Coldplay’s Album Roll-Out Campaign Isn’t Just Old School, It’s Cost-Effective

Placing classified ads in newspapers around the world paid off big time for the band.

Tim Saccenti

For Coldplay’s eighth studio album, “Everyday Life” (out Nov. 22), the band has engaged in a decidedly old school roll-out. From the visuals, a 1919 image of guitarist Jonny Buckland’s great-grandfather’s band serves as the album cover and the official publicity photo, to the 500 manually typed and hand-signed postcard notes to fans around the world to the tracklist reveal via classified ads in the U.K. hometown newspapers of Coldplay’s members (Flintshire, Exeter, Southampton and Fife) along with other local publications in 10 countries.

It’s also a cost-effective one. Consider that the band was able to sidestep an expensive photo shoot by superimposing themselves onto an image owned by one of its members; that its letter-writing campaign only required the price of postage; or that its classified spent was a mere $25,000, Variety has learned. Even its music video consists of grainy footage shot by hand of frontman Chris Martin performing new song “Orphans” in various New York City locales and in full view of unsuspecting pedestrians. In addition, a sniping campaign targeted 30 cities in 21 countries and five continents.

Is this the new reality of constrained label marketing budgets or just an inventive publicity campaign in lieu of the usual press release or social media announcement? In the case of Coldplay, the latter.

“Everyone does the same thing these days,” says Brooks Roach, Atlantic Records’ VP of marketing, referring to the typical Instagram teasers or social media scrubs to signify that new product is coming. “We wanted to do something different than the traditional ways in which people are announcing singles and albums today. The band gave us the nostalgic inspiration and we kind of took that and ran.”

That nostalgia is rooted in the idea that the band has been working on “Everyday Life” for the past 100 years. The concept aligned well with “traditional media like classified ads,” says Roach. Same for the postcards to 500 so-called “superfans,” which Roach explains were those “who would speak the loudest. … It was it was exciting to see a band at this level delivering physical post to their fans. People don’t do that that often.”

And was it cost effective? “I think it was because of the impressions that we saw on blogs, social media and broadcast,” says Roach, giving due credit to Atlantic Records publicity team, led by veteran Sheila Richman. “We got two ‘Good Morning America’ hits last week in addition to the ‘Today Show’ and morning news in the U.K. on BBC. So it really does feel to have paid off.”

Indeed, people are talking, and that’s exactly what a well-executed PR and marketing campaign aims to do. And there are more archetypal looks coming up for Coldplay, including a performance on the Nov. 2 episode of “Saturday Night Live,” the band’s sixth appearance on the NBC show (the production for which is far more costly).

“We are doing some traditional things, but there will be a few cool surprises people have yet to see in the campaign,” says Roach.

“Everyday Life” is being billed as a double album divided into two halves, Sunrise and Sunset, and clocks in at 53 minutes. Two songs, “Orphans” and “Arabesque,” are available at all DSPs. A vinyl 7-inch featuring both tracks is also available via Third Man Records.