I got 99 problums but PR ain’t one

Public Relations are the mouthpiece of corporations without a doubt, and during today’s day and age, much like everybody else, sometimes they can put their own foot in their mouths. While driving, I was listening to rapper Jay-Z,  in his song Ön To The Next One” he caught my attention with one line through the full song.

“I use to drink Crystal but Motherf**ers racist”

That line alone led to a days worth of Google and realizing the perfect example of how Public Relations could put their foot completely in their mouths.

For a miniature history lesson, Crystal was the leading front runner item within the Hip-Hop-era along with the culture of your fancy Champaign-high-class-drinkers, in other words Crystal had the best of both worlds and selling for $300 a bottle. This craze developed making the brand of Crystal synonymous  with the word of Champaign.

Rappers usage of cristal.

During the Google sprint, I came across the statement that apparently ticked Jay-Z off, where President and CEO, Frédéric Rouzaud, the article posted.

“When asked about Cristal’s association with hip-hop, Rouzaud responded that he viewed it with “curiosity and serenity.” He went on to say, “What can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

In laymen’s terms he’s saying we can’t forbid people in the hip-hop culture from buying the product or showing off the product in the way their glamorizing the Champaign, but he would love for hip-hop artist to choose another product over his own so the name of Cristal could have a cleaner image.

In almost immediate backlash, Jay-Z responded by saying “I would never ‘drink Cristal or promote it in any way or serve it at any of my clubs’ for what he felt was off hand, patronizing disrespect for the culture of hip hop.

As you could imagine anyone who embraces a product for several years, supplies the product throughout their clubs and flashes the product through their million-dollar video shoot, only to find out the president of the product wants everyone but your culture buy the product, would be pretty upset to say the least.

So in response the Jay-Z along with a horde of other rappers has done the only logical thing to do, waging war against crystal, urging many of their fans along with friends alike to buy their secondary choice of product, being champaign Armand de Brignac, also known as the “Ace Of Spade”, which has received a number of “shout out’s” ever since. Even entering the rhymes of Jay-Z as on the same song, in fact, the next line he stated’.

“So I switched Gold Bottles on To That spade”

  Jay-Z with his new favorite champaign

Currently, while mid-war continues, Armand de Brignac’s currently the #1 selling champaign in the world, while I’m not sure where crystal ranks, but the status is not close to where it was when the hip-hop community was supportive.

During this interview below, Jay-Z speaks on the issue during the final seconds of the video, still an entertaining interview to say the least.


After hearing this, I could only draw two questions along with two conclusions which is, was Crystal wrong, and are rappers or any musicians better at PR then…. (wait for it) ACTUAL PROFESSIONALS (dramatic music). My answer, yes to both. How do you feel?




29 thoughts on “I got 99 problums but PR ain’t one

  1. Antonio,

    I think that the CEO of a company should know better than to alienate a group that consistently uses their product. Is it so important to them to have only the clientele they are specifically reaching out to that they don’t want other people using it in the public eye? That seems a little bit extreme. If this was really their angle it seems like they would have just changed their marketing and advertising techniques to attract more people that they want drinking their product. Rouzaud’s PR people must not have guided him in making a statement, which illustrates as we’ve talked about in class that presidents and CEOs of companies sometimes need extra guidance to say the right things and know what their product is promoting. They aren’t all PR trained like the PR professionals- are you saying that rappers and musicians are better than PR professionals, or just job professionals?


  2. Just Job professionals, or in some cases PR professionals, Rouzaud’s comments affended a lot of people, many of them personally, and it’s very shameful to see that this is how someone reacts when, what it seems like their not guided by a PR pro. but I would stick to saying rappers are better then job professionals because PR pros are just that PR pros, it’s tough to beat a basketball player at basketball and you play hockey (I made myself chuckle) but I figured if you want someone to represent your stuff in the public eye, why not someone with a large fanbase, or in their case, multiple people with large fanbases

  3. I don’t think the CEO of a multimillion dollar company is really that uninformed (dumb)!! He might not be an expert on PR but he knew very well what he was saying. He did not want his product to be associated with this culture and he chose fair and polite words to send his message across. I think it is kinda ridiculous that Jay-Z turned this to a racist kinda ordeal!! What is racism has to do with anything in this situation. The guy doesn’t want his product to be associated with this kinda music. He is marketing his product to a certain group of people and he wants to keep it that way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If Country singers were the ones who used it, he would probably have said the same. Most probably he wants to associate his product with Chopin and Mozart not Jay-Z and Snoop Dog, which is fine; that’s the marketing segment he is targeting. You can’t just call people racist because they don’t like certain kind of music, it really amazes me how we turn everything to either race or religion issue!!

