The Government Is Using Hip-Hop To Fight Smoking By Youths (Video)

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Earlier this year, the worlds of Hip-Hop and marketing collided when Sprite unveiled a new line of soda cans featuring lyrics from Biggie, Drake, Nas, and Rakim – but that was not the first time Hip-Hop had been used so obviously in a marketing campaign. Artists like Ice Cube, Jay Z, and Run-DMC have hocked everything from computers to malt liquor once the business world began realizing how powerful Hip-Hop’s influence was on the youth culture and the 18-34 demographic, the Holy Grail for advertisers. Such marketing ploys have had their share of critics who argue that using Hip-Hop to sell unhealthy products like soda and alcohol is manipulative, but others view the relationship as one to be proud of; knowing that the creators of a culture once thought to be just a fad now carry enough weight to get the attention of billion dollar corporations is something to behold, for many.

Now, the United States government is incorporating Hip-Hop into its own marketing strategy, but not in an effort to sell a product. Rather, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rolled out an anti-smoking campaign that uses Hip-Hop beats, rhymes and fashion to convey its messages. According to a report in the Washington Post, the FDA “aims to embrace the attitude and style of ‘Hip-Hop culture’ in an effort to dissuade young African Americans, Hispanics and other minority teenagers from smoking.” The ad campaign has been dubbed “Fresh Empire,” likely a sly nod to FOX’s current Zeitgeist series, and will “include television ads, local outreach efforts and events featuring DJs and musicians.”

The report offers up some statistics to support the FDA’s decision to use such a specifically targeted campaign, based on the fact that “Young people in minority groups traditionally have been at higher risk of becoming addicted to cigarettes and disproportionately suffer the health consequences later in life” but as a demographic, they are sometimes “hard to reach.” That’s where “Fresh Empire comes in.” According to FDA tobacco official Mitch Zeller, “We know from our research that remaining in control is an important pillar of Hip-Hop culture. But smoking represents a loss of control, so tobacco use is actually in conflict with that priority.” Whether or not Heads agree with that statement is up for debate, but the overt attempt to lure the Hip-Hop demographic in is hard to ignore. Check out the videos below to see two of the “Fresh Empire” ads. Heavy-handed? Corny? Maybe. Effective? We hope so.

“Break Free”

“I Got This”

Related: Do Remember: The Whassup Ad Campaign Was the Hip-Hop Nation’s Greeting to the World