In the first seconds of DJ Khaled’s 2015 music video for “Gold Slugs,” you notice that the record producer is casually drinking a Four Loko (an almost unsettlingly saccharine, caffeinated alcoholic beverage notorious for its ability to cause blackouts) with lunch, the first of many signs that the video exists in a reality far from our own.
This divide between real life and music video fiction is common, and not necessarily a bad thing. It’s far more entertaining to watch Khaled drink Four Loko with famous rappers than it would be to watch him order an ice water at a late brunch with family. However, not only do Khaled’s videos have to be engaging enough to keep viewers interested for the full timespan, they often have to market approximately one million products.
The video for “I’m the One,” another Khaled-produced hit that’s sure to be blasting out of car radios all summer, was released April 28. It proves that music video advertising is booming. In just over five minutes, the video is able to sneak in advertisements for Beats headphones, Supreme clothing, Kandypens vaporizers, Bumbu rum, Cîroc and Luc Belaire Rare Luxe champagne.
Khaled clearly loves promoting products he cares about, and has perfected the art of doing so. Last year, Diddy passed the Cîroc torch to Khaled, who became a brand ambassador for Cîroc Mango, so it’s no surprise the beverage is in the hands of models and rappers in the producer’s current work. In March, Lil Wayne — who makes an appearance in “I’m the One” — posted a picture of himself and Khaled on Facebook with the caption “On set putting my bro DJ Khaled on this new Rum I’m on Bumbu Rum!” This explains why the rum is featured in the video, and why, for a few glorious seconds, Wayne speaks into a bottle of Bumbu rum as if it’s a phone. Kandypens prides itself on its popularity among rap artists, as its website gloats that it has not only attracted the attention of Khaled, but also XXXTentacion, Young M.A. and A$AP Rocky.
Khaled’s iconic Snapchat account is, in and of itself, a tiny marketing machine. When asked by Business Insider about his affinity for Snapchat in the shower, he said, “When I’m in the shower, I’m gonna put you up on game: Dove is the best soap in the game. I got sensitive skin, and I know that Dove is the real deal.” This would be a ridiculous thing to say unprompted, and still proves ridiculous with a prompt. Even in the shower, Khaled is thinking about product placement.
The DJ is obviously not the only one whose videos promote enough products to fill a very upscale CVS catalog, but he is one of the best at doing so. Jennifer Lopez and Miley Cyrus both seem to love Eos lip balm a little too much. And we should never forget Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video, which was, in a sense, just a fancy Virgin Mobile ad.
Product placement in television, music and movies is not a new phenomenon, and it won’t go away any time soon. It is interesting to note how product placement is changing as social media and music video production evolve. Obviously, for Khaled, these little advertisements have become a major key.