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8 Corporations That Made a Fortune Leveraging Black Culture

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Timberland

At the end of the 198os, Timberland sales topped $156 million, 30 percent of which was solely of its classic yellow boot, popular among urban youth in the northeastern United States.

During the 1990s, sales of the brand took off at the same time U.S. hip-hop artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Jay Z, DMX  and many more wore the boots and rapped about them regularly.

After the rappers had fully influenced a generation of fans to wear the work boots, Timberland’s footwear accounted for more than 70 percent of its sales. By the end of 1992, the company’s sales topped $291 million and at the end of the decade, sales reached $917.2 million.

What people are saying

51 thoughts on “8 Corporations That Made a Fortune Leveraging Black Culture

  1. Tamika Tsp says:

    …of all the companies, mentioned above, not ONE is minority (black) owned…and this my friend, is one of the BIGGEST problems in our community. We have public figures, endorsing other companies, bragging about it and selling it to our people.. INSTEAD of encouraging our people to build corporations and business that WILL (in the long run) help and secure our future, economically. Also, instead of the average Black Joe Public, understand & recognize that corporations are using these public figures, to get their hard earned $$, they just follow suit, while killing each other, to achieve this so called level of 'success'…

  2. Why does this article not mention the fact that Addidas founder and his brother who founded PUMA were once Nazis? Why does this article not mention the fact that Timbaland once told Blacks they didn't appreciate their product being associated with urban youths? Why does this article go past the fact the Cristal didn't like their product being associated with rap artists and the lifestyle?

  3. Floyd Webb says:

    Damn, must we always focus on the obvious and miss the message.The MESSAGE is that is concrete capital value to Black Culture and life. Let's run and tell THAT. NOW, how do we, the producers of this AWESOME culture, seize control and monitize it on our own in our best interest?

  4. Glester Thorpe says:

    Not sure if that was the purpose of this article.

  5. Fulani Yira says:

    It's American culture, not "black" culture. Why are people attacking Americans for their culture? I don't get this article either. We live in a Capitalist society, so what is the issue here. It's the American way of life. It's also called doing business for the consumer – supply and demand. Americans create art and it becomes culture.

  6. Get people on TV to model your clothing.

  7. Ed Dunn says:

    Please do not confuse rap artists and the rap lifestyle with Blackness…I don't want to be associated with that crap either…

  8. Michelle MsCapricorn Jones says:

    INTERESTING…

  9. Charles Being-Epic Hopgood II says:

    message: we control dollars and the economy! Imagine if we only purchased blk owned products

  10. Something else to think about. It is a known fact that all these big name corporations and major labels make a killing off these damn rap artists and at the same time laugh at how we conduct ourselves on a social and economic level. What even startled me was when I came across an article some time ago about the West Coast Rapper/Producer Dr.Dre donating some millions of dollars to UCLA. Nothing wrong with that, except the fact that these rappers and entertainers can donate their money to more African American colleges/universities instead of these other big name colleges/universities. I guess it's also safe to say that while these corporations and other organizations that profit off our culture, they also shit on us at the same time and laugh in our faces when we bring more harm than good to our own communities. Don't have to believe me off top, just read between the lines and find out for yourself.

  11. Mansa Musa says:

    this bitch is an agent. an african capitalist. if you know history, you know this dont fit in the conversation.

  12. Andrea Hicks says:

    I wont even lie starter was the shit when i was little

  13. Yeah but when Kenya talk about getting with manufactures and cutting out the middle man Tamika Tsp they call him crazy. Niggaz and flies boy, Niggaz and flies.

  14. Shawna Hawk says:

    Ed Dunn Hip Hop, Jazz, R&B and blues just to name a few are all come from Black people. We need to claim that, if not just for us but for our youth. I'm not talking about the commercial crap we see in the media, If we don't claim it then it get culturally appropriated and white washed, not to mention Black people being once again the only ones not making money off of our skills.

  15. Floyd Webb says:

    Ed Dunn well god have mercy on your sleeping soul.

  16. Floyd Webb says:

    Black people are SUBJECTS of a capitalists society, not full participants in it in the history of America. Hit your hopes to a falling star if you want. We been doing that for over a century and where are we as capital;ist? Try barely existent.

  17. Shawna Hawk says:

    Chris, it`s institutional racim, learn more about our history to know more about whats going on now.

