Fall Out Boy rolls out viral campaign for "Folie"
By Cortney Harding
NEW YORK (Billboard) - A starlet having lunch at the Ivy is not a rare sight in Los Angeles; it's common knowledge that the restaurant is the place to see and be seen by the paparazzi.
So when a very pregnant Ashlee Simpson waddled up to the eatery August 19, it wasn't the fact that the singer-songwriter was headed inside for a sandwich that caused a frenzy of Internet buzz. Rather, it was a pamphlet she held, bearing the name of a group called Citizens for Our Betterment.
Some speculated she had joined a cult or been bitten by the political bug, but a quick Web search revealed the truth: The fake group was part of a viral campaign set up by Simpson's husband, Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, to announce the impending release of a new album by the pop-punk band.
In retrospect, the stunt now looks like a carefully orchestrated and well-played move by Wentz to winkingly parlay his cover-of-People-level fame into a promotion for his band's new album -- and, according to Wentz, his wife was more than willing to help him out. But this in-joke is only the start; from here, the band will branch out with a marketing campaign that caters to super-fans as well as new converts, thanks to a combination of selective song leaks, mobile initiatives and traditional promotional schemes.
"Fall Out Boy are the quintessential direct-to-consumer band," Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJMG) director of marketing Gabriela Schwartz says. "They were the ones who came up with the Citizens for Our Betterment site, and it has already gotten over a million impressions."
Even though the site looked like a rudimentary Web 1.0 version of a strange special-interest group, FOB fans are tech-savvy enough to recognize a viral marketing campaign, and many guessed that it had something to do with a new album or tour. Within a few days (and after surviving a strange mixup that involved a Florida band called Copeland creating a mirror site, posting the address on FOB fan blogs and sending users to its own site) Citizens for Our Betterment officially went out of business.
But in its place, the band offered a download of a mix tape comprising snippets of five songs from the forthcoming album, as well as tracks from bands signed to Wentz's label, Decaydance, and shout-outs to "get familiar" with the band's new material. Continued...