Utilizing a comprehensive promotional strategy targeting specialized digital platforms in tandem with traditional marketing tools, Warner Bros. and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are celebrating the fruits of their endeavors.
While Lil Wayne may have copped the Billboard 200 crown this week, the venerable rock group bows at No. 2 with "I'm With You." Claiming first-week sales of 229,000, this project marks the band's sixth top 10 album. The act's last studio release, 2006's double-album "Stadium Arcadium," became its first No. 1 when it launched with 442,000.
The focal point of the multitiered campaign, Warner Bros. co-president/COO Livia Tortella says, was the music itself. "The band had already laid out extensive plans to tour and go to Europe," she says. "They had been gone for close to five years, and we wanted to showcase the strength of their music. Everything we did was to put the group's new music on a platform."
Reflecting the growing importance of iTunes and streaming versus five years ago, the label's campaign featured a listening party on iTunes that ran Aug. 22-29, followed by simultaneous worldwide Google online and in-person listening parties held Aug. 22-23 in London, Toronto, Tokyo, Sydney and Los Angeles. Following the iTunes stream of the set, the Peppers hit the top 10 of Billboard's Social 50 chart, moving 36,000 digital downloads of first single "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" during that tracking week, up from 19,000 the week prior.
Video: "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie," Red Hot Chili Peppers
Another cornerstone of the campaign was a movie-theater live broadcast of the band playing the whole album in its entirety-in sequence-as well as other fan faves from Cologne, Germany, on the set's Aug. 30 street date. The high-definition cinematic event was sent via satellite to select theaters around the world, with tickets going on sale Aug. 5 at participating box offices found at RHCPLiveHD.com.
Further promotional fortification came in the form of a marketing alliance between Fuse and Clear Channel Radio. The group performed a live show on Aug. 22 from the Roxy in Los Angeles under the "Fuse Presents" banner that was recorded; it aired Aug. 30. The 2-year-old live concert series has previously featured Linkin Park, Drake, Jay-Z, Elton John and Leon Russell and Maroon 5 from such New York venues as Madison Square Garden, the Beacon Theatre and Radio City Music Hall.
"This series features the biggest stars that elicit a cultural response. It starts with an act's core group of fans but is also designed to reach casual and new fans," Fuse senior VP of music and talent development Dave Weier says. With radio still an important medium to the Peppers' core fans, Fuse partnered with Clear Channel but also mounted a two-pronged attack on Facebook. A sweepstakes was held for one lucky fan to win a trip to the L.A. show, and a page was set up to preview two streaming songs. Traditional marketing tie-ins for the concert included outdoor and spot TV ads. In addition, the RHCP asterisk logo and footage from the Fuse broadcast were projected on the sides of buildings in downtown L.A. during the week of release.
And the marketing push is still going. The Peppers are taking over ESPN for the month of September, with the sports network featuring songs from the album. Started Aug. 1 and ending Sept. 15, a Shazam contest on iPhone and Android devices will award the grand-prize winner a trip for two to see the band in Paris on Oct. 18. Five runners-up will receive a prize pack including a copy of "I'm With You."
"The Peppers delivered an album with a capital A," Tortella says. "Not just a few tracks with filler. That's when you can afford to do something like this because you know people will want to buy in."
(Additional reporting by Kyle Bylin and Keith Caulfield in Los Angeles.)