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Kanye West slams brands that use celebrities as 'creative directors'


By Gillian West, Social media manager

June 17, 2014 | 3 min read

Kanye West has stated that it is "ridiculous" for any brand to give a celebrity a job as a creative director while adding that there is a need for "collaboration" between brands and tastemakers beyond the role of the celebrity spokesperson for rent.

Speaking alongside Andreessen Horowitz co-founder, Ben Horowitz, and Steve Stoute, Translation founder and CEO, West discussed the recent Apple deal with Beats Electronics.

Stoute claimed it could "open the door" for other brands to start collaborating with cultural innovators, actually bringing them into the fold and giving them a "piece of the action" and Horowitz argued that the cultural relevance the Beats deal has given to Apple is worth far more than the brand spent on the acquisition.

According to West "celebrity is the highest form of communication" but he added that he was fed up of brands trying to "rent" him as opposed to working with him;. "It's about connecting the right people with the right company" said West with Stoute adding at if there is no "authentic bond other than a big cheque it's an expensive mess".

One such "authentic mess" discussed at length by the panel was the ill-fated venture between BlackBerry and Alicia Keys which saw the singer take up the role of creative director at the brand.

"[It was a] last ditch attempt and she was set up to fail," remarked Stoute. "[The deal] didn't have the right principles...[the] creative has to be authentic as does the company."

West elaborated: "It's ridiculous to just give anyone or a celebrity a creative director role. And in my mind there are only three who could work - Ryan Leslie, and me - and that's because we're in it."

He also discussed how he "dreams of raising the palette and taste level of a generation" and explained how that dream is the crux of his famous "I am the Steve [Jobs] of the internet" comment in the New York Times in June of last year.

Giving weight to West's statement Horowitz added: "Kanye has already been the Steve Jobs of music. He takes a certain level of complexity and makes it available to the masses and it's that attention to detail, vision and ability to see things...if you don't continue to innovate as a brand or business you will die, look at the newspaper industry, it's had a 400 year product cycle, there's been enough time to find a better way of doing things."

West claimed that "one of the main barriers to collaboration has been classism, but technology has broken that," while also stating that it was time for "the best visual designers and content creators to be empowered".

West also stated that 'business guys' needed to be give creativity an opportunity in leading their companies and said that it was time for the best visual designers and content creators to be empowered to do so.

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