong association. With that, it’s still pretty interesting how no other major soda brand has tried to enter the hip-hop market when this niche has become part of the mainstream. Pepsi would’ve been a logical player based on the fact that the brand markets a youthful persona and frequently integrates music into its branding (Pepsi did feature Kanye in one commercial). I guess Sprite took a risk early on and it rightfully won its position. I’m curious to know what was running through the minds of Sprite’s brand managers when someone initially recommended using underground MCs in their mass media campaigns. Fast-forward 20 years later and you have Drake acting as a Sprite spokesman. Granted that hip-hop is more widely accepted than it was 20 years ago and that Drake is the furthest thing from a hardcore rapper, Sprite should get some props for sticking to its hip hop roots. However, I’ve never really heard many rap songs name drop Sprite in its lyrics (except when it’s mixed with some purple drank).
Look for the lyric cans this summer and check out some of the content Sprite is putting out with the Fader highlighting some of the participating rappers.