Cross-posted at

The 2013 Afropunk Festival played host to almost 60,000 people over the course of its two days in Brooklyn, and probably 70% of them were either African American or part of the African diaspora. The success of Afropunk speaks not only to is success as a festival brand. More important, I think, is the presence of an audience that can support it. In that regard, this audience has been growing and evolving for a while, to the point where we see multiple expressions of what I call the #NewBlackImagination.

I define the #NewBlackImagination as a post-modern sensibility among some black folk, one that makes us re-evaluate our assumptions about race, gender, sexuality and–most importantly–representation. It’s about defying convention, breaking out of boxes, and questioning things we do, say or believe out of course. As I point out in the deck, you see it clearly

The bottom line for brands: It’s WAY past time for brands to get smarter about how they try to engage this audience. There’s a broader, more nuanced palette from which to draw. Just relying on hip hop isn’t quite as compelling and it shows that you’re being lazy. That’s not a way to capture the #NewBlackImagination.

This is a new area for brands, especially if you’re used to thinking of hip hop as your go-to channel for reaching today’s black audiences. The black alternative crowd is a growing cohort, and it’s one you’ll need to pay attention to. To get things started, I’ve made some recommendations at the end of the presentation. Take a look, and let me know what you think.



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