Toronto-born rapper Drake's new video released this week, will catch the eye of many Canadians with its images of Toronto – its streets, soccer fields, and skyline. And a prominent Canadian retailer is also gaining exposure thanks to Drake's celebrity touch: Shoppers Drug Mart Corp.
But while many marketers spend a great deal of money and effort to be associated with a star of that calibre every year, Shoppers does not appear too keen to advertise its appearance in the video.
The storyline behind the video for the song "Started From the Bottom" includes shots of Drake and two friends, clad in standard Shoppers uniforms, working as cashiers and stock boys.
But while this may be the first time one of its drugstores has been accorded any street cred – a shot in the video shows Drake performing in the toothpaste aisle as confetti rains down – the characters in the video hardly behave according to the employee handbook.
During an extended and not very funny skit that interrupts the music, the two friends are shown at the cash register hitting on a female customer. When she holds up a Life brand product to ask if it is on sale, one character is incapable of answering the question – or fixing his gaze above her shoulder level.
A request for an interview about the video was not granted this week, though a Shoppers spokesperson did respond to some questions by e-mail.
"Drake's production team requested to film a portion of his newest music video in a Shoppers Drug Mart store as they wanted to depict something that was uniquely Canadian. We agreed to allow the filming to show our support of Canadian artists," Tammy Smitham, Shoppers vice-president of communications and corporate affairs, said in an e-mail this week.
Ms. Smitham did not respond to questions about how the company feels about the finished product. While product placement is a highly valuable tool for marketers, being associated with "the bottom" that Drake boasts about rising himself up from is not the kind of message a company would usually hope for with a paid product placement.
The company made available a Shoppers in Binbrook, Ont., in southeastern Hamilton, to accommodate Drake's team's request for a location near Toronto or Hamilton. The store closed early one evening for filming.
"The scenes depicted in the video are fictional and we had no control over the content contained within," Ms. Smitham wrote. "The story and concept were developed by Drake and the production team."