Bowie’s back. The Thin White Duke emerged from his self-imposed exile with a hit album, renewed street-cred and a legion of new fans. Not bad for a 66-year-old who hasn’t had a number one in over 20 years. And yet, The Next Day has become the fastest selling album of 2013 without Bowie apparently lifting a finger.
Of course, we’ve all been fooled – like the generation of teenage girls left hypnotised by Bowie’s Labyrinth codpiece. The master of reinvention tricked us with a brilliantly calculated, yet uber-subtle, content marketing campaign. So how did he do it?
1. He engaged his audience with a narrative
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – stories matter. And this time, Bowie’s narrative was less about extra-terrestrial spiders and more about the long game.
It began in 2012 – he was photographed in New York looking grey and old, sparking rumours of ill health. The came the V&A’s announcement of their Bowie retrospective, which went on to sell 42,000 advanced tickets. Later, seemingly out of the blue, came his single Where Are We Now?, quietly released as a video on his website.
By the time the album was announced, people were primed and champing at the bit. Every piece of content had been carefully planned, and at each stage, Bowie gave people another opportunity to connect with his brand. This jean genie demonstrated once again that content marketing overlooks stories at its peril.
2. He took a new approach
Bowie has never shied away from trying something different. From new looks to new sounds, he’s all about the ch-ch-ch-changes. Sometimes he missed the mark (Tin Machine, anyone?), but he’s been consistent in his attempts to innovate.
It’s been the same with The Next Day. While it has surprised and intrigued some listeners, it has also gained positive reviews. It’s not Hunky Dory, but it’s still Bowie.
What Bowie knows is that, in the content world, the status quo is not enough – and one of the best ways to cut through the noise is to innovate and try something new. Equally, if your content has been done before, put a fresh spin on it and find new ways to keep users engaged.
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