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REPUBLIC DOES EVERYTHING FOR ARIANA ROLLOUT

Inside the Many-Splendored Campaign for Diva’s Highly Anticipated New Album

Ariana Grande’s sophomore Republic album, My Everything, arrives in the wake of the diminutive diva’s ascent to superstardom, powered by four iTunes #1s:

“Problem” f/Iggy Azalea 2.9m
“Break Free” f/Zedd661k
“Bang Bang” + Jessie J + Nicki Minaj                       503k
“Best Mistake” f/Big Sean.105k

Total:

4.1m

When the album streets on 8/25—the day after she gets some very big VMA looks—it will unquestionably be her second #1 bow, with forecasts in the 150-200k range.

 

“It’s the natural evolution of an international superstar,” proclaims Republic generalissimo Monte Lipman.

“We’re painting a picture,” says EVP Charlie Walk of the album’s multi-media rollout. “We’re layering in different looks to the consumer so they can see they’re buying into a multi-faceted body of work, combined with performance and content.”

 “The last album proved Ariana’s the female voice of her generation,” asserts manager Scooter Braun. “This album was about getting out of her comfort zone and really pushing herself musically.”

My Everything includes compositions by Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco and other top writer/producers, not to mention a track written for her by One Direction’s Harry Styles. Other guests on the album include the Weeknd, Childish Gambino and A$AP Ferg.


Lead single “Problem” claimed the #1 spot at iTunes in some 57 territories within a half-hour or so of its release. Grande excels at using her huge social reach (she has 17.5m Twitter followers) to amp up demand.

“She’s the best at doing countdowns that push toward the day and date of a song going to her fans, iTunes and streaming services at the same time,” notes Walk. “That’s how she can go to #1 at iTunes before she has a single spin at radio.”

Just as “Problem” was hitting #1 at Pop and Rhythm radio, Republic began the drumbeat for second single “Break Free.” Meeting with MTV’s Van Toffler, Amy Doyle and team, Walk recalls, they brainstormed an “ultimate moment” to unveil the song and launch the album pre-order.

The result of that session was a revival of the net’s beloved Total Request Live as the 30-minute special Total Ariana Live, which premiered “Break Free” and ended with Grande’s announcement that she’d be performing on the VMAs.

The show, which aired on 7/2 and was accompanied by a Times Square “takeover,” a building wrap and other splashy optics, earned twice the teen-female audience typically attracted in prime time. Next came her 7/4 Macy’s special.

Meetings with Clear Channel—whose Bob Pittman, Tom Poleman, Rich Bressler, John Sykes, John Ivey and Ryan Seacrest were all enthusiastic Grande boosters—yielded a unique approach to drive pre-orders.

“I said, ‘Look, I understand the exposure, but let’s not give the content away for free,’” Walk recalls. Thus came the idea to create a “golden ticket” whereby pre-orders at Grande’s site would unlock exclusive access to an hour-long iHeartRadio Theater live performance of material from the new album.

Third single “Bang Bang” placed Grande in a “Lady Marmalade”-esque trio with Jessie J and Minaj, once again soaring to #1 at iTunes when it dropped on 7/29, and barnstorming Pop radio (it’s #16 on the Mediabase Top 40 chart, while “Problem” is #8 and “Break Free” sits at #9).

Leading up to the VMAs, Team Ariana’s partnership with Beats by Dre and Target produced what Walk describes as “Super Bowl-like” commercials bookending the video launch for “Bang Bang” (a pink-themed affair laden with Beats paraphernalia, some of it Target-exclusive), which were crafted to surround her VMA performances.


With MTV’s moon-man spectacular—“the most relevant music show apart from the Grammys,” as Walk puts it—going down the night before street date, Grande will have ultimate visibility at the optimal moment.

Still, for all the work done on the campaign, Braun emphasizes, “You can’t make a superstar. People don’t understand what you have to give, the work you have to do and how strong you have to be. Ariana has that strength. That’s why it’s working.”


Avery Lipman, Charlie Walk, Ariana, Monte Lipman and Scooter Braun discuss the prospect of Varvatos go-go boots.

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