  18. Devan Clark says:

    Glester Thorpe Blackman..if you don't understand what this article Is saying you got a problem ..and maybe WORLDSTARHIPHOP, is more for your likes and understanding…

  19. Devan Clark says:

    Spoken like a true white guy and a broken record…Chris you are further proof that black and whites still live in totally different worlds..

  20. Tim Adams says:

    We, the Oppressed, have for FAR too Long; been Torn Apart and Pulled from all sides, Realize that people who Do NOT have our Best Interests will always ask somewhat foolishly; …………………." Why does it always have to be about your people vs our people". …C. Saggiotes: The Answers include: Slavery Theft of our Ancestors, their Money, their Freedom their Cultures, their Labor, the Resources, the Lands that they EARNED and Were Run off by White Ku Klux Klan's organizations that sneakily evolved into Jim Crow-Era Democratic; and now Tea Party organizations, that control Much of the Republican Party Such as Ted Cruisers, and other Rabid Racists..

  21. Devan Clark says:

    Tim Adams I agree 100% Tim…..whats even more bizarre is they ask these dumb questions like they really care or not if Blacks become more impowered and progress..lol..if black people all got PHD'S tomorrow andall became preachers and committed no more crimes..White folks would still find a way to blame us and say we are suspect..and think we are up to no good…

  22. So I'm sorry thinking that I that grew up in north Philadelphia in a bad hood still made it. Not bc I was white bc I tried. I had all the same teachers and opportunities as blacks whites Latinos ect… The only reason I went onto college is bc I tried. It's bc I had good parents. I'm so sick of hearing that blacks have no way to move on up. It's because parents today black or white don't take care of business and don't care enough about their kids future to make a difference In their lives. And just saying it is mostly in black neighbor hoods. Most of my friends are black but I don't see them black or white I see them for who they are. Like James or Monroe. Two awesome men not black men but just men. Maybe you'll need to open Ur eyes and stop dewelling on what happening in the past and start becoming part of the solution for the future. Ok slavery happened. We can't change that but it's 2013 what's stopping Ur kid from becoming more than you. It's you and that bullshit thinking. It ll starts with how we raise our young. They Are the future so either become part of the solution or shut the fuck up and stop your bitching

  23. So let me get this right… a black musician wears a certain type clothing and a bunch of FOLLOWERS take to the trend, and all of a sudden there's a problem? What exactly is the problem?

  24. Shawn Mc says:

    this is nothing new. rappers have always been getting low key backroom deals with corporations. Busta Rhymes got a deal for Courvoisier and then he made the song. nelly did a air force 1 song for nike. nelly just did a honey bunches of oat cereal and mc hammer always did commercials.
    its just business,
    now if consumers want to buy item their favorite rappers like and promote that's pretty much what the corporations want.

  25. Well its interesting to hear everyone's comments. I'm native American, African American, and polish. History says everyone in my family tree has been slaves. So I think its important to know our history but also know every race has problems. So Chris is saying we need to move on and improve humanity together and stop hating others for the past. Let's stop making excuses for the bad things that happened in the past so we think we have a good reason to live in poverty. GOD wants all his children to coexist and love each other. Lets teach our children not to hate other races and we all have to try hard in life to succeed. Come on guys its 2014. Respect everyone's race and everything will be ok.

  26. Well its interesting to hear everyone's comments. I'm native American, African American, and polish. History says everyone in my family tree has been slaves. So I think its important to know our history but also know every race has problems. So Chris is saying we need to move on and improve humanity together and stop hating others for the past. Let's stop making excuses for the bad things that happened in the past so we think we have a good reason to live in poverty. GOD wants all his children to coexist and love each other. Lets teach our children not to hate other races and we all have to try hard in life to succeed. Come on guys its 2014. Respect everyone's race and everything will be ok.

  27. if i was CRISTAL i wouldn't either why would i want my product to be associated with drug dealers and pimp glorifying i would feel ashamed

  28. Floyd Webb i think that is the issue they are subject and not benefits, you can make fun of italian americans yet they are also beneficiaries on this hand we are all consumers

  29. "A black musician wears a certain type clothing and a bunch of FOLLOWERS take to the trend."

    Question answered.

