Consumers haven’t been visiting music stores to discover and pay for new music, and when they discover it online, it has all the excitement of dragging and dropping a gallon of milk onto their online grocery order. The physical element of new music discovery has been completely sucked out of the process. Something tactile and emotional is missing. On the flip side, if you’re an independent music creator, you’re in a constant struggle with obscurity, with little hope for label support. Releasing a new album feels like throwing a coin into the wishing well of the internet, alongside every other creator, and hoping for the best.
Adam Ritchie Brand Direction knew there’s a place music lovers still go to get something they want, and they go there almost every weekend to discover something new on the shelf: the beer store.
We were tasked with earning exposure for a forthcoming album from The Lights Out, a band of pandimensional travelers. Each song on the album was a report back from an alternate universe. To make national media pay attention to a new album from an unsigned, independent band, we had to do something completely different.
We approached Aeronaut Brewing Co. – a brewery founded by scientists from Cornell and MIT – and brought them onboard to brew a beer inspired by the songs and theme of the record. Aeronaut passionately approached it like a science project, developing a beer that could serve as fuel for a pandimensional traveler. Sounds and flavors were paired in a new style of beer. We used back-end technology on the band’s Twitter account, so each time the social media trigger on the label was posted by a consumer, the consumer would receive a message back, telling them what they were doing right now in a parallel universe, and a link to the album.
By putting this album on a beer, we broadened our media horizons. We were no longer restricted to music media. Food, beverage, beer, culture, lifestyle, business, technology, design, science and visual arts media became targets. We prepared a series of announcements to roll out over the four-month campaign, from live interactive events, to a National Beer Can Appreciation Day news peg. The album was released in the middle of three holiday vacations, a contentious presidential election, fallout and protests in the wake of the inauguration and Super Bowl – possibly the nosiest, densest, most challenging media relations climate in recent memory.
We fought hard and earned exposure in UPROXX, Paste Magazine, Food & Wine, Men’s Journal, The A.V. Club, MarketWatch, ADWEEK and more – and reactively earned placements as far away as Russia, Finland and Thailand. Both craft beer and music fans ran to the beer shelves and posted images of themselves hoisting the beer/album in the air. The product quickly sold out.
Media recognized how we were working to reintroduce the immersive, “quest” aspect and excitement to physical new music discovery, and noted the project’s innovation. Reporters posted pictures to social media of the beer can albums we sent them. For possibly the first time ever, a PR agency created the product it would promote. In the process of rising to a seemingly impossible media relations challenge, we invented a way to get consumers seeking out and purchasing new music, put physical discovery back on the table for music lovers starving for a more tangible relationship with their music and used technology to solve a problem technology initially created.
“A new strategy” (MarketWatch)
“Yes, it’s real” (Alternative Press)
“Out of this world” (Men’s Journal)
“Tangible pleasures” (Paste Magazine)
“Unconventional ingenuity” (The A.V. Club)
“A new high in album dropping” (UPROXX)
“We’re actually living in the future” (WIRED)
“This is a very, very cool innovation” (Fortune)
“Takes co-branding to the next level” (ADWEEK)
“Some of the biggest developments for packaging” (Food & Wine)
“Adam Ritchie Brand Direction came to us with an idea that had never been done before. While we were tremendously excited and adored the concept, we knew what a huge amount of work, creativity and dedication it would require to get off the ground. From leading creative brainstorming sessions, serving as the focal point for multiple teams, planning and enforcing a launch timeline, managing community outreach, pulling off the release, and then perhaps most impressively, doggedly following through with a seemingly nonstop barrage of national media coverage, Adam’s team created a tremendous launch experience which completely transcended the ordinary and set a new standard for how these things should be done. It’s a game-changer that succeeded beyond our wildest expectations. It’s hugely exciting to be part of something like this, and Adam’s team made it possible.”
-Ben Holmes, CEO, Aeronaut Brewing Co.
Adam Ritchie: Campaign concept, execution and audio composition
Ben Holmes: Brewer
Raul Gonzalez: Illustrator
Jesse James Salucci: Interactive design and audio composition