Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Janelle Applequist, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Travis Bell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher Noland, Ph.D.


Pharmaceutical Fetishism, Product Placement, Attribution, Promotion


Music is not only a lucrative mass reach media (Stassen, 2021) but also a deeply personal tool for self-expression (Hallam, 2019). Music listeners are exposed to a slew of branded messages within music promoting a variety of product types such as apparel, automotive, and alcohol (Craig, Flynn & Holody, 2017). Promotion in music has been proven to be an effective vehicle for building brand awareness when listeners are interested in the music (Delattre & Colovic, 2009, Hoyer & Brown, 1990; Macdonald & Sharp, 2000; Thoma & Williams, 2013). Brands promoted within music enjoy some of the benefits of promotional tactics such as celebrity endorsement as well as the benefit of the mask product placement provides, where the existence of persuasive intent is not obvious. The extent to which branded alcohol promotion is occurring in music (Parsons, 2019) and the effects of this promotion has been explored (Primack et al., 2014). Prescription drug brand promotion in music had not received the same level of attention prior to this study. To address this, a content analysis of popular hip-hop music from 2016-2020 was conducted and found branded prescription drug mentions in an average of seven songs per year. The prescription drug brands most often promoted were Percocet and Xanax. In-depth interviews were conducted with listeners of hip-hop music to get a deep understanding of their ideas and opinions about the promotion of prescription drug brands in music and the brands being promoted. These interviews uncovered that the participants were not able to clearly define why they believed artists chose to include prescription drug brand names in their lyrics. But they did not believe the mentions were being paid for, or sponsored by, the pharmaceutical companies. Additionally, the pharmaceutical fetishism (Applequist, 2018) of the prescription drug brand being promoted was apparent.