Coach recruits Lil Nas X as brand pivots towards expressive luxury


    • Coach released a new campaign, “Courage to Be Real,” starring rapper Lil Nas X, per details shared with Marketing Dive. The effort reflects a new brand positioning centered around self-expression.
    • A 90-second campaign spot shows Lil Nas X as he confronts obstacles on his journey toward authenticity. The ad showcases his latest song, “Star Walkin,’” and is directed by artist Petra Collins, who has previously worked with brands including Gucci, Calvin Klein and Fenty. 
    • This is Lil Nas X’s first campaign as the luxury brand’s new global ambassador and represents efforts to market to Gen Z and millennial consumers by focusing on values the cohorts are interested in.


    Coach’s latest campaign and new partnership with Lil Nas X marks a shift by the brand as it looks to market to the next wave of shoppers by tuning into keywords like authenticity and self-expression, which have become increasingly important values for Gen Z. 

    The campaign’s 90-second short-film begins with a quote by Lil Nas X that reads, “My whole career has been about breaking down doors.” In the spot, the rapper journeys through various flashback scenes meant to highlight his own personal journey and obstacles to self-acceptance, beginning with his days growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta and ending with the artist finding fame.

    “The film we created together is a new form of storytelling that not only feels unexpected and different for us, it helps to create a community around the values we share with the next generation,” said Stuart Vevers, creative director for Coach. 

    The “Courage to Be Real” campaign is Lil Nas X’s first as Coach’s new global ambassador, with the through line set to reappear along with the artist in future campaigns. The effort is also the first as part of the brand’s “expressive luxury” positioning that it unveiled last month, a shift away from its “accessible luxury” positioning in an effort to better market to Gen Z. Targeting the younger cohort could be promising for the leather-goods retailer, with millennials (39%) and Gen Z (33%) now representing the two demographic groups most likely to purchase such items ahead of Gen X and baby boomers, per a Klarna study. 

    Lil Nas X has increasingly become a Gen Z figurehead, having starred in a number of recent brand efforts. Most recently, the artist wrote “Star Walkin,’”  which is featured in the Coach campaign, for the League of Legends 2022 World Championship tournament. Last August, the artist was named “chief impact officer” at Taco Bell and the fast-food chain even made an appearance in Lil Nas X’s music video for the song, “Sun Goes Down.”


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