  30. And Fox. They went from being a second tier network to first class on the back of a series of strong Black shows including "NY Undercover." All just preceding their NFL bid after which they promptly dumped their black shows.
    WB tried it but it actually takes GOOD black shows…

  31. Floyd Webb I did NOT miss the message. Black people and artists need to stop being in love with the corporate music contract. Complete and total withdrawal of our money from anything to do with corporate music, corporate record contracts is the ONLY way to undermine the destructive hold of those in power who are White and the sellouts who want to sell all that we produce to them. Also, stop making music for EVERYONE. Make music just for us, in a conversation just to us. Cut the gangsters out of the music business too. They owned the clubs, the artists as well and when some like Sam Cooke wanted to control the music he produced, these evil thugs killed him. (Ohh, that might be too much history for you but is that historical context not on point either?)
    We have the power to support ONLY independent artists with something to say. The business of music and movies is toxic to our people but there would be no industry if not for us.
    First focus, take away the need for a corporate music contract. Take away the corporate power. Trace where the profits go. Does any aspect of the money generated either directly or indirectly being invested in say stocks in the prison industrial complex such as stocks in co's like CCA – Corrections Corporation of America? Perhaps some of the most miserable execs are buying stocks there or the buyers of White rap artists are doing this.
    Just a suggestion. Go on ahead and bash it but I'm more interested in solutions. Keep in mind, maybe the historical aspect was obvious to YOU but to others, they have absolutely no conception of this and if we as a people did this conversation wouldn't be necessary.

  32. The issue is WE CREATE and They CLAIM!

  33. you people realize that all these companies had nothing to do with who buys from them? you are in a free market, if you think something is wrong shop somewhere else. if anything a lot of them read rapper sang about/wore something and everyone else just followed them.

  34. Floyd Webb thank God for your wisdom, that's the message matter, of fact it is evidently showing blacks how much potential they have, any way it all takes someone to step out and break the barriers!

  35. Lol Clark's are the only shoes I buy, they last forever, my older cuz has a pair of pocket Clark's he bought almost 20 years ago.

  36. Even white folks bow to their Chinese Masters…..mostly all that shit made in China. The united states of America will be owned by china in fifty years!

  37. Marc Green says:

    We have the best dressed Homeless population.

  38. Marc Green says:

    We have the best dressed Homeless population.

  39. Antony Penel says:

    How do you mention Clarks and not mention the Wallaby? You know but it would be blue and cream.

  40. Hip hop cultrue got it from the old jewish men that wore them, and sold us lees and levis

  41. this article is flawed lets not forget that these artist are purchasing American products neither had there been any black owned industries at the time they made theyre songs, do you know any black automotive dealers similar to Cadillac? most of these artist have created their own brand since maybe it would have been a good idea to mention that instead of displaying negativety. Jordan now has a more ownership of the Jordan brand, nikki minaj now sales her own brand of moscoto, jayz had a long run with his own clothing line rocawear as well as plenty of alcoholic liquors like dusse, armadale.dr. dre beats by dre. kobe Bryant underarmour beverages, nameless amounts of clothing labels and beverages ie pimpjuice by nelly. what's the point in bringing up this old information.

  42. dr.dre donated to a college to create a class to train and develop people to create more products which opens up another field for educated blacks. also if you look at beats corporate structure it has black hired in high level positions.

  43. the African America colleges aren't producing competitive employees.

  44. thank you we as blacks wear something and act like the companie wasn't in existence for 50years without our purchasing.

  45. this is all BS. we should have our own lines and our own companies that make the things we like. some of these bitch ass corporations are soo racist that they do not want us to wear their clothing or drink their alcohol. phuck them,. I cannot suppoort them and neither should you. we need to take control of all the things we use in our culture. koreans should not be making money off us, either. they so phucking smart, so much more intelligent than us, let them make their money off somebody else.

  46. Shawn Mc we know about clark, especially culturally inclined Black people.

  47. don't blame the victims. this country failed to do what was constitutially mandated: "all levels of government are to use all necessary means to lift all the badges and incidents of slavery off the shoulders of Black people." this government did nothing. matter of fact, they did just the opposite: hollywood, financed by the government, continues to make their slave narrative movies, starting with "a birth of a nation", where they depict the "badge" of slavery on Black people into perpetuity. so yes, it is about y'all vs us.

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