Daft Punk: Random Access Marketing

What’s that you say? Daft Punk have a new album out? Unless you are Jesse from The Fast Show, living in complete exclusion from the modern world, you will be aware that the massively popular French dance-pop duo are back.

2 min read
May 13, 2013

What’s that you say? Daft Punk have a new album out? Unless you are Jesse from The Fast Show, living in complete exclusion from the modern world, you will be aware that the massively popular French dance-pop duo are back. Such has been Sony’s success at launching their album ‘Random Access Memories,’ industry folk are stating this to be the “savviest multimedia marketing campaign to hit the music business in ages.” Lets delve a bit deeper and dissect just how Sony and Daft Punk have achieved such accolades.

Gentlemen, Start Your (Hype) Machines

17th April 2013. 11:00pm. A Facebook notification pops us on my screen. It’s my friend, informing me that “OMG. You got to check this out. New Daft Punk!!!” He’s an excitable kind of guy. I’m greeted by the now infamous ‘Coachella leak’ video, where at this year’s Californian music festival, a 58 second clip of Daft Punk’s  ‘Get Lucky’ single was played on one of the big screens. Cue multiple captures on smartphones, all uploaded to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Word spreads rapidly, as the ‘leak’ begins to dominate the social media landscape. The buzz for Random Access Memories has begun.

The image displays a person from behind, holding a tablet with the YouTube application open, showing a channel with 11,521,811 subscribers. In the foreground, the tablet screen is in focus, while in the blurred background a television screen shows a paused video game scene. The room appears to be dimly lit, with the screens providing most of the light, and a pinkish hue is visible on the wall, possibly from the television's reflection.

Countless bedroom remixes of ‘Get Lucky’ begin to swamp YouTube, Soundcloud and Hype Machine, demonstrating that Sony possesses a canny understanding of at least parts of the digital music scene nowadays – insofar as that due to the nature of the Internet, music will inevitably get leaked, cut-up and repackaged before the official release.
The digital campaign kicks off, with content released on a staggered schedule. So-called “full versions”, of ‘Get Lucky‘ start to appear on various sites for streaming (though not for long). Daft Punk team up with Vice and Intel to create ‘The Collaborators’ – a set of interviews with the many different collaborators on the album. A short Vine is released announcing the album track list. ‘Random Access Memories Unboxed’ appears on YouTube. ‘Get Lucky’ breaks Spotify’s daily streaming records when finally release on the service. Previews on iTunes were ripped and uploaded to file sharing sites. Each of these small teases were then slowly released, adding to the build-up, increasing the anticipation, fueling the album’s word of mouth whirlwind to create pure marketing buzz. Perfect.

Traditional Buzz Generation

Now, this was my own exposure to Random Access Memories, and at the time I believed that Sony/Daft Punk had taken a purely digital approach to achieve such impressive results. By delving a little deeper, it appears that the whole social buzz angle was actually ignited through traditional media tactics.

 The image captures a lively outdoor festival scene under a hazy sky. In the foreground, a crowd of people, many in colorful and casual attire, engage with one another, some dancing, others walking or taking photos. Dominating the scene is a colossal, inflated astronaut figure with a mirrored visor and detailed white space suit, reaching out towards the festival-goers. To the left, a large, abstract, metallic sculpture, featuring intertwined loops, towers over the attendees. Palm trees line the background, and distant mountains are faintly visible, contributing to a festive atmosphere.

Back in March, Daft Punk dropped a surprise fifteen second clip of ‘Get Lucky’ during a Saturday Night Live ad break, a retro marketing strategy that was popular pre-MTV days for labels to market their artists. On the 8th March, a series of billboards of the album cover image were rolled out at South By Southwest. Word spread that Daft Punk might be performing. They weren’t, but buzz began anyway. Billboards started to appear in a number of global locations (Bowery in New York and Old Street in London), carefully chosen where there was a lack of billboard advertising already. Ideal for standing out.The official unveiling of ‘Random Access Memories’ was announced on 9th April at the remote, unfamiliar, 79th Annual Wee Waa Show in Australia. The apparent randomness of choosing a local agricultural fair for this purpose became another Internet phenomenon.    

Billboard placement was also purchased on major roads en route to Coachella. Due to this, the possibility of a new Daft Punk album began to creep back into the consumers’ consciousness. They were back on everyone’s radar. People knew something was going to be announced and so, on that night at Coachella, fans were waiting for it, if not entirely surprised. Indeed, Daft Punk themselves were watching in anticipation in the VIP section to see the response. Everything was carefully planned out for the eventual digital hype to take off.

What this demonstrates is that traditional media and digital tactics can generate increased buzz when used in unison. It’s not always an either/or dilemma, despite the fact that some people seem to treat the worlds of digital and traditional as being totally separate. The album achieved this impressive awareness as it was based on the traditional ‘teaser’ approach, cut with the power of social media. The result? Getting irresistible messaging in front of the right people, at the right time, around the world. Job done.

2 min read
May 13, 2013