Aubrey Drake Graham, more widely recognised by the mononym ‘Drake’, is an incredibly commercially successful Canadian rapper, heavily associated with a ‘nice’ and ‘relatable’ public image. In terms of parts of his persona that are constructed, it could be noted that his carefree attitude and ability to appear very ‘grounded’ despite his fame and success, is artificial. In fact, the way Drake presents himself via social and mainstream media could be regarded as somewhat of a ‘simulation’; is it truly realistic to assume that someone so wealthy, famous and privileged, with access to so many opportunities, doesn’t fit the negative stereotypes of musicians of his genre whatsoever? In fact, representations of Drake in the media seem to closely follow the theory of Richard Dyer’s first paradox; that a ‘star’ must be simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary to the consumer. So, through his music and his public image, we regard Drake’s lifestyle as something that is both attainable but, also aspirational- we feel like we are similar to him, but still, we want to more like him. Thus, things like his publicly close relationship with his father become a microelement of his stardom; for instance, he used an image of his father on the cover of his most recent record, which would help him appear more relatable to the general public who form his fan-base. The purpose behind this, from a marketing perspective, is simple- adding ‘family orientated’ to the string of attributes already associated with Drake’s ‘wholesome’ and ‘down to earth’ character makes him more likable to a population of regular, everyday people because their own values are reflected within someone they idolise. Thus, they are more likely to listen to his music, buy his albums and merchandise, attend his concerts, and keep him societally relevant, generating publicity and in turn, generating income. Furthermore, in reference to Dyer’s first paradox, as well as being a relatable character, Drake’s life must also be portrayed as the antonym of ‘achievable’ and ‘acquirable’- hard to accomplish. This is where the idea of Drake as a commodity is introduced; using his name, image and notoriety to push his own products, as well as others, to a consumer base.
The image of Drake as a person may be ‘ordinary’, but the lifestyle he leads is certainly extraordinary. He is successful, rich, famous- and with these traits comes a certain level of idolatry, which allows him to, essentially, dispense his audience to different companies. People want to emulate him; the affluent lifestyle that he leads is always going to be something others aspire to, so, it’s tactical for Drake to use that power for promotion. As with many of the stars of today, he can harness this through product placement on his social media. The screenshot on the left shows an advertisement for Virginia Black whiskey that Drake took part in- when watching the advert, he features heavily, dressed in a suit, and one of his songs plays in the background. By posting the video on his Instagram profile, this gives him and the brand a potential outreach of over 38 million followers- as seen in the image, the video has over 1.4 million views, which, whilst totalling a miniscule amount of his possible viewership, will still go on to generate a great deal of custom for the brand, and for himself.