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Motown President Talks Branding in a Hip-Hop World

Photo: George Chinsee/WWD

Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam talks branding in a hip-hop world with other music executives at Advertising Week in NYC on September 25.

Habtemariam, who also serves as president of urban music/co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group, spoke about Motown artist Lil Yachty and how his personal style has influenced the brands that he’s worked with. “When [Yachty] spent time with our brand team, he really laid it out for them. He even brought clothes from his wardrobe and said, ‘I want to be in fashion placements and these are brands that I love,’” she said.

Yachty was named a 2017 creative designer for fashion brand Nautica and released his capsule collection for Nautica Holiday 2017 during New York Fashion Week. The 90s-nostalgic line is filled with boating-inspired colors and prints, representing his moniker and paying homage to his childhood friends and brand, the Sailing Team.

Earlier this year, Yachty–also known as the “King of the Teens”–posed in the exclusive Fall 2017 collaboration between Jeremy Scott and UGG.

Yachty has also partnered with Target in the “It Takes Two” campaign alongside Carly Rae Jepsen and starred in a 2016 Sprite commercial with NBA superstar LeBron James, featuring a play on Yachty’s hit single “Minnesota.” “In many ways, [Yachty’s] helped educate the brand,” Habtemariam explains of the many partnerships the 20-year-old has secured in his career.

Motown artist Chaz French also partnered with major sneaker brand New Balance around the release of his debut album ‘True Colors,’ which released in the spring of this year.

Ethiopia Habtemariam has been Motown president and president of urban music/co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group since 2014, and has been named on Billboard’s “40 under 40,” and “Women in Music” lists.

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