Mickey Pant, chief marketing officer of Reebok talked with Fox News David Asman on the Big Picture on Thursday. The conservative network is attacking the shoe company’s decision to put out a Jay-Z shoe for their Rbk line of street-inspired gear. Read on for a transcript.
David: lets talk with their top marketing man about this decision.
Pant: I think sO. It’s the first time in our industry that a range of
sneakers has been introduced for anyone other than an athlete. And, again,
jay-z, who pretty much personifies an image in the world of rap and hip-hop
is a great experiment.
David: Well, the problem is that some people say he personifies the
worst elements of hip-hop or rap. Those that are encouraging violence among
Pant: This topic has been discussed for a long time rap today is the
world’s largest selling form of music and sells 90 mile c.D.S and cassettes
and the argument that many people put forward, which I happen to believe
in all they’re doing is holding a mirror up to society and it is up for
them to judge iT.
David: Even rap stars have problems with jay-z’s past and things he
promoteS. Chuck D from public enemy said, and i quote, — He was talking
Pant: Well, i don’t know what he was referring to. I’m sure there is
a lot of controversy around each one of these people. But when we looked
at it, and particularly given his phenomenal success in music in the recent
past and the iconic status that he has among young people and appeal we’ve
seen worldwide we thought was a great decision.
David: there are a lot of people that have made a lot of money like
john gotti and so forth that you don’t want to promote just because they
made a lot of cash.
Pant: Absolutely. You have to judge him by your own. You don’t have
to go by what you read. If you see and listen to his music —
David: I did see jay-z’s rap sheet and it is an impressive, negatively
so rap sheet. When he was 12, he shot his brother in the shoulder for stealing
his jewelry. He was a crack dealeR. And a couple of years ago, he stabbed
a records executive because he though that executive was bootlegging his
music. Is this the right kind of representative for reebok?
Pant: The things you’re refering to are obviously not. But he is where
he is now. And the fact that he has tremendous appeal and produces great
music, i don’t for a moment condone any of what you said. And we have obviously
in our agreement, you know, clauses which assure us that he will, you know,
personify good behavior going forward.
David: Let me stop you right there. These things are in the industry
called morals clauses. I was going to ask. Is there anything that he would
do, which would allow you to exercise that morals clause? And what is it?
Pant: SurE. Sure. I mean, we’ll have to see. I can’t give a generalized
answer. But anything in common sense a person like you or i would uphold
as — would hold as being negative, not just as an influence on the commercial
interest of our brand, but in general as a position and —
David: Couldn’t you and i agree that a stabbing for which he was convicted
is a negative influence?
Pant: It’s in the past. I think we have to judge him from what he’s
standing for going forward. Our agreement starts early next year. We have
to see. These things are well in the past. The fact that a lot of his energy
and angst that he has and a lot of what he recommends and his appeal comes
from the fact that he had a disadvantaged up bringing. That is true for
a lot of people around the world.
David: I’m not deep in the rap coununity and I don’t know if you are,
but you’re probably not as deep as chuck d is from public enemy. He made
a statement a couple of weeks ago that jay-z presented the worst elements
of rap, the most criminal elements of rap. What was he speaking on, just
Pant: Well, i really can’t comment on thaT. I’ll have to look at exactly
what he said and what he was referring to. But i repeatedly say this tow
you, a lot of the musical energy and appeal that jay-z has comes from the
fact that he has a certain backgrounD. The man is now extremely successful.
I doubt very much he would do something to jeopardize it going forward.
David: There is precedence in the rap community for exactly that.
Pant: We’ll have to assess them as they come. At the moment, I feel
good about it.
David: You are chief marking officer for reebok.
David: Who are you marketing this sneaker f? Who kind of profile do
Pant: For fans of jay-z. As you know, he has a successful line of apparel
called rockaware and puff daddy has his line and fab four and others as
well. It is a growing phenomenon and very large segment now. You could
argue compared to the traditional old brand like levis and gap, they’re
the brands that have energy and actioN.
David: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s $150 sneaker, isn’t it?
Pant: That is about iT. We haven’t finalized the priceS. I don’t know
whether you can see the sneaker from where you are.
David: A beautiful sneaker. I’ve never bought one over $100.
Pant: This might be the time to start.
David: All right. Well, sneakers are not coming up