One of the benefits of avoiding almost any and all political discourse is that I was able to successfully ignore last week's ridiculous Republican-driven controversy over Common's appearance at the White House. Unfortunately, this non-story took attention away from a MUCH more newsworthy issue involving a rap artist in the waning days of his fame.
Ice Cube's evolution from gangsta rapper to family-friendly actor/director/producer is one of the more fascinating transitions in the recent history of entertainment. This is a man who rose to fame in the late 1980s with N.W.A. and famously attracted the attention of the FBI with incendiary tracks such as "F*** the Police". Cube went on to a successful solo career, but the misogyny, violence and rage contained within such seminal albums as AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Death Certificate and The Predator didn't exactly endear him to Middle America (or, at least not to the parents of the suburban kids who were excitedly scooping up Cube's CDs).
To his credit, Cube has successfully reconstructed his image over the past decade or so. He served as executive producer on the lucrative Barbershop and Are We There Yet? movie franchises, spinning them off into a pair of cable television series. Now, in his early 40s, Ice Cube has become positively cuddly -- lampooning his cartoonish tough guy persona in films like The Longshots and Lottery Ticket.
This is exactly what Ice Cube is doing in the above Coors Light commercial. So, why doesn't it work?
Well, on a personal level, it's still oddly jarring for me to see light beer commercials actively targeting African-Americans.* In my lifetime, the light beer companies never took their eyes off of their core demographics: working-class white males and young white women hitting the club. Ten years ago, Coors Light aired a pair of spots with rapper/producer Dr. Dre, but scrapped the ad campaign fairly quickly.
* -- One could argue that Ice Cube's commercial appeal -- at the absolute apex of his rap career and not unlike most rappers from his era -- came mostly from white, well-to-do consumers. This Coors Light ad is clearly not after that audience.
Looking at it from the perspective of my mostly unused marketing degree from San Diego State University; the commercial clumsily stumbles from silly to
Those muddled marketing waters still make a lot more sense when compared to Coors Light's "super cold" concept. In the pantheon of superfluous emphasis, "super cold" sits alongside triple dog dare and the defense strenuously objects.