The last artist to break the 1 million mark in first-week sales was Lady Gaga and her album Born This Way, with a little help from Zynga, Starbucks, HBO, iTunes, Best Buy, Gilt Groupe and particularly Amazon, whose controversial 99 cent sale of the album crashed the site’s servers and resulted in 40% of her sales. (Billboard has since revised chart policy to exclude albums priced below $3.49 during the first four weeks of release.) Can Taylor Swift, who sold 1.1 million copies of Speak Now in 2010, do it again with Red? She just might, with a little help from her brands.
Last time out, Swift had a heavily promoted partnership with Target (an exclusive deluxe edition with three bonus tracks), an ad campaign with Sony Electronics’ Cyber Shot cameras and her own line of cards for American Greetings to help get the word out about Speak Now. But for Red, she’s aiming even higher, with a list of marketing partners that leaves virtually no category unturned: a branded store in Walgreens, an album-and-pizza promotion with Papa John’s, her own line of shoes for Keds and a music-college contest with VH1 and textbook rental service Chegg. Not to mention a continuation of her deals with Target (a deluxe exclusive with three bonus tracks and three remixes, plus a Swift mini-store), American Greetings and Sony, in addition to a new fragrance for Elizabeth Arden, Enchanted, that follows up the huge success of Wonderstruck, the No. 2 women’s scent launch during the holiday 2011 season.
“The first step was to look at where we wanted the record to go. A worldwide release, really-we made that a priority,” Swift says of the album’s initial marketing strategy. “To me, the answer to every question of ‘Will you do this to promote the album?’ was ‘yes.’ My team has come up with brilliant ways to market this record, to expand the retail footprint. Selling an album in Walgreens, selling it at Papa John’s-these are all different ways that have so far been unexplored, so we’ll see what happens.”
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