By: Brianna Olson
The infamous rapper who "made *Taylor Swift* famous" took the stage in Grand Rapids, Michigan last month. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about Kanye West whose 'Saint Pablo Tour' sold out the Van Andel Area. Some people are repulsed by the bold things Kanye has said or done (mainly in regards to Taylor Swift). Personally, I was so excited to go but hesitant to announce it because of the controversy. Regardless of whether you're team Tay or team Ye, Kanye West sets the creative bar high when it comes to his personal brand and the strategies and tactics behind his show.
Strategy 1: Portray "Yeezus" nickname in the show.
Tactics: For those of you that are unaware, "Yeezus" is one of Kanye's nicknames that is a play on words with "Jesus". When I entered the venue 2 hours before the show was about to start, several smoke machines were on and creating foggy vision. The entire show was also in the dark minus the gold spotlighting from time to time. During the show, when Kanye sang his religious song titled ‘Ultralight Beam’, I realized that the foggy effect, along with the gold lights represented the illusion that the audience was in heaven and we were surrounded by clouds and the golden gates leading into heaven. This metaphor also explains Kanye's floating stage which moved throughout the crowd, which brings me to my next point.
Strategy 2: Make evident Kanye's diverse and all-inclusive beliefs.
Tactics: From Kanye's personal brand, it is evident that he supports the LGBT movement because of his support to his father-in-law, Caitlyn Jenner. Kanye also represents his south-side of Chicago roots; he makes clear in his lyrics to "Saint Pablo" that he might "die broke". Kanye appeals to a multitude of audiences based on his diverse beliefs and upbringing. At the show, his floating stage was angled at a slant so that his audience below could see him better. The stage also moved around all areas of the arena which insured that no matter how much you paid for your seats, Kanye was sure that everyone had an equal chance to be close to the stage. When Kanye started singing his second song, he paused in the middle of his song to say "I don't like these gates (which segregated the floor seats from the elevated seats) this ain't segregation, I wanna see all of you down in the pit."
Yeezus' personal brand is both creative and evident throughout his entire Saint Pablo Tour show. We should learn from Mr. West's creative strategies and the tactics that carry them out. Even if Kanye's twitter rants prove he needs a public relations professional, his self-made concert concepts prove otherwise. I will leave you with this quote from Kanye’s controversial song ‘Famous’ with my special remix: “Your team in GrandPR tryna try their best because we all just want to get Kanye Fresh”.
Bri Olson is a junior Ad/PR major at Grand Valley State University. Originally from the Chicagoland area, she’s loving all that West Michigan has to offer. She is passionate about photography and fashion which plays a huge roll in her creative mindset. She serves as the VP of Member Services for Grand Valleys PRSSA chapter and an Account Associate for GrandPR. Bri is currently interning for Gemini Publications where she manages the social media accounts for Grand Rapids Magazine and assisted in event planning for the 40 Under Forty party. Although she keeps busy, she loves being so involved with her career as a future PR pro. When she’s not making to-do lists or sending emails, you can find her snuggling up with her cat, Bella or exploring unknown areas of Grand Rapids.