BUSINESS

Tony the Tiger: hiphop icon?

JORDAN TIMM May 5 2008
BUSINESS

Tony the Tiger: hiphop icon?

JORDAN TIMM May 5 2008

Tony the Tiger: hiphop icon?

JORDAN TIMM

Hip hop isn’t shy about commercialism. Rappers endorse everything from sneakers to champagnes, and an average lyric is loaded with name-drops of cachetrich brands. But those brands are usually the Nikes and Louis Vuittons of the world; is Frosted Flakes really in the same league?

The Kellogg Company hopes so. They’ve licensed their breakfast cereals’ cartoon mascots to the makers of a new line of streetwear. Under the Hood offers hoodies, T-shirts, jackets and jeans adorned with the catchphrases and images of Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, and Snap, Crackle and Pop. “Our demographic is teen and above,” says Kellogg’s spokeswoman Susanne Norwitz. “The products are progressive, colourful and active designs that incorporate the brands consumers have grown up with, while elevating them to a new level of style.” Though the clothing isn’t available in Canada, it has been advertised in major American hip-hop media outlets like XXL magazine. And while it’s hardly the first time that cartoon characters have featured in a hip-hop fashion statement—FUBU had a line of clothing in the ’90s that featured Fat Albert and thejunkyard Gang, for example—the incongruity of Kellogg’s attempt to enter the hip-hop environment is raising some eyebrows.

“If I saw somebody walking around in this stuff, I would have to try really hard not to laugh in their faces,” says Byron Crawford, a St. Louis-based hip-hop blogger and contributor to XXL. “Has the ’hood gotten that soft? That guys can walk around in this stuff and not get beat up?”

Crawford suspects the clothing is aimed not just at the young urban blacks portrayed in the ads, but also at the white kids who emulate their black counterparts—and if seeing the gear in XXL influences their choice of breakfast cereal, all the better. But is it hip hop? Crawford thinks not. “It just goes to show how out of touch these corporations are with the hip-hop community,” he says. And he adds that if any cereal really is hip hop, it’s probably “the kind you have to buy with the [social assistance] debit card.” M