Stephanie Gayle, 29, director of product marketing at Columbia Records' Black Music division, unleashed a teaser campaign and shot the commercials early.
Then, the executive guided "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" to high-end platinum status with sales of more than 5 million units in the U.S., and another 5 million internationally.
The teaser plan for Ms. Hill's first album began with street teams handing out postcards noting only the title of the album and its impending August release. The team also posted flyers-which looked like school composition paper and read " 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill' coming in August."
Ms. Gayle says point-of-purