The Coldplay ‘Ghost Stories’ Campaign…Ramble


Yes, I’m a huge and I mean huge Coldplay fan. I don’t like them ‘ironically’ as one recent fellow I dated (see that’s past tense) remark. However, that doesn’t preclude me from being able to analyze their campaigns. Their sixth album ‘Ghost Stories’ is a beautiful and haunting in honesty. Note, I was not a fan of ‘Mylo Xyloto’, though a few songs grew on me, and though I loved ‘X & Y’ it was about three or four ballads too long, a fact that is also noted by the band.

When I first heard the lyrics to ‘Magic’ about how ‘I just got broken, broken in to two, still I call it magic, when I’m with you’ red flags started to wave in my head. Of course, I ignored them because the lyrics were all too relatable to me. March saw the debut of other new songs from ‘Ghost Stories’ during their globally broadcast performance as part of the iTunes Festival at SXSW. “Another’s Arms” told the tale of having broken up and the oddness of moving on, still wishing for the person already gone. Now the red flag was as large as Russia’s, and my heart was concerned. The following week GP and Chris Martin announced their ‘conscious uncoupling’, which is also brilliant timing from a marketing standpoint of an album launch.

Woah, is that cold? Fair enough. You can say that but the moments I took to mourn their relationship, also produced even greater depth to the lyrics of ‘Ghost Stories’. Friends commented I might be rushing out to buy the album but they were sure Gwyneth Paltrow wasn’t listening to it. I disagree since Chris told the BBC’s Zane Lowe in an exclusive interview it was the most truthful album they have ever made. The word ‘true’ appears in several of the songs. It’s also really about heartbreak, not being over someone who was ‘True Love’ but having to move forward. Even in “A Star Full of Skies” he mentions in out of all those stars “I think I saw you”, do you get more literal? Or on “Magic” when he sings “and with all your magic, I disappear from view.” Well damn.

The global Coldplay campaign didn’t need the press of a breakup because it included hand-written lyrics for all songs hidden in libraries all over the globe, hints given away via Twitter, TV shows including Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon in the US (let alone the countless ones overseas), and The Voice, as well as live shows in five major cities globally.

Tickets in NY were hard to come by unless you work in the music industry or are willing to pay scalpers.

Personally I’d rather shell out a few extra bucks for the deluxe version at Target, a multi-million dollar campaign #MoreColdplay across social media, television and in-store promotions. The fan incentive? Signed paper stars from the adverts, which also were part of the set dressing for their SNL appearance.

Let’s not forget the continued support of iTunes post-SWSX which included a pre-order, an exclusive track, immediate downloads from the pre-order, social media support and dedicated newsletters and homepage banners.

What I love about Coldplay is the imperfection of it all, the inclusion of fans and the music, of course. I once got into a discussion with a senior level exec at Sony about why Kings of Leon, also releasing their fourth album at the time, were not as successful as Coldplay. He said there was no way and then that album turned out to be KOL’s most successful album and he had to buy me an expensive dinner. Music, when it’s brilliant can still go unheard if it is not marketed properly. Team Coldplay always delivers some new way of connecting with the music, making it fun and inclusive of the fans. Look for their TV special as well:

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