    • I’m sorry, but I had to comment. I do not believe that Jay-z was turning it into a racial issue just by looking at the comments posted in this blog (I might have to do some more background info into it). This CEO targeted the entire hip-hop culture, and since Jay-Z is heavily a part of that, he took offense to it. I’m pretty sure the Dixie Chicks would have done the same thing if we used your comment about country singers. And you have to look at the facts here: The Hip-Hop culture may be liked by all types of people, but the mainstream of rappers and influential people in Hip-Hop are black. Just stating the facts here. I would take a second look at this myself. So, no one is even talking about racism or anything, but when you really look at it, it can cause at least one person to raise their eyebrow.

      • I don’t understand why are you saying that no one is even talking about racism. Aren’t those Jay-Z’s words in the song – “I use to drink Crystal but Motherf**ers racist.” Did he not mention the word racist? :))

  4. Antonio,
    I disagree with this being a racist issue,,but IGNORANCE would sum it up! Just because black rappers like to exploit it in their videos doesn’t mean that other groups of people can’t buy it. What does that have to do with them? So in other words what the ignorant CEO was saying was that since black people associate Crystal with Hip Hop, its giving the champagne a bad reputation? Thats crazy talk, especially when these hip hop artists are actually the ones promoting the product, without being offered a dime to do it. They just enjoy it! So really, the CEO of Crystal was Charlie Sheen winning! And I have a question for Midu000 and his comment about the CEO wanting to market his product to a “certain group of people”……..that sounds alittle bias and discriminatory if you ask me. If I designed shoes for a living, why would I want to pitch them to a “certain group of people”? I wouldn’t care who’s buying them….black blue, white, orange whatever! If I had that attitude my product would never sale. And that’s why the CEO of Crystal is no longer the top dogs..Oops!!!!!

    • Again :)) you are taking it the race route. He wants to market his product to a certain group of people, meaning, a certain segment in the market, WHO in that segment, does not matter! It has nothing to do with African Americans, he never said that, it has to do with the market segment. Let’s say he wants to market his product to people who live in urban areas with income between 100k and 250k between the age of 35 and 65, that’s a market segment. Who’s included in this segment is not the issue, they can be white, Asians, Black, Hispanic, it does not matter, but this is the segment he wants to market to. So people from lower income and who live in big cities should get mad then that he wanted to target this segment in his marketing, I don’t see a good reason for that. Every company has a market segment that they want to target, Gap, Inc. they make Banana Republic where the shirt cost around $100 and they make Old Navy where the shirt is around $15. Same company, two different market segments. Where does Rolex watches advertise, do they advertise in Rolling Stones magazine and Seventeen, obviously not, they advertise in Bankers and financial magazines and Forbes.

  5. Is there a video of this CEO speaking this quote in context? Or was it a written article (source please!)? I feel like I might be misled. I can’t tell if he was saying “Eugh, I wish these rappers wouldn’t flaunt our product like they do and just use something else.” For me, it almost sounds like he’s mystified (hence the “curiosity and serenity;” lol, what a pretentious reaction), as if saying, “I have no idea why rappers like flaunting our product! There are so many other products who would love that exposure, but they’re using ours!”

    But the “But we can’t forbid people from buying it” portion is what makes it even stranger, and makes me wish I could hear the words audibly to understand how he said it. I also wish to know what the reporter/writer/interviewer’s exactly-worded question was to elicit the response; I think that would help me really see whether this was an “ew no” or a “haha I have no idea man” kind of statement.

    I guess that doesn’t matter much after Jay-Z’s reaction, though, does it? No idea if it was justified or an overreaction, but when a powerful voice like his speaketh against something, you can bet that something’s going to have a bit of a time gaining credibility in that audience market.

