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Marketing Change To Their Hearts
By: Emory Brown
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Violence wreaks havoc in Chicago. It destroys peace advocates, families, and innocent bystanders. Some say hip hop's the predator killing youth with lyrical violence. However, there’s hope, because hip-hop music programs and marketing campaigns are becoming the new negotiators of peace in Chicago’s streets.

Heart Changer #1: AMPED
“The rhetoric on hip-hop music says it’s all bad is wrong and has undertones of racism. It provides a powerful tool for music expression, creativity, and empowerment for youth,” said Dr. Maud Hickey. She’s the Director of Northwestern’s AMPED, a music mentorship program that connects NU students with incarcerated juveniles to teach them the art of music. AMPED creates an environment where students share experiences of struggle and triumph through music that heals and empowers. AMPED is transformative education because it teaches incarcerated young men the power of making choices that lead to success. “The residents love music making.  They love being successful. They love to create music that can’t be judged,” stated Hickey. AMPED has “Amped up” the lives of over 400 students and created a series of mix-tapes to celebrate their talents.

Heart Changer #2: True Star Magazine
True Star’s executive directors Deanna McCleary and Na Tae Thompson use hip-hop, journalism, and activism to lead youth to achievement. “We watch kids transform. We remember when some could barely write a paragraph and then you look up one day and they are writing entire articles and scheduling interviews,” stated Ms. Thompson. True Star tackles political and social issues while celebrating hip-hop. In 2013, they created a campaign called “43 Seconds,” which highlighted the fact that “every 43 seconds someone is killed by gun violence.” The campaign earned community respect and State Farm donated $70,000 to develop it. True Star’s giving youth a voice in Hip-Hop and the power to end violence.  

Heart Changer #3: “Music vs. Gun Violence” Campaign
Agencies solve clients’ problems with ease, but when Chicago Ideas asked Leo Burnett to help youth stand against gun violence, they called in hip-hop. Brian Shemeda, Jeff Candido, and their creative team created the idea “Music vs. Gun Violence.” It’s a digital stage where everyone can spit their verse to end violence. “The goal of the campaign was to turn negative lyrics which invoke violence into positive lyrics which invoke peace,” Shemeda said. This positivity is growing and growing as artists contribute to the soundtrack of peace.  Music vs. Gun Violence has grown from 3 ½ minutes to hours of music in a matter of months, with 70 plus emcees and features from celebrity hip-hop artists like Common and King Louie. It’s powerful storytelling. “Music at its core is storytelling and all we want people to do is tell their stories. Because someone’s story may be the one that stops an act of violence,” stated Candido.

These organizations are showcasing how music education and cause marketing campaigns can touch hearts and end violence.


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About the Author
Emory Brown is an award-winning creative director/writer whose mission is to spread the gospel of what great marketers can do when they put their heads together and work together for the greater good and not the bottom line. Working with many esteemed clients, his portfolio of work ranges in genre from conservative to ultra-modern including American Family Insurance, United Airlines, Mazda 6 and RX-8, Illinois Lottery, Tyson, Miller Genuine Draft, Nike Air Force 1, and Mercedes Benz, to name a few.  
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