I’m walking back from my TA’s office on Market Street when I see something that prompts more questions than this week’s lecture: Taylor Swift on a UPS truck. I’ve been consistently seeing—and consistently confused by—the thought process that led to marketing Swift’s upcoming album reputation on the backs of delivery trucks.
The ads are a product of Taylor's partnership with UPS, along with sweepstakes and contests you can enter by pre–ordering the album. Some even speculate that her next single has been teased in a UPS commercial.
Swift joins a diverse and impressive group of artists who've used outrageous marketing campaigns for their albums and singles. Here’s a round–up of some of the craziest and most creative ones:
After Reading and Leeds Festival in August last year, British punk band Creeper pretended to go missing. They uploaded images of posters claiming each member had gone missing ,as well as a poster asking for information about the disappearance of a man named James Scythe. The posters all listed the number 023–8000–0376. People who called the number heard a message saying, "On the second of Oct. 2016, we'll die holding hands,” and received a text with the link whereisjamescythe.co.uk. The website contained information about Scythe, a paranormal researcher who supposedly disappeared in Dec. 2015 while staying in a hotel in Southampton, Creeper’s hometown. It also had photos from his hotel room and links to a fake podcast. One of the photographs from the hotel room contained the URL www.strangesouthampton.club, a website featuring legends of the Stranger and the never–aging Callous Heart gang (strongly suggested to be the band)—both named after previous Creeper EPs. Creeper recently announced that they will be releasing a novel on Nov. 30 titled The Last Days of James Scythe, going more in–depth on the story of Scythe and his disappearance.
Halsey, who also had an elaborate concept for her recent album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, mailed out newspapers to fans with articles detailing the events of the “Now or Never” music video. Billboard also reports that she mailed out Romeo and Juliet quotes to fans. The album adapts the Shakespeare play, heavily inspired by the 1996 Baz Luhrmann–directed film version, but sets it in a fictional underworld. Halsey also made fake Twitter accounts for the two protagonists, Luna and Solis, and their respective houses, Aureum and Angelus.
Stranger than Science Fiction
Brand New recently pulled a semi–Beyoncé (a Jay–Z or Blue Ivy?) by surprise–dropping their long–awaited follow–up to 2009’s Daisy. On Aug. 15, Brand New announced a limited edition vinyl pre–order of their fifth studio album Science Fiction, claiming it would be released in October. On Aug. 17, fans (supposedly the ones who pre–ordered the album) were sent CDs with a single track on it, titled “44.5902N104.7146W” and spanning 61 minutes and 27 seconds. Fans on Twitter and Reddit speculated that this was the entire forthcoming album compressed into one track, and that the title contained geographic coordinates. The coordinates are for Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, a location important to the 1977 science–fiction movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In addition, the booklet sent with the CD contained quotes from another sci–fi film, 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Later that same day, the album went on sale officially.
Arcade Fire announced that they would be selling limited edition fidget spinners branded with the logo for their latest album, Everything Now. The spinners included a USB containing the entire album and sold for $109. However, as the item was almost immediately listed as sold out, several sites have speculated that they actually do not exist and that it was all a joke.
Prior to releasing their album, Last Young Renegade, All Time Low announced a small one–off show at Bush Hall in London—without mentioning that they would be playing. The show was booked under the name The Young Renegades, a play on the album title. All Time Low posted on their Twitter account, “Our friends in The Young Renegades are playing a special show at Bush Hall tomorrow night. We'll be there, will you?” and frontman Alex Gaskarth tweeted that he would be selling The Young Renegades merchandise. The Young Renegades is also the name listed on the backs of the jackets All Time Low members wore in the music videos leading up to the release of Last Young Renegade, as well as the fictional band All Time Low impersonates in the music video for the title track. The Bush Hall show turned out to be a secret All Time Low show, where several songs made their live debuts.
I Like it When You Pop Up
To promote their second album, 2016’s I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, The 1975 set up pop–up shops in New York and London. The shops contained limited edition shirts, art cards, necklaces, and featured artwork from Samuel Burgess Johnson. Fans who went to the pop–up shops also got the opportunity to meet The 1975 in person. The pop–up shops were the result of a collaboration between the band, Johnson, and Tumblr.
I Stream Weddings, Not Tragedies
In the spring, British band Don Broco acted like bassist Tom Doyle was getting married. They took pictures with people around Las Vegas with the hashtag #tomsstag, in honor of Doyle’s fake bachelor party. The band announced that they would be live–streaming the wedding. Since Doyle was supposedly getting married while on tour in the US, this would be a way to include his friends and family while allowing fans to be a part of it. The band even posted a wedding invitation along with videos on social media of members of other bands congratulating Doyle. Instead of the wedding, the band premiered the video for their song “Pretty”—depicting a far–from–beautiful, gory, and twisted wedding, the weirdest since Panic! at the Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
“We got a little bit carried away and things kind of took off from there!" frontman Rob Damiani said, "Everyone’s been really nice and happy for Tom. We feel a little bad now for all who were tuning in for the live wedding stream, so please forgive us!”