China’s Hip Hop Ban: The Impact on Brands and Business

China’s Hip Hop Ban: Impact on Brands and Business

Straight outta China comes a new ban on hip-hop. In fact, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s state media regulator, publicly declared that hip-hop culture and people with tattoos would be prevented from being shown on-screen, according to Billboard.com.

Government Intervention

It appears that the move is an attempt by the Chinese government to assume a position of power over the subculture. The Chinese leadership has always seen rap as having the ability to make young people less eager to work, study, or encourage decadence. In other words, hip-hop is considered as having the capacity to lead young people “astray.” President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, had previously urged Chinese artists to “reflect the spirit of Chinese culture” in their art. As such, it makes sense that his government would want to forbid hip-hop culture since he considers rap capable of moving young people away from the lifestyle he preaches.

The Chinese conservatives have always considered hip-hop to be ”full of porn, drugs, and vulgar words,” all of which are seen as being against the “mainstream culture of China.” But, while China has long been against hip-hop culture, the government didn’t go as far as banning the genre and culture until recently. It turns out Rap of China winner PG One provoked government response when he encouraged drug use among teenagers and insulted women, according to Parklu.com.

What Does This Mean for Marketing?

However, the recent crackdown by the Chinese government represents different things to different people and interests. For brands and businesses, China banning hip hop and tattoos from TV may affect how they market and sell to the Chinese millennial. Now, with the ban in place, brands will need to watch their involvement with hip-hop, or be perceived as being in opposition of the Chinese government and people. It is true that culture affects brand advertising expression and communication, but nowhere is this more pronounced than in China.

Before the ban came into effect, several businesses had been jumping on the hip-hop bandwagon in one way or another, riding on its growing popularity to increase product awareness among the Chinese millennial. Top brands like McDonald’s, Chevrolet, and Absolut collaborated with Samsung, OPPO, Nivea, Disney, etc. to sponsor the Rap of China, a Chinese rap reality show produced by IQiyi. The fashion industry was not left out, as braids, hoodies, sportswear, etc. suddenly became commonplace and even desirable.

Shoe and athletic brand Puma, joined forces with singer Rihanna’s makeup brand, Fenty Beauty to throw a party in Shanghai with KOLs. In addition, a similar move saw Adidas stage a hip-hop concert in Chengdu. Having had global prominence for decades, it seemed hip-hop was finally infiltrating China. And, arguably not in a negative fashion. It could be said that hip-hop was just a trend with businesses at the heart of it all.

Now, companies must be careful in regard to how they go about strengthening their market share in China with the regulations. That is if hip-hop, or hip-hop influenced culture, is a selling point of their brand identity. Failure to tread carefully could see them paint a picture that might not be pretty like the shoe they’re trying to sell.


Author:  Christine Duff

Christine wants to live in a world filled with cutting edge fashion, beautiful words and and an endless supply of leather jackets and boots. A product development grad of FIDM, she was the Editor-in-Chief of MODE Magazine where she reignited her love of storytelling. She has diverse experience within the industry with trend research, art direction and styling editorial spreads. She gained her most notable experience working in Los Angeles at the satellite operation for GQ and Vogue Thailand. Christine is passionate about social science and the role it plays in the consumer goods industry and apparel in particular.


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