Why Zelda Needs To Be More Like Beyoncé

Stick with me – you’ll see the connection in just a minute.

We live in a time where every big release – be it a TV show, movie, album, video game, car – is announced over a year in advance, and is promoted regularly with a targeted advertising push, in order to raise excitement for the product.

Well, that used to be the case. Then Beyoncé happened.

In December of last year, on a quiet Friday a couple of weeks before Christmas, Beyoncé silently dropped her fifth album on iTunes without telling anyone, and exploded the internet. 14 brand new songs, 17 music videos, countless collaborations, and no one knew she was doing this. In this day and age of internet leaks and insider scoops, the fact that Beyoncé was able to accomplish this in secret is unprecedented, and unheard of.

Was it worth the risk? The numbers speak for themselves. Three other popular female artists dropped highly anticipated albums in 2013 – Lady Gaga released ArtPop, Katy Perry’s Prism and Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz, though they used the traditional marketing push to promote their albums. Big, lavish announcements, talk show visits, concerts, radio releases, music videos and more, all designed to create a frenzy and drive record sales. Their first week numbers are below:

  •  Lady Gaga – ArtPop $258,000
  • Katy Perry – Prism $270,000
  • Miley Cyrus – Bangerz $285,000

Surely, Beyoncé’s numbers are less, considering there was no traditional marketing push whatsoever, right? Wrong. In her first three days (not a week – three days), Beyoncé’s ‘secret’ album made $430,000. Without any traditional marketing campaign whatsoever. You read that correctly – Beyoncé’s album made twice as much as Gaga, Katy and Miley, and she spent no money on traditional forms of promotion.

Should all forms of entertainment adopt this method of promotion? Not at all. Though there was no traditional method of promoting her new album, if you look back at her actions in 2013, you’ll see she was really promoting it in plain sight the whole time. She started with her performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. Then she announced her world tour. She followed that up with a number of ‘surprise’ visits – one to a high school, another to a Walmart where she paid for everyone’s shopping carts. All year long, Beyoncé was in the headlines, so that the frenzy surrounding her would be at an all time high when she dropped her new album.

So what does this have to do with Zelda and Link? I’m glad you asked. Right now, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is going on in Los Angeles. It’s a weeklong event where Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo (among others) make their big announcements for upcoming games and technology. The announcements range from massive (new gaming systems are usually unveiled at these events, such as the PS4 or Wii U) to relatively small (the next Call of Duty, a new Mario game, etc). Needless to say, it is a big week for those in the gaming and technology industries.

But Beyoncé’s tactics got me thinking. Every time a new game is announced at E3, it’s release date can be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years away. It can get extremely frustrating as a gamer since the wait for these games seem to go on forever and ever. But what if when Nintendo took the stage this morning to announce the fantastic looking new Zelda Wii U game they announced that it was available… today? No traditional marketing campaign, no months of hype and controlled information leaks. Just “here’s the game, now go play it.”

I think it would be the highest selling game in Nintendo history. I think it would help surge sales of the Wii U, which is currently struggling compared to the much better PlayStation 4 and XBOX One systems. And I think it would once again put Nintendo on top.

Will they ever do this? Probably not. But it might be worth the risk.

You might be asking yourself why a marketing firm would be campaigning for companies to ditch traditional advertising methods and just release their products with no fanfare. It’s simple really – sometimes you just need to let your product speak for itself. Save the marketing dollars for other services you offer. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t spending advertising dollars promoting the secretly released item – follow up with a coordinating public relations push. Promote the story to news outlets and industry trades. Facilitate conversation after the fact, not before it’s even launched. Heck, it’s the model Apple follows – they announce a new iPhone and two weeks later its in stores. And it works.

Just a few thoughts about the role of a concentrated push before the release of a highly anticipated product. Knowing when to promote and when to let your product speak for itself is a tricky road to navigate, but it’s one Satori Marketing can definitely help you with.

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