Dre Wright explains how rappers miss major endorsements


Dre Wright knows his business. As senior director of business development for United Entertainment Group, Wright utilizes his instincts and his expertise regarding the worlds of entertainment and endorsements daily. Wright helps to cultivate leads, manage IP and develop new opportunities for UEG clients. He’s worked on campaigns for everyone from hip-hop star Nelly to the recently-launched “Queen Latifah Show.”

“My job is to go out and find partners that would either want to create segments within Queen Latifah’s show or would want to dive in and drive a program with the show,” Wright explains to RO. “It’s my job to know what the show would or would not do, what the networks would or would not do and I also have to know what the client on the other side wants–whether the client is Blackberry or Chrysler. I have to know if we are speaking to millennials or moms. I have to know what they need and fuse the needs of our clients to the needs of our partners and guide the process under the UEG umbrella.”

Having worked at Universal/Def Jam, Wright has a well-developed sense of what goes on in the world of entertainment–and not just music. The former athlete knows how to make connections and he admits that one of the keys to the business is flexibility.

“I wish there was a blueprint,” Wright concedes. “It’s really about reading each client differently. It really is about writing strategy. That’s really the core of our business. When I pick up the phone, I usually have ten minutes to sell UEG to our client before they say ‘Thanks’ or ‘No thanks.’ We’re strategy writers. We write strategy for you on behalf of your brand through the lens of entertainment. We look at you and say ‘How can we define your entertainment voice and what does that strategy look like?’ We have big clients or smaller clients. There really is no blueprint. I may see a campaign or a TV commercial–if they licensed a song, that let’s me know that they have an interest in getting a rub from entertainment. I’ll take my lead, call the COO or the CEO and I have ten minutes to basically sell them on my personality and really let them know that I like what they’re doing in a campaign.”

Wright’s advice for entertainers who are looking to expand as a brand is simple: understand corporate culture before you begin fielding offers from major clients. Too often stars don’t quite grasp just how much potential there is in a fruitful corporate partnership. Those stars need to understand how to connect with those corporations  in a way that can yield long-term benefits.

They also need to make sure their behavior isn’t too risky if they expect the kinds of partnerships that some A-listers enjoy.

“The one that I think really changed the game was 50 Cent and what he did with Vitamin Water,” he says. “I think in this day and age you have to have a social media presence. Each brand is recommending executions and programs. And for any program attached to the client, it all starts with can that talent distribute the message into their own proprietary footprint (Twitter or Facebook?) Is that client in cycle? And how clean are they?  Are they in domestic violence situations? Are they staying away from DUIs? Those are the filters.”

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