With the arrival of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, advertising across the board underwent a change as companies were forced to wake up to a demographic they had been ignoring, African Americans. The marketing research of malt liquor companies found that although African Americans only comprised roughly 13% of the United States population, they made up an impressive 33% of malt liquor sales. With one third of all malt liquor sales being made to the African American community, malt liquor underwent a vast change in its advertising focus.
Colt 45 came ahead of the game by signing Red Foxx and Billy Dee Williams to be part of their advertising campaign. That is, until the early 90’s when Minott Wessinger of The McKenzie River Corporation, the producers of St. Ides, put together one of the most memorable advertising campaigns in hip hop next to Sprite. Wessinger had heard hip hop artists rap about specific malt liquor brands in their songs in the 80’s and decided he wanted to take the idea to some next level shit.
(Lando Calrissian uses Colt 45 as his pimp juice)
Instead of producing cheaper songs of a similar sound, St. Ides actually filmed commercials with DJ Pooh, the Notorious B.I.G., Ice Cube, 2 Pac, Snoop Dogg, King Tee, Dr. Dre, Wu-Tang Clan, and the Geto Boys; who all created the content for their own commercials. St. Ides sales increased by 25%, and they also became the most popular malt liquor company amongst white college students, who were incidentally heavy consumers within the hip hop industry.
In 1992 Chuck D, who took a strong stance against malt liquor, filed a lawsuit for $5 million dollars against St. Ides for inserting their name into Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” without consent. Instead of “The incredible Public Enemy number one”, the lyric played as “The incredible (St. Ides) number one”. Despite the lawsuit St. Ides continued on their hip hop themed advertising quest and went a step further by releasing a hip hop promo tape dubbed as “St. Ides Exclusive ’94 Rap” containing a St. Ides hook courtesy of Nate Dogg.
(The next page contains most of the St. Ides commercials AND St. Ides Exclusive ’94 Rap” promo)