JBL Virgil's Mixtape

JBL case keyvisual

Make our brand relevant in hip-hop culture

New era marketing is daring to change when the zeitgeist demands it. After a clear track record in Electronic Dance Music, JBL asked us to develop a brand activation campaign with which they enter hip-hop culture. A genre that is big within Generation Z, the intended target group of JBL. The new brand ambassadorship with Virgil van Dijk has formed the basis for the campaign in which hip-hop fanatic Virgil and his favorite rapper Winne put together a mixtape with up-and-coming talent. Both from an intrinsic motivation to give talent a stage, which means that this is not actually a campaign but a contribution to hip-hop culture.

The Idea

JBL, who doesn't own one of their products? It is a great electronics brand with high-quality speakers, headphones, soundbars and other audio products. In mid-2021 we won the pitch with the assignment: Develop a brand activation campaign focused on Gen Z with which allows us to enter the world of hip-hop as a brand. The new brand ambassador Virgil van Dijk had to play an authentic role in this. From that came Virgil's mixtape. Another football player who is going to rap? No, this time it's different. Music is an important part of Virgil van Dijk's life. It helps him focus, relax and motivates him to perform better. He is a big fan of hip-hop, R&B and afrobeats. He even selects the music that is played in the dressing rooms of FC Liverpool and Oranje every season to hype the players up for a match. He also finds it important to use his position to help young people move forward in their lives. That is why, as a brand ambassador, he offers musical talent the opportunity to develop themselves by bringing them together together on a mixtape. A mixtape that offers the talents a stage in the dressing room and of course far beyond.

Virgil is the main driver in creating the mixtape, but making music is not his business. That's why he didn't have to do it alone. Winne, one of the Netherlands' leading rappers, helped put together the tape and took care of the musical accompaniment of the talents. He is Virgil's favorite artist and Winne follows Virgil's career closely. This makes them a duo with genuine interest in each other. This ensured an authentic collaboration during the project.

Creating culture

Authenticity is a term you often hear in marketing. Many brands strive for it, but not everyone succeeds. For us, however, it is our number 1 rule. We create stories for the target group and not about the brand. Sincere connection and interest are the basis for this. It is only then that you are creating culture instead of just campaigning. What people often say is; when you like your job, it doesn't feel like work. With that mentality we organize the roles of all those involved. Because when you can express your passion in a project, it doesn't feel like a campaign.

"With brand ambassadors who work on a project based on intrinsic motivation, you create culture instead of a campaign."

The activation

The project consisted of different elements and phases. Via FC curfew, a popular Instagram evening show by Défano Holwijn, we have called on all the musical talent of the Netherlands to show what they have to offer. We went looking for rappers, beatmakers and singers. More than 400 people have registered, so the choice for Virgil and Winne was not easy. In the end, 15 artists were selected, 5 beatmakers and 10 vocalists. They were linked by Winne and they immediately went into the studio to record demos.

Creating the tape

By allowing the creation process of the mixtape to take place publicly via the 'buidling in public' principle, it became a product of everyone. Followers of the JBL Instagram channel could watch the artists in the studio through user generated content, interviews with the participants and followers of the JBL channel could participate in certain creative choices. Our media partners ParraTV, Complex and Rapnieuws also kept their followers informed of the latest developments, which gave the campaign visibility and added credibility.

In a joint studio session where the demos were finalized, there was room for the final feedback from Winne. “Getting feedback from Winne is just an honor.” according to participant Denzel Neville. “After all, he really knows what he's doing.” he added. The talents have worked hard. Many more tracks were made than would end up on the mixtape. Armed with all the demos, we went to the UK with Winne so he and Virgil could select the tracks that would be included on the mixtape and to give the mixtape a name. That became ‘Side By Side’, as the entire project was really a collaboration between Virgil, Winne and the talents. All these updates were also shared with the followers of JBL and via the media partners. This created an enormous amount of content and continued attention for this project.


Releasing the tape

After weeks of hard work, the time had finally come. The mixtape was ready and about to be released under Couture33, Winne's label. In an exclusive listening session, the music was shared for the very first time and Virgil and Winne introduced the talent to the big names of the music industry, press and influencers. That resulted in a small online take over that managed to hype people up for the official release later that week.

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Together with the release of the mixtape, the campaign film came online in which Virgil and Winne give the viewer a unique insight into their friendship, the work sessions they had together and share their motivation behind this project. How they, together with JBL, take the talents further in their careers through, for example, the feedback from Winne and how JBL offers them a stage. The video was deployed organically through Virgil’s and JBL channels and supported by our media partners. But also with an advertising campaign with short fragments to boost the traffic to the mixtape on Spotify and the content on Instagram.



Everything came together in a brand campaign that ran for five months, where Maak was responsible for the entire process, from concept, design and strategy to implementation, content creation and media reach. It was always a project with potential, but it really started to come to life from the moment the music was made. Couture33 was responsible for the music and together we eventually delivered a mixtape. A project with an enormous scope in all its different facets. But apart from the factual deliveries, this project has achieved so much more. It was a stepping stone for the talents in their careers, with some experiencing what it is like to get into an official Spotify playlist for the first time. Something that often only happens to big artists. Virgil was so excited that he proudly played the mixtape in the Oranje dressing room. That genuine passion and that they tell these stories makes it a projects that contributes to both football and hip-hop culture and therefore it doesn't feel like a campaign. In doing so, we have ensured that JBL has made an entry into the hip-hop culture.



"It's great to see that when you let go a little bit more of the campaign, no matter how scary, opportunities arise that you couldn’t have foreseen in advance."

In total, the project has had almost 38 million impressions, of which a total of 3.8 million video views, 9.9 million via media partners such as Punablog, Het Parool, Complex, ParraTV and Rapnieuws. 3.3 million via influencers and ambassadors such as Virgil van Dijk, Winne, Ta Joela, Youstoub, Marouan Meftah, 4Shobangers, Armin Shah, and so on. Furthermore, more than 600K + 9.7 million impressions via organic and PR reach. With 123K+ streams (and counting) on Spotify, we have surpassed the expected 75K streams. The ads scored +254% better than usual.

You can listen to the mixtape Side by Side here.

Omar Kbiri

+31 6 28986345

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