Google Taps Ludacris to Roll Out ‘Black-Owned Friday’ Campaign

ludacris-google - Credit: Google
ludacris-google - Credit: Google

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One of the most visible brands in the world, Google has a massive megaphone that it’s trying to use to do some good this holiday season. The internet behemoth has teamed with Ludacris for Black-Owned Friday, an ambitious online ad campaign intent on amplifying African American-owned brands, especially during the critical Christmas shopping period.

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Black-Owned Friday, created in tandem with the U.S. Black Chambers, centers around a fun, vibrant musical component featuring a popular artist. The program debuted in 2020 with Wyclef Jean and Ari Lennox’s help, continued in 2021 with T-Pain and Normani, and is hitting new heights in 2022 with a Charles Todd-helmed video featuring an original song from Luda and burgeoning rapper Flo Milli. Nearly everything about the production, from the on-site photographers to nearly every featured product, has a minority-backed stamp on it.

According to a 2022 Brookings Institution report, of the 5.7 million businesses in the United States with at least two employees, just 2.3% of them are Black-owned. For Ludacris, teaming up with Google was a way to shine some light on those deserving companies on Black Friday and every other day.

“I’m a Black entrepreneur,” Ludacris tells Rolling Stone, from the Google office tower in Atlanta. “I love involving myself in things that I’m very passionate about. I see the impact that it’s having on our communities. And I know that during the pandemic, there were a lot of individuals searching more for Black-owned businesses. And what better way to do that than to help them figure out how they can find the businesses that they’re looking for, or the products that they’re looking for?”

A husband, father and three-time Grammy winner, Ludacris is also a busy Black entrepreneur. The rapper says new music is on the horizon, but he also reveals that he’s opening a second Chicken + Beer restaurant in the Los Angeles International Airport in 2023 to go with an already-flourishing location in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Google probably couldn’t find a more business-minded celebrity for Black Owned Friday’s marketing push if it searched for another year.

“The possibilities of building brands and how ideas can just come from creativity [is beautiful],” adds Ludacris, who added “show creator” to his resumé a year ago with the release of the Netflix cartoon Karma’s World. “And then you can expand. It’s all about expanding your business portfolio. Just continuing to evolve and grow is something that I’m very proud of.”

harlem candle co.
harlem candle co.

Labels like Urban Tea Party, T|W Tote and Harlem Candle Co. are buzzy, well-run brands on their own, but with this push from Google, they can reach an expanded audience. And thanks to the music video’s unique interactive shopping component, customers can click to make instant purchases of items they see. For many of the 70-plus companies featured in the campaign, that’s a potential gamechanger.

“I think what we’re doing is a great start,” says Luda, who will also be starring in the 10th installment of the Fast & Furious movie franchise next summer. “And I think that it’s planting a great seed because, once people are able to understand the direction to move in and making information easier to access, from there it’s like leading them to the water and teaching them how to fish. There are a lot of things that can be done, but I feel like this needs to be promoted to the fullest because this is the first step.”

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