The Age of the Guerilla Marketing Campaign is Upon Us
18th September, 2013
A Slingshot favourite, Arcade Fire (yes, they are of Canadian origin – and yes, we are reminded of this each time they grace the office speakers – our MD’s Canadian) recently embarked upon a marketing campaign of epic proportions to promote their fourth studio album, Reflektor. For the past month or so, music blogs alike have been roused by the appearance of guerilla graffiti across the streets of the United States. For months, bloggers questioned the ownership of these cryptic symbols; fans were handed out at both Lollapalooza and FYF Festival emblazoned with the symbols and sightings began to spring up across Europe and through various social media channels. All of this, for an album release.
Gone are the days, it seems, of albums being released through traditional marketing campaigns – billboards being hung weeks prior to the release date and artists trudging around one radio station after another. Of course, these channels are still very much a part of the routine, but it seems that the advance of digital and social technology has disrupted the traditional model – opening a plethora of opportunity for those musicians with a unique vision, or ones (ahem, Katy Perry) that wish to wow with extravagance.
In light of the influx of guerilla and viral marketing campaigns, I have decided to put together my top 3.
The xx – Coexist
In poll position – For the release of their follow up to the critically acclaimed ‘xx,’ The xx embarked upon a marketing campaign that embodied so perfectly the power of word of mouth in the digital age. On 3rd September 2012, The xx gave one fan the location of a website which hosted a preview of the album Coexist. The Coexist streaming site featured a map tracking shares as they occurred with a beautiful visualisation, inspired by Aaron Koblin’s flight patterns. Just twenty-four hours after the stream was shared with a single fan on Facebook, the site crashed from the millions of streams, with the average user spending 2.1 hours on the site and what is more, you were able to see all of this unfold from your computer screen.
Nine Inch Nails – The Year Zero
Fans of Nine Inch Nails had been eagerly awaiting the release of the band’s new album; after examining one of their tour t-shirts fans realised thathighlighted letters from the shirt spelled out the phrase ‘I am trying to believe.’ As it turned out, this was a website filled with cryptic messaging. As fans began to delve deeper into the digital sphere, more and more clues began to emerge, phone numbers were uncovered within tracks and when called, fictional characters answered; flash drives containing the complete album were left in public toilets and Google Maps was utilised to award fans with free tickets and NIN memorabilia. NIN’s marketing campaign brought back the excitement of discovering music, making it all the sweeter.
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Not necessarily as show-stopping as the two previous examples, but the release of Radiohead’s seventh album, In Rainbows, wholly shook up a very stagnant music industry. Never one to shy away from controversy, Thom Yorke et al decided to dispel the on-going issue of illegal downloading and released their album directly to fans, with an offer; wait for it… to pay whatever they wanted. With 3 million downloads in the first year and $10 million in revenue, In Rainbows swiftly became the band’s most successful commercial success to date. What is most significant about this marketing campaign is that it restored faith within the music fan – emphasising that fans really are still willing to pay.