    I’d like to believe an executive like that would have a little more tact and, er…eloquence? For as curious and serene he is. Lol. But really, I’d have to see the source of this quote in more than text to really get a sense of what was conveyed. I understand what was gleaned from it, and it really was a remark of desire to separate from rap culture, I believe the reaction was justified. Don’t like how I roll, product-maker? Well, fine. I won’t buy your product or recommend it to anyone I know! Reap what is sown, etc.


      • I agree, this is a well put reply, and I agree with Laura. I, too would like to see where this originated from to know if was misconstrued in any way. If it was misconstrued, then people are all upset for nothing. If that is truly what the CEO meant, then, that would be very silly of him to say something like that, whether he wanted his product to be associated with them or not. Whether that CEO likes it or not, those rappers are paying his bills and providing tons of profit.

      • Really agree with you Laura. I don’t know what to make of it myself and would really like to hear the entire context, since that is just one portion for me.

  6. I agree that both were out of line, but I think Rauzard comment was more out of line because he reacted so negative to a situation where he was gaining the maximum benefits then he said he didn’t want “them” meaning hip-hop artist to show the product they way they’ve been showing the product. If Rauzard wants only the finest-mozart listners to drink his champaign then I feel he should have addressed that specific crowd of people, but to single out hip-hop artist just seemed kind of wrong to me

  7. Martiese I had a really deep-thought comment to reply to what you said, but I can say is that I completely agree. For Rouzard to address things the way he did was completely uncalled for.

    And I can’t find any audio either laura, but I can assure you for Jay-Z to respond the way he did, things must have been as serious as we believe them to be, because this is not the first song where he addressed Cristal owners and the product in this way. That comment rubbed him the worng way and faced immediate backlash

  8. Obviously with the increase in crystal sales the celebrities are the best promoters. We all know about the “band wagon” technique, and the humans need of belonging. Even with the help of a P-R firm, assistant, or specialist, it takes word of mouth to pass along the message. Thats just what these celebrities do! They act as catalyst to support and promote the material objects that make them happy so that you could possibly enjoy them as well. This example is similar to the situations when the Aeropostal brand (don’t quote me) that made a statement suggesting that a member from the Jersey Shore cast couldnt publicly wear their brand because of the statement that it made.
    I don’t know if its just me, but if i had a money making entity it would be to expand on my current markets, and to search and possibly create MORE . More money is the motive right?
    Every brand has a certain amount of equity and i feel that with Crystals equity *previously* at an all time high to all of its markets-It could have surely kept that statement.

  9. I find the way rappers and people in the entertainment world market themselves to be fascinating. Crystal didn’t do their research. If they had they wouldn’t found that despite the image associated with their brand, the hip hop subculture were carrying sales on their backs. Who cares if JayZ puts the brand in his or T.I want to spray $300 a bottle champagne over fans. If Beyonce desires to fill her $50,000 55k gold bath tub with the drink WHO CARES !! Of course the President can say what he feels but he should think wisely before doing so. Though I can’t see how he thought his statements would lead to anything progressive. Why push business away? That’s not the brightest idea. JayZ , amongst many others are worth more than millions and you pass them off to Dom Pérignon like their money isn’t good enough.
    From a PR perspective I understand the lack of interest. Hip Hop = destructive, dangerous, unappealing for business especially to the corporate world. Which is quite unfortunate if you ask me. I mean honestly, do you think rappers are doing anything more undesirable than the fancy high society folk good enough to pop a bottle of Crystal.

  10. It seems to me that there is many sides to this. I think Jay Z may have taken the comment the wrong way. I agree with what Laura said about how the statement was actually said and if that is what Rouzaud actually meant. From Rouzaud point of view I have no idea why he didnt’t want rap celebs showing off his product all over they place, not to mention the profit they make weither the celeb sprays it all over their fans or ordering it in their favorite resturants and clubs! They are basically advertising and showing off your product for free. Not to mention other audiences that it may eventually reach out to. Companies like Ciroc have P. Diddy in all of their commericals, doing their advertising. When Crystal was basically getting that for free, from multiple rap celebs. From a business point of view, when creating a company, wouldn’t you want your company to be number one or the best? So that it would continue to grow. As from Jay Z’s point of view I can see how he took it affensivly. Why wouldn’t Rouzaud want Jay Z showing off his product, he is a very successful person.

