8 Corporations That Made a Fortune Leveraging Black Culture; Black Lives & Money Matter!

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At the end of the 198os, Timberland sales topped $156 million, 30 percent of which was solely of its classic yellow boot, popular among urban youth in the northeastern United States.

During the 1990s, sales of the brand took off at the same time U.S. hip-hop artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Jay Z, DMX  and many more wore the boots and rapped about them regularly.

After the rappers had fully influenced a generation of fans to wear the work boots, Timberland’s footwear accounted for more than 70 percent of its sales. By the end of 1992, the company’s sales topped $291 million and at the end of the decade, sales reached $917.2 million.


Adidas experienced sliding sales in the late 1970s and 1980s that severely diminished its role in the global sports shoe industry.

However,  rap group Run-DMC made the Adidas Superstar sneaker (shell toes) popular in the urban world with their hit track “My Adidas.”  Before the group’s emergence on the scene in 1983, the Adidas Superstar sneaker was not very popular in the market. Run-DMC’s  promotion instantly boosted sales for the company with 382,000 pairs of Superstars sold in the same year.  It was also reported that $22 million in Adidas products were sold in one weekend during that time.

In 1986 while the group was performing in New York’s Madison Square Garden Rev. Run  told the audience, ‘Put your sneakers in the air!’  They turned the lights up. When he looked out, the entire Garden was holding up one Adidas.

It so happens that an Adidas representative was present at the event and Run DMC inked a $1 million Adidas endorsement deal mid-concert. The group’s long-term relationship with the company helped resurrect the Adidas brand.


1256742304-jayyankeesNew Era 

As a Yankees fan, it’s no surprise that native New Yorker Jay-Z can regularly be seen wearing the team’s baseball cap. Hip-hop fans may have come to associate the cap with the rap star and he has made several references to it in his songs, – even boasting that he has made the cap more popular than the Yankee players have.

Sports apparel-maker New Era most likely attributes the top-selling baseball cap to the Yankees’ 27 World Series wins.  However, the company executives must have recognized Jay’s importance to their brand when they announced limited edition co-branded merchandise for sale at Yankee Stadium, including a custom all-black Yankees baseball cap, which featured design nods to Jay Z’s  Blueprint 3 album and a $50 price tag.

Filmmaker Spike Lee personally requested a red Yankees cap from New Era, starting both a fashion trend as well as a long-term relationship with the company. In 1997, Lee  directed the company’s first national television ads. He continues to direct New Era ads and has inspired the designs of some caps see more here.




Clarks shoes’ popularity in the U.S. came and left in the mid to late ’90s, however, they are still a popular in Jamaica — thanks to Jamaican Dancehall artist Vybz Kartel. At one time, you could purchase a pair for $5,000 Jamaican dollars – roughly $60U.S.

But when Kartel released his single “Clarks “ in the summer 2010, stores across Jamaica reported selling out instantly. Though Clarks have long been a staple in Jamaican fashion, Kartel elevated the brand to another level. Prices for the shoes doubled on the island and it would take a whopping $10,000 Jamaican dollars – about $100U.S. – to get your hands on a pair.

Starter Jackets


In the early 1990s popular R&B and rap groups like Another Bad Creation, Jodeci, and NWA sported flashy, colorful Starter jackets with matching caps. Shortly thereafter, the demand for Starter jackets soared and so did the price.

In 1989, the Starter Clothing Line generated $58.9 million in revenue. However, after hip-hop and R&B artists made the clothing line trendy among their fans, sales doubled in 1990 to $126 million. Starter immediately noticed  the uptick in sales and decided to feature hip-hop star DJ Jazzy Jeff in an advertising campaign. Within two years, Starter’s net sales nearly doubled again to $356 million.

El Hadji Diouf of Blackburn Rovers' Gold Cadillac Escalade parked in Manchester city centre



In 2001, rapper Ludacris boasted about the Cadillac brand in his popular Southern Hospitality song and video. In the song’s video, Luda drove a Cadillac Escalade and as the camera focused on the Cadillac emblem he rapped:

“Cadillac grills, Cadillac mills
Check out the oil my Cadillac spills”

In 2002, a year after the Ludacris video, Cadillac reported an increase in Escalade sales. That year, 19 percent of all Cadillac Escalade consumers were Black, a huge increase from the year before.

The company was reportedly puzzled by the increase in sales from the African–American community, but attributed the increase to fans who wanted  to emulate the rappers and athletes who were purchasing them.

“It is OK for rappers and athletes to call us cool, but the moment we start calling us cool, we are done,” said Susan Docherty, Escalade brand manager at the time. She conceded, “You can’t buy this kind of buzz.”



Moscato wine

The sales of moscato have been growing at about 25 percent a year, and the manufacturers of the sweet wine can thank African-American consumers for that, specifically those who listen to hip-hop.

Rap star Drake is given most of the credit for moscato’s recent success. In a song from his 2009 mixtape, Drake rapped the line:”It’s a celebration — clap, clap bravo. Lobster and shrimp and a glass of moscato.”

While it was rarely mentioned before in popular rap songs, now moscato is name-dropped throughout the genre –  just as Cristal, Hypnotiq, and Ciroc have been.

Most recently, the wine was featured prominently in a Waka Flocka song (“I’ma sip moscato, and you gonlose them pants”).

It has even found its way into the world of reality television. For a while, NeNe Leakes of the Real Housewives of Atlanta was pushing her own brand, Miss Moscato.


In March 1985, Air Jordan sneakers hit stores nationwide for $65 a pair.  This was the year Michael Jordan was named Rookie of The Year and averaged 28.2 points per game. Because of Jordan’s success on the court, by May, Nike sold $70 million in Air Jordans and by the end of the year, the franchise had yielded more than $100 million in revenue. At the time, the profit was record-breaking for Nike.

In 2012, the Jordan brand sold $2.5 billion retail, its best year ever, according to the market retail tracking firm SportsOneSource. Air Jordans make up 58 percent of all basketball shoes bought in the U.S. and 77 percent of all children’s basketball shoes – and most of the kids are too young to have ever seen the basketball star play.



Source:  Atlanta Black Star

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