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Co-Branding, the Jay-Z Way
By: Maryann Fabian
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During Game 5 of the NBA Finals, it was Jay-Z who really scored a slam dunk of a deal. We all learned that his new album is coming out on the 4th of July and it's already gone platinum! Guess who bought a million copies? Samsung. Yes, it’s good to be Jay-Z. Getting a cellphone company to buy you a platinum album? Genius. This is how you work a co-branding deal.

Samsung will make  "Magna Carta Holy Grail" available for free download on July 4, 12:01 a.m. EST, to the first one million Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S 4, and Galaxy Note II users. Fans can access the album via the new Magna Carta app. The app will be available on June 24.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung paid five bucks a piece for the 1 million copies that will be distributed to its users. So it’s obvious that Jay-Z is a winner from this collaboration. But is Samsung getting as much out of this arrangement as Jay-Z?

Fast Company says “to build your brand, sometimes you have to share your brand.” But in order to succeed past the initial excitement, both brands have to create value. Co-branding starts when both brands have a realistic goal of what the partnership should bring. Both should have a commitment for the partnership to succeed (not just their own success). Both should make their expectations known up front. Both should weigh the risks to their reputation.

The YouTube video of the three-minute ad has already been viewed almost 1.7 million times. It features Jay-Z and his all-star posse in the studio. Someone is shown taking notes on a Samsung tablet about half-way in. But will views translate into sales for Samsung? Their goal is obviously to beat Apple’s introduction of iTunes radio. And they’re stealing a page straight from Apple’s playbook. Remember the old U2 “Vertigo” ads for iPod back in 2004? ("Uno, dos, tres, catorce!")

Bringing it back to basketball, Michael Jordan and Nike definitely set the standard for the perfect co-branding relationship. One superstar with an impeccable public persona and one athletic brand forever linked, both benefitting equally. Like Redford and Newman. Sonny and Cher. Peas and carrots. Maybe Jay-Z and Samsung will be the start of another beautiful relationship.

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About the Author
Maryann Fabian is a copywriter who has crafted the voice of some of this country's best brands.
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