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Kanye’s questionable marketing methods has reasons to offend
many and attract none
By Jessica Ventura April 25, 2015 2:15 pm

Taken from Kanye West’s Twitter account on March 30, 2015

As music enthusiasts we consider
ourselves very informed about the new
upcoming music apps. So where were we when
Jay-Z’s new music app launched? Oh right, we
were under the misconception that Tidal was a
type of social justice campaign instead of an
app. Famous artists such as Kanye West took to Twitter on March 30th to spread the word about Tidal
without making it clear at the time what Tidal actually was. Through the use of a powerful hash tag, a
revolutionary claim, and requesting his followers to turn their profile page blue, Kanye misdirected
his fans. These three techniques are commonly used in order to represent social justice issues that
need attention, such as the well-known hash tag “#BlackLivesMatter” and the black silhouette that
represents Trayvon Martin’s death. However, Kanye’s tweet was only intended to lure his followers
to a music app that fell short from its revolutionary claim and the hype it caused. Mimicking the
rhetoric of social justice techniques to promote a new app is an insensitive move that should cost
Kanye West and other artists involved our respect.
Kanye’s tweet can be broken down into pieces but regardless of which way we choose to look
at it, it’s clear that he attempted to merchandise his app by appealing to the audience’s emotion. The
reason that hash tags such as “#BlackLivesMatter” and “#ICantBreathe” have become so popular is
because they have successfully targeted our emotions. When we see tweets or posts with the hash tag


“#ICantBreathe” we are immediately reminded of Eric Garner’s death, which emotionally impacted
many. These hash tags evoke feelings of outrage, resentment, and hope for change. Kanye, knowing
that fans weren’t clear on what Tidal was, used it to his advantage by creating a tweet that
emotionally appealed to his audience in a similar way. He easily lured his audience in with the first
sentence alone by “stimulating the audience’s emotion,” which is a popular rhetoric technique that
sets the necessary mood right from the beginning (Heinrichs 23). The tweet begins by saying,
“Together we can turn the tide and make music history.” Using the word “together” appeals to us all
because as music fans the idea of being a part of something with artists like Kanye makes us feel
special. Uniting himself with his followers gives off a feeling of exclusivity that his fans easily appeal
to, because it makes them feel happy and important. The tweet continues and Kanye says, “…we can
turn the tide and make music history.” At this point Kanye is making a revolutionary claim, which
makes his audiences feel like they have to absolutely be a part of it. Who wouldn’t want to be a part
of music history? So, with Kanye’s first sentence he has immediately set the mood for something
serious and important and has emotionally impacted the audiences by making them feel empowered
and exclusive.
Kanye’s second sentence is where it becomes clear he is misusing social justice techniques in
order to persuade his audience. Kanye says, “Start by turning your profile picture blue,” which is
what he has done to his own profile picture as well. Asking people to unite and change their profile
pictures together may sound familiar to many of you, because it has been done in many social justice
causes such as the death of Trayvon Martin. In the Chicago Tribune article was published titled
“Social media 'blackout' buzz as jury gets Trayvon Martin’s case,’” where the use of changing profile
pictures is discussed. Journalist Deanese Williams-Harris says, “Many have replaced their profile
photos on Facebook with a black square or silhouettes depicting Martin in a hoodie. The 17-year-old
was wearing a hoodie when he was shot and killed by Zimmerman in February 2012” (Williams-



