Asake And The Age-Long Strategy Of Outrage Marketing

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Asake, who is famed for his taciturn nature as much as his artistic genius, has taken to his social media platforms to make some controversial posts in a rare burst of extroversion. On Twitter, he put out a series of odd tweets, but while it was a first for the star, whose Twitter account ordinarily reads like the output of a well-trained PR manager, the tweets were benign. However, he took to his Instagram story later to share an incendiary video that depicted a man sharing misogynistic myths about the intelligence gap between genders. In the same week he also released his video for Only Me, his new single, which depicts a mockery of Christianity and Catholicism in particular. Reactions to these were, as one would expect, inflammatory, but of course Asake will not be surprised, because these posts were deliberately executed to draw the anger they received. Outrage fishing as a marketing strategy is now the first page of the publicity playbook, and a strategy that needs to be put to rest immediately. 

Asake lifts a mock chalice in his video for "Only Me".Source: Youtube
Asake lifts a mock chalice in his video for “Only Me”.
Source: YouTube

Even in the music industry, the quality of music is not the biggest metric of success. It is far more important how many people listen to the music, and to keep this number as high as can be, artists and their teams sometimes resort to publicity methods that are not always moral. Bad publicity catches on far better than good, so when artists organically find themselves at the forefront of a scandal, it is an opportunity to insert themselves back in public conversation, and some will capitalize on these moments to promote new music. Omah Lay’s most recent escapade, where he danced with a woman on stage while her boyfriend watched, put him in a position where he could reap from the increased attention without much of the blowback. Situations like these are a publicity goldmine, and sometimes artists go out of their way to force them by generating the controversy themselves. 

It is no coincidence that Asake is only now discovering the dark side of music marketing. Making his insane run to stardom in 2022 and maintaining his position the following year was powered primarily by the quality of his music, and very little was known of the man outside it. Only Me and Bust Down (with Zlatan), his only releases of 2024, however, have not replicated the impact that would be expected from Asake. It is far too early to rule that Mr. Money has lost some of his allure, but now Asake feels the need to generate some momentum to support the music. His method of doing so, however, exposes the ugly underbelly of music promotion. Like many of those who resort to it, Asake has made a cruel calculation. He has identified high-yield ‘soft targets’, demographics against which he can obtain maximum outrage without major blowback. 

Increasingly, Christianity is beginning to become the ideal target. Artists realize that Christians will not take kindly to mockery of their religion online, but will not become so incensed as to threaten real-life harm to the artist like, say, when Davido and Lagos Olori came under fire for Islamic references in their video for his single, Jaye Lo. In the end, those artists caved and released a new video. Christianity, being the more liberal religion, is less likely to call on violence, and so more likely to be desecrated.

The video for Only Me featured people dressed in priestly vestments while a gleeful Asake throws dollar bills at them in a mock deliverance session—for a song whose lyrics did not warrant such visuals. Adekunle Gold played along similar lines the following week, with a teaser for the performance video of his single, The Life I Chose which showed him wearing a crown of thorns as he sang his lines to a crucifix mounted nearby. He accompanied this fifteen-second tease with a youtube link to the full video, which, unsurprisingly, did not feature the controversial clip he used to promote it. It only went to reveal his motives lay in fishing for engagement and not any creative decision. 

A few days ago, BNXN conjured some controversy of his own in the build-up to the release of his signee, Taves’, new singles. A little comment by a Davido stan directed at BNXN escalated and BNXN wound up mocking Davido in retaliation. The 30BG camp was quick to draw swords to battle, as Mayorkun, Dremo and Logos Olori hopped into the ring in defense of their friend. BNXN ultimately deleted his tweets and apologized, but not before he achieved his aim of steering online conversation towards him and Taves’ new music. it may have, however, come at the price of a potential connection with a much bigger artist.

There is no indication that these artists will put an end to this practice, at least not by themselves, while it still remains a net-profit for them in the short term. It is then left to fans to starve them of the attention they crave by refusing to share or engage posts that insult them, or even outrightly blacklisting artists when they step too far out of line. In this way, they are presented with  reasons not to repeat them. As hard as it may be, learning to identify and ignore deliberately incendiary marketing tactics is the only way to ensure the artists behind them do not profit from these schemes.