Savvy album launch may help stop sun setting on Coldplay popularity

Coldplay have always been a bit of 'Marmite' band: to fans they are one of the world's finest; to detractors, they produce 'music for bedwetters'.

Coldplay's smart media strategy in releasing its new album deserves credit, argues Gareth Thomas
Coldplay's smart media strategy in releasing its new album deserves credit, argues Gareth Thomas

Whatever your view of their music, PR professionals should take their hats off to the clever launch of their eighth album, Everyday Life, this week.

The band started teasing the announcement around a week ago, using mysterious billboards around the world.

So far, pretty standard stuff.

But the clever bit is how they then earned attention, using an unusual choice of media as the catalyst.

First, they sent cryptic letters to a handful of individual fans around the world, which created intrigue and debate across social (and subsequently mainstream) media about whether they were fake or not.

Next, they released the album's track list via classified ads, placed in local newspapers, including the North Wales Daily Post.

The Coldplay messages sit alongside ads for local car boot sales, flats for let and white goods for sale.

Now, that's not quite what you’d expect from a band that's sold 100 million albums.

The approach really works, not just because it's surprising, but because it feels authentic.

Lead singer Chris Martin has explained that the album is largely about "the highs and lows of day-to-day life".

The channels they've chosen feel grounded.

There are real connections to the newspapers chosen, and little stories behind each one – for example, lead guitarist Jonny Buckland explained on Twitter that he'd grown up in north Wales and once had a holiday job at the Daily Post.

Intentionally or not, this also helps insulate a group that's topped the charts for 20 years from the kind of backlash others (think Bono and U2) have experienced, as fans bemoan the fact that superstar status and wealth leaves bands out of touch with everyday people.

To be fair, Coldplay have always done a lot to mitigate this: the band has long been associated with good causes, ranging from ocean plastics to world poverty.

They have given 10 per cent of their profits to charity from day one. They've refused countless commercial deals with brands.

I'm sure this comes from a genuine desire to stay grounded and do good. But it also prevents fatigue around brand Coldplay.

Of course, when you're one of the world's biggest-selling bands, you can expect a fair amount of media coverage whenever you launch an album.

But the Coldplay team deserves credit for doing something unusual that's got millions of people talking around the globe, while also delivering a message about what the band stands for in the album's content.

Many brands could learn a lot from their smart media choices, tactical execution and awareness of how to defend against the risk of public fatigue that so often follows success.

Gareth Thomas is managing director, UK, of PAN Communications

Thumbnail credit: Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

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