  11. I think it’s a terrible mistake in regards to the CEO’s decision to estrange a culture that, not only consumes your product, but unofficially endorses it as well. Whether or not you WANT to be associated with hip-hop culture or not, the fact that they took it upon themselves to serve it in their clubs and enjoy it on their own is marketing that fell into their laps. TAKE IT AND RUN WITH IT!!!

    I won’t compare celebrities with PR professionals because the CEO of the company may NOT be a public relations professional, but maybe just a higher-up employee with an opinion that turns into a PR pro’s nightmare with his comments. Celebrities are all over media, therefore those that choose to follow will demonstrate a sort of loyalty to them, rather than what THEY endorse or in this case, boycott. Fans have a personal allegiance to the celebrities they love, and therefore, in order to feel more like one themselves, or like they have something in common with their favorite star, will do what they say and what they do.

    Do celebrities carry more weight? Yes they do. Are they better than PR Pro’s? It’s apples and split pea soup (further apart than oranges).

  12. I agree with Laura’s response and she said it very well. At first, i was shocked that someone of a CEO status to say such an ignorant comment, especially if that’s what he meant. And he should have more class and common sense to watch what he says, but we all know how the media can twist and turn things to exaggerate what was actually said. But if Jay-Z was upset enough to include it in a song, Rouzaud was probably in the wrong.

    I think celebrities are excellent PR people, and they don’t even know it. I’m sure, however, there is a little PR birdie telling them to stick with a product (maybe they’ll get endorsements due to their own promotion)


  13. I’m not even in this class, yet I feel compelled to offer my take on this issue.

    I can empathize with this CEO and I think I understand where he’s coming from and what he was trying to communicate.

    Hip hop lyrics (while not exclusively) often promote extremely violent and severely misogynistic ideals. For proof of this simply look to the title of this blog which is an alteration of one of Jay-Z’s more popular little ditties entitled “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” using the word bitch to reference women. Throughout the song, Jay-z talks about having drugs: “in my trunk is raw” (cocaine that is), as well as what could be considered very sexist language such as “once upon a time, not to long ago, a n!@@a like me had to strong-arm a hoe”, not to mention the use of the B word like a zillion times. (And btw, I don’t know about you, but to me to “strong-arm a hoe” alludes to coercing a woman into a sexual encounter which sounds a lot like rape.)

    In addition to the lyrics, the video for this song only features women as half naked dancers, completely objectifying and degrading them. As well as that, there is a scene of Jay-Z being pulled over by the police with what is assumed to be a large amount of cocaine in the trunk of his car. Lastly, towards the end there is what seems to be simulated dog-fighting which is illegal, not to mention horribly cruel and morally reprehensible.

    Tell me, are any of these things classy? If you were the CEO of a company that manufactures a product that is supposedly “high-class”, would you want it associated with dog-fighting, cocaine-selling, and the horrible objectification of women as sex objects? I certainly wouldn’t.

    I think what the CEO was trying to communicate is that Cristal is a drink to be consumed by people with class, regardless of race, and that people with class don’t refer to women as bitches or hoes, they don’t publicly promote selling crack cocaine or other drugs, and they don’t fight dogs. Just because someone has a lot of money does not automatically give them class. I feel that the CEO felt that his brand was being hijacked solely because of it’s exclusivity and price tag, and it upset him.

    I agree that PR-wise he should have handled it differently, but I totally agree with his reasoning. Race has no issue here. It’s not that the CEO doesn’t want black people drinking Cristal, it’s that he doesn’t want Cristal to become associated with low class things such as misogyny, drug dealing, and dog fighting.

