In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ll dedicate this post to all the empty boxes of Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pies everywhere.
I’m sure, matter of fact, I’m super sure, you’ve heard of the Internet sensation, James Wright, who catapulted Patti LaBelle’s pies to become an overnight success with his singing sweet tooth Facebook videos. Many of you probably thought (myself included), while watching the video, “Patti got pies in Wal-Mart?”
I too laughed at his rendition of Patti’s classics with every bite and I too wanted to sample of piece of this taste-so-good-make-you-sing-like-Patti-pies. But, then I remembered that the way my bank account is set up, Patti and her pies are just going to have to wait.
James is everywhere. He made to Huffington Post, found himself on the 6 o’clock news across the country, Hollywood Today Live and even received a call from Patti herself. I mean all he wanted us to do was tag her in the video. In it’s first week, the video had over 6 million views. You have got to make a call to the source with that type of free advertisement; which James said happened in an interview with Fox 25 News.
Now I believe James deserved a shout-out at the most and maybe (maybe) a sponsored Thanksgiving dinner.
But what I don’t get is why people feel Patti needs to extend her kindness into dollars to show just how truly appreciative she is. I don’t see James asking for money, so why do we feel he needs any? I know a check seems like the right thing to do, but how do we know he is not satisfied knowing his idol knows of his existence? I’m not saying I idolize her, but if Oprah knew my name that would be enough.
I feel as though that as much as we want to think it was those pies that made James a star, it was indeed James. From his theatrical personality, humor and his unforgettable singing voice, James was already a star in his own right. Throw in a Patti Pie and, well, you have just concocted the perfect viral video. James could have simply taken a bite and given a thumb up, but it was his persona that truly won people over—not the pie.
I’m sure when James made this video he wasn’t thinking of a strategic social media product branding plan, dude just made a video because he wanted to. I’m sure he didn’t even think it would blow up. If you check his FaceBook profile, you can see he has countless videos prior to the two that introduced us to him, which has since been transitioned into a public figure page that has over 300 hundred thousands followers.
What James did was simply a voluntarily food review. He was not in contract to be compensated for any of his statements. No different from us a posting a picture of our meal from restaurant on our Instagram accounts, proclaiming a particular establishments food excellence. James could have been singing about a bag of Combos and everybody would have been at their nearest gas station buying a pack saying they didn’t know how good they are.
My point is: Patti doesn’t owe James a thing. Now if James doesn’t jump in a window of opportunity that would be the true shame. Patti expressed how much of a blessing James’ video was in an interview with Madame Noire, where she said the two are in hopes of recording music together because James has an amazing voice, which no one can deny.
Before my new friend, James, put that new video on, the pies were selling great. But he woke up a lot of people and turned them on to my Patti pie. I’m going to meet him today. We’re spending four days together in Philadelphia, and he’s going to come to my house for Thanksgiving dinner.
I think this is an important lesson in the power of the Black dollar and social media. Flocks of people made their way to the nearest Wal-Mart to buy those pies. Not because they tried them and they tasted so good but because of identifying with the subject in the video, the content and the familiarity of Patti Labelle and the convenience of Wal-Mart.
Patti LaBelle and her pies are a prime example of creating our own wealth and reclaiming not only the power, but also the route of Black dollars. Store brought desserts are not typically a huge purchase for African Americans since each family is equipped with a mother, aunt and/or grandmother who knows how to make soul food magic.
According to a recent Nielsen study, Black households make an average of 156 shopping trips a year and 56 of those to grocery stores. Nielsen predicts by 2017, the Black buying power will reach $1.3 trillion. I do believe a reason Patti’s pies are so popular because we know where our money is going: to a Black entrepreneur. Regardless if you agree with me, you know that means something.
Don’t wait for Wal-Mart to restock, serve your own sweet potato pie from Patti with this recipe.