Harris). As in the case of Trayvon Martin’s death, it is clear that choosing to change profile pictures
to a color such as black or a silhouette is meant to represent a cry for a social problem that needs
attention. The people who chose to change their profile pictures wanted to show their support and
expresses feelings of resentment and outrage. Another article came out recently addressing this
technique yet again, “On social media, the campaigns asked users to change their Twitter profile
picture to their logo, which is an image of a faceless woman’s silhouette and the words
As of Sunday evening, there were over 6,400 tweets using the hashtag #NotThere…” (Chittal). In this
article the author is addressing a recent movement that brings attention to a gender equality campaign
founded by Hilary Clinton. Similar to Kanye’s tweet, Hilary asked her followers to demonstrate their
support by changing their profile pictures and using a hash tag that represented the movement.
However, the difference between Kanye’s tweet and Hilary’s is that one was used to market an app
while the other was used to express social inequality. Kanye’s request to have his followers support
his movement attracted the audience because it targeted their emotions the same way Trayvon
Martin’s black out movement and Hilary Clinton’s social equality movement did, but it was clearly
misdirected towards a less significant purpose.
The third part of his tweet is the use of a hash tag, and although hash tags are used for many
different things, it is clear that Kanye intended to mislead his audience on purpose. Hash tags range
from being used for silly things to advocating important social issues. They also become popular the
more often they are used and they call this “trending,” and sometimes these trends could be on a joke,
a show, or important news. So the issue in Kanye’s tweet isn’t the use of a hash tag itself, but it’s
what this specific hash tag alludes to. As I stated earlier, Kanye began his tweet by altering the mood
of his audience and creating a serious tone. So, right away the audience believed this was going to be
a serious topic. Kanye then chose to end his tweet with the hash tag “#TIDALforALL,” which is
automatically a very powerful hash tag because he included “for all.” The “for all” of the hash tag is



what really led to the misconception of the app by his audience, because uniting people towards a
movement is a common strategy of social justice rhetoric. Many assumed that “#TIDALforALL”
would be a campaign involving artist that would speak out about the social issues happening in the
United States. Other campaigns that sound similar to this one are: “#ItsOnUs,” “#BlackLivesMatter,”
and “#YesAllWomen.” These hash tags listed all unite people on a larger issue by using words such
as “us,” “lives” and “all.” Therefore, Kanye’s use of “for all” was completely misleading because it
confused the audience in believing the hash tag would serve a larger more important purpose. It also
appealed to the audience emotionally because it immediately reminded many of the other important
hash tags.
The last problem that needs to be addressed is the reason why many of us jumped to the
conclusion that Tidal was a campaign that strived to help an important issue. Recently there have
been many African Americans being killed due to blatant racism and their lives have been
remembered and honored through the use of hash tags. Some popular ones are, #ICantBreath,
#TerrenceKellum, #Baltimore, and #Ferguson. All these hash tags represents people who have lost
their lives this year alone due to social inequality, and the only reason these people have been given
the attention they deserve is because of Twitter. Although Twitter is also used as a daily social
network, it has also begun a larger purpose of keeping the public united and active in a larger
movement. In 2015 cops have killed someone in the United States every eight hours, and it has led to
a rise of hash tag names that are meant to be remembered (Fairbanks). Kanye chose to make a
revolutionary claim, ask his followers to unite with him and change their profile pictures, and create a
powerful hash tag in the mist of all this turmoil. Knowing that so many deaths and social injustices
have become hash tags and been taken to Twitter, did Kanye intend to misdirect us?
Why Kanye chose to market his app the way he did will never be truly answered. Whether
Kanye intended to misdirect his audience or unintentionally stole rhetoric techniques from social



justice movements, the point is that there was clearly something troubling with his approach to
market the app. As a professional in the business world he should have thought more over the way
they would market this app. It is not only the fact that this tweet confused many into believing it had
to do with something else, but it’s also the fact that it diminishes the importance of hash tags that
actually represent social justice movements. If business owners believe they can all slap on a
powerful hash tag and include the word “for all,” eventually important hash tags such as
“BlackLivesMatter” and “YesAllWomen” will blend in with the rest of the hash tags and lose their
value and strength. I’m sure tidal is a great app, but with marketing as insensitive as this one I don’t
believe the app deserves our time or money.



Work Cited
Chittal, Nisha. "Women Disappear from Ads for #NotThere Gender Equality Campaign." NBC News Digital, 09 Mar. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Fairbanks, Cassandra. "Cops Have Killed Every 8 Hours in 2015, Sending At Least Three People to
Early Graves Per Day." The Free Thought Project. N.p., 16 Feb. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Heinrichs, Jay. Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us
about the Art of Persuasion. New York: Three Rivers, 2007. Print.
West, Kanye (kanyewest). "Together, we can turn the tide and make music history. Start by turning
your profile picture blue. #TIDALforALL" 30 March. 2015, 5:00 a.m. Tweet.
Williams-Harris, Deanese. "Social Media Blackout' as Jury Gets Trayvon Martin Case." Chicago
Tribune. N.p., 13 July 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.