  14. I absolutly don’t understand why the CEO would say that, he obviously had not did his research or his statement would have been completely differnt, or worse if he did do his research and still made that staement, only one could wonder if he’s actually racist (according to Jay-Z) and to piggyback off of taylor I believ celeberties are the best PR people because their out in the public, so for someone as background as the CEO of Cristal champaign to offend someone as front foward as a Rap Megastar still bothers me, BUT IF WE SHALL TAKE ONE THING OUT OF THIS IS THAT HE GOT HIS WISH. Now he does not have to worry about anyone in Hip-Hop buying his drink, or any of their fans, or their fans friends…. thats a lot of people

  15. I have commented to some replies, but for the sake of a huge reply to gain credit, I will reiterate what I’ve said. Even though mainstream, influential voices and faces of hip-hop are majority African-American, I do not believe that this was an attempt to turn this into a racial issue on Jay-Z’s part or on any of our comments. People really have to understand, words in a sentence can make or trigger multiple meanings to different people. No one made this into a racial issue in our comments to my knowledge, it was really grouping the hip-hop community and saying (based off of what I know the CEO to have said in the context of this blog) that they are not “good enough” to use Cristal or have negative images attached to the popular brand as a direct result of influential hip-hop artists using the champagne.
    Which brings me to my second point. I completely agree with Laura. In this blog, we’re really getting the entire jist of the comments form Jay-Z, but we really can’t make objective opinions without being able to read the comments from the CEO in its entirety or even hear it. If given that opportunity, we would be able to make complete decisions about our stance and opinion, having all the information that we need. It’s hard to understand his real meaning because the first part contradicts the second. Based off what I know, I would say that he is concerned with the message that is being sent out with hip-hop artists using his product, like refinery and class are taken away from it. In all actuality, I had never even thought twice about Cristal until i saw how much it was being used by people I knew who listened to hip-hop. Thorough-bred, classy, well educated people who just happened to like hip-hop. I’m not going to tell you what I like ( Dom Perignon Rose when I drink champagne, but I opt to drink Pinot Grigio), and I was going to give it a try, but now, I really don’t want to. this whole thing reminds me of the incident surrounding Tommy Hilfiger. Why would you put down or try to “ex” out one of your biggest consumer groups? I guess when you have it like that, then you can do it. But one thing they need to learn is, money is green and has no group or affliliation.
    This is another perfect example of a CEO not thinking before they say things. Maybe he didnt even mean it in the context that it was taken in, but I’m curious to know what damage control was done on behalf of the PR firm or agency representing him. Did this make a difference? Or was this not considered detrimental to the Cristal brand, so no action was taken?

  16. I think that it wasn’t really PR putting its foot in its mouth, but rather the Cristal person himself. He made a comment that he didn’t think would be a big deal and it was blown up; maybe out of proportion. It was a very dumb move on his part, considering the fact that people do tend to blow things out of proportion. I think the comment was just an answer to a question that he really couldn’t figure out a smarter way to answer.

  17. Antonio,
    As my colleagues have stated, I think that Jay Z bringing up the issue of race is definitely a mute point. Which is why I’m just now hearing about it because that argument is invalid. To answer the questions you posed at the end of your blog, I actually don’t think it’s a question of who is better at PR. Rappers also have their own PR folks just like the CEO of Cristal. Rappers tend to want to create a fantasy world that the regular person would want to be apart. Drinking a $300 dollar of champagne is a sad part of that fantasy because people who probably can’t afford will buy it and regret it later. Anyway that is another point. I believe the CEO knew exactly what he was saying. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if hip hop artists stopped talking about his product. Hip Hop has such a bad reputation. He is a businessman, his first priority is to make a profit and a good impression.

  18. @ Orlando I agree! Champagne and Vodka CEO’s care more about their profit than anything, but I can understand where Antonio is coming from. It’s the music moguls and celebrities that’s contributing to the booming business of alcohol. It also can go hand in hand with them using PR tactics to help each other!

  19. It makes more sense to embrace any mention of a product, so I don’t really understand why Cristal would have a problem with rappers or people entrenched in hip-hop culture using their product. As mentioned above, it’s kind of vague to tell whether or not this was supposed to be an insult until he said “We can’t stop people from buying it.” Why would you want to?! I don’t think it matters which rich people are buying it…if Cristal was worried about image, they worried for no reason and ended up potentially offending a lot of people (and definitely offending Jay-Z).

    Also, your title was super clever, Antonio. I like it!


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