Off-guard was an understatement in regards to how I felt upon hearing my day job boss bring up K’Naan in casual conversation. Then, Google Reader hipped me to an article entitled, “Portrait of the Rapper as a Young Marketer: How K’Naan Delivered on Coca-Cola’s $300 Million Bet” and I remembered I had watched nil World Cup games. Either way, there’s a reason this Somalian singer/songwriter gets love from both middle-aged, Caucasian call-center managers and the world’s #1 brand and it’s more than just his potent product.
K’naan the Skinny splashes a bucket of soapy water against the wall of a house, exposing something round, small, and dull. He walks over to pick it up. It’s a grenade.
He passes it around to the other kids, who start tossing it to one another. They’ve seen grenades before and know they’re safe as long as the pin’s set. They’re playing catch, laughing, taking a break from the tedium of washing. But then two of them tussle over the grenade, and the pin pops free.
K’naan throws the grenade away, fast, toward the wall of the school. The kids run like hell. There’s screaming. Things go black.
Twenty years later, Coca-Cola will decide to build its biggest marketing campaign ever, a $300 million — plus global adventure involving 160 countries and the greatest sporting event in the world, around that skinny child from that godforsaken country.