Apps, Mobile & SMS

One Direction Adds Digital Billboards And Kik’s Messaging App To The Music Marketing Mix

One-direction-midnight-memoriesOne Direction just released a new album with a variety of interesting marketing efforts which are part of what is no doubt a massive deployment of skills and money. Though definitely a global act with a world tour planned for 2014, One D is also targeting the States with a variety of efforts. Of particular interest is their use of digital billboards as a localized screen for social media. Also worth noting, especially given the shift in social energy from now traditional networks such as Facebook to an array of messaging apps, is their campaign on Kik, though it's not quite the first it's claimed to be.

One Direction yesterday released their third album in two years, "Midnight Memories," in the States. Currently the album is #1 on what I assume is the U.S. iTunes charts and is topping in other countries as well.

One D held a "One Direction iHeartRadio Album Release Party" last night in Burbank, California. The event was streamed live via Yahoo! and Ryan Seacrest hosted.

Digital Billboards Take Social To The Streets & Back

Another notable effort in partnership with Clear Channel took advantage of rich media digital billboards:

"The campaign, part of a larger promotional involving hundreds of billboards in 27 markets, connected to the band's fan bases on Tumblr and Twitter."

"The promotion, which ran over the weekend, involved the band asking fans to post photos at Tumblr and then selecting 100 images or so to be featured on the billboards. The images are being recaptured as they are broadcast on the billboards so they can be rebroadcast through social media."

Such billboards have been used in a number of campaigns this year, including for Lady Gaga's "Artpop," and they represent a nice bridging of social media and networked locations.

Targeting The States

Though they'll be touring the world next year, they're definitely targeting the States and some reviewers even see that in their music:

"Essentially, Midnight Memories is all a little lustier and more tub-thumping than before, and aimed so squarely at the biggest music market in the world that Britain's proudest pop exports sometimes lapse into fake American accents, yelp in the background and sing 'awoooo' like they're dreaming of Bon Jovi."

They'll also be launching a shoe line in the U.S. and Canada next year but it's their choice of Kik for a marketing campaign that truly speaks to their focus on the States.

Marketing On Kik Messenger

The campaign for Kik Messenger, which is labeled as the "First Global Music Marketing Campaign on Messaging Platform," is a first in some regards.

One Direction is the first major label act to promote a new release using Kik Cards which are shareable chunks of mobile content:

"Today, fans from around the globe will be able to chat with each other on Kik and unlock exclusive One Direction content through a unique group 'unlocking' program centered on the band’s new album Midnight Memories."

"One Direction’s Kik Card will launch in tandem with the worldwide release of the bands’ third studio album on Syco/Columbia Records. The card will allow the Kik community to share both exclusive and existing One Direction content, including videos, photos, and social media news."

You can check out One D's Kik Card for yourself by downloading Kik and then going to

Kik Cards can function as a sort of mini-site on Kik which can be updated. Kik Cards might best be described as a "content platform" on which successful apps are also being built.

But Kik is not the global powerhouse of messaging and this is not the first big music campaign using a messaging platform. As of August Kik had over 80 million users with 50% of its base in the U.S. That's why I see its use by One D as targeting the States.

Sir Paul Got There First

In contrast, Paul McCartney's recent campaign on Line, which boasts 280 million users, resulted in 900,000 Japanese followers and over 3 million English language followers.

Line's user base, which is growing rapidly, has a strong presence in multiple Asian countries, including Japan and India, as well as Spain.

The reality is that no messaging app has conquered the world but Sir Paul certainly got into it before One D.

Nevertheless, IPG Media Lab should be credited with what is still a groundbreaking messaging app campaign for a major musical act.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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