It seems to me that rappers are given a very long leash and permitted many indiscretions, even extending to felonies in some cases, before commercial companies lose the desire to be affiliated with them entirely. At least this is the case with T.I. and the Remy Martin cognac company.
Despite his having served time on weapons charges, Remy Martin had named rapper T.I. as their Global Creative Consultant. This deal would have seen the rapper become a spokesperson for the cognac maker in addition to being involved in the creation of new marketing schemes. This will not now be the case, following charges of possession of illegal narcotics in Los Angeles. Remy Martin decided that enough was enough and that they did not want their company to be associated with T.I.’s flailing image. The organisation released a statement saying, “Sometimes the ‘road to redemption’ is a difficult path. Regrettably, we will not be able to continue collaborating with T.I. at this time. We wish T.I. well and hope he will devote his time and energy to staying the course.” In addition to this blow, T.I. was also dropped from the latest Axe promotional campaign.
It appears that T.I. had eventually gone so far in compromising his public image that his suitability for roles with Remy Martin and Axe had become severely diminished. Partnership deals can really only thrive when the agreements are advantageous to all the parties involved.
It’s tempting to feel a slight sense of sympathy for T.I. if one reflects on his difficult upbringing and the adulation he received at a relatively early age. On the other hand, a man in his position with experience in the entertainment business, and with access to agents and advisors, should understand the potential consequences of his actions and accept the turn of events as nobody’s fault but his own. This deal could have been a great step forward for his career, but the opportunity was ruined by carelessness and perhaps even conceit – the belief that he was too important to be dropped.
On reflection, I also believe that companies should think more carefully than Remy Martin did in this situation about choosing who they want to represent them. There is an obvious appeal to a particular marketplace in selecting a rapper to be a company representative, especially one with a following as great as T.I.’s. It is vital, however, to be meticulous in the selection process and understand that many rappers are not the most stable of personalities and may go off the rails from time to time. Do companies do a good enough job of scenario analysis – thinking through the pros and cons of their investments in stars to represent their brands before signing deals? In the case of Remy Martin and T.I., I would argue not.