Publicity stunts happen every day, but last week saw three whoppers.
*Indie duo (and romantic couple) Claire Evans and Jona Bechtolt, a.k.a. Yacht, said a sex tape of the two of them leaked, then admitted they’d fabricated the entire thing as an attention-grabbing stunt.
*Matador artist Car Seat Headrest (a.k.a. Will Toledo) had to scrap several thousand CDs and vinyl copies of his new LP, Teens of Denial, because a sample from a Cars song hadn’t been properly cleared. The label quickly turned the lemon into lemonade by widely publicizing the situation (and fielding many calls from collector-predator journalists — ahem — wanting copies of the soon-to-be-destroyed albums).
*Ozzy Osbourne “disappeared,” amid allegations of infidelity with a hairstylist, only to appear days later with his life Sharon at a press conference announcing the return of Ozzfest this summer, with Black Sabbath in the headlining slot.
How successful were these three plays? Eyes below…
Tactic: Fabricated sex tape
Costs: -One cheap camera with night vision ($119 on Amazon)
-One phony URL ($8 per month, $20 startup fee)
Return on Investment: -159,000 views of fake sex tape on PornHub in one week, compared to 129,000 views of single “I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler” on YouTube Since October 2015
-#Yacht a top three trend on Twitter behind #Trump
-Strained relationship with publicist
-Poster children of insensitivity around revenge porn
-Unrelenting media outrage from all of the sites they wanted to cover them
Verdict: FAIL — hell hath no fury like good will spurned.
CAR SEAT HEADREST
Tactic: Uncleared sample of The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” on new album
Cost: -Recalling and destroying 9,502 physical CDs & vinyl records
-Postponed physical release
Return on Investment: -Major coverage in Billboard, Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, Stereogum, others
-David vs. Goliath sympathetic spirit among fans and industry
-Attention from media outlets unlikely to have noticed original release
-Lost royalties on 2,500 CDs & 5,750 vinyl records (around $7,000-$9,000)
Verdict: Win! The scrapped discs probably paid for themselves in terms of publicity.
Tactic: Tabloid Infidelity allegations, followed by Ozzy’s brief “disappearance” — then both turned up for the announcement of this summer’s Ozzfest meets Knotfest event
Cost: -Sharon’s suite (from $705) and room service at the Chateau Marmont
-Hairstylist hush money
-Rental of Hollywood Palladium for press announcement
-Enhanced media focus on press conference
-#ozzfestmeetsknotfest trending on Twitter with 60 unique tweets per hour
Damage: None. The Teflon couple has been pulling the media’s chain with their “dumb as a fox” routine for centuries.
Verdict: Win! Whether a transparent play for attention or just-another-day-at-the-Osbournes, it worked.