Visa, Barnes & Noble on board for promo

HOLLYWOOD — In a unique three-way effort to support Windham Hill Records’ flagship artist George Winston, the label has pacted with Visa USA and Barnes & Noble Booksellers to promote the disc in a program that is expected to directly reach tens of millions of potential customers.

Windham Hill will use the tie-in to tout “All the Seasons of George Winston,” a collection of rare radio versions of the pianist’s most popular works, culled from every phase of his career.

Visa will tout the disc through a mailer delivered to millions of its cardholders.

In addition to heralding the disc, devotees can land a free, limited-edition sampler CD available only at Barnes & Noble when they use their Visa card for their purchase.

The sampler, an eight-song disc created specifically for the tie-in, features tracks by such label stars as Jim Brickman, Liz Story, Will Ackerman, Janis Ian and Ray Lynch.

The disc will be touted in the record sections of Barnes & Noble outlets, as well as the bookstore proper.

In stores without music rooms, the disc will be displayed on countertops. The chain also operates B. Dalton bookstores.

The chain will also advertise the promotion throughout the summer.

The promotion gives the label millions of dollars’ worth of advertising and expands upon the partnership between Visa USA and BMG Entertainment North America — Windham Hill’s parent — which was launched a year ago with the introduction of a BMG Visa credit card. The card offers discounts on merchandise and music through the BMG family.

The label expects to reach existing Winston or Windham Hill fans who may have strayed, as well as potential new fans.

“We are always looking for ways outside of the traditional avenues to alert consumers to the availability of our albums,” Steve Vining, prexy of the Windham Hill Group, told Daily Variety. “This tie-in is just another example of that philosophy.”

Under Vining’s aegis, Windham Hill has become known for employing unique marketing initiatives.

Rather than relying solely on radio or traditional record retailers to help hawk the label’s wares, Hill marketers have orchestrated tie-ins with a number of different outlets, including Redbook magazine, and through the use of direct marketing.

The label also recently took the unusual step of hiring ad agency McKann Erickson to tout Hill’s musical niche to consumers who may not be familiar with it.

With 25 years of making music, Winston is one of Windham Hill’s premiere artists. His most recent Windham Hill release, “Linus and Lucy, the Music of Vince Guaraldi,” was recently RIAA-certified gold (500,000 copies).

Visa facilitates more than $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year through its nearly 600 million cards in use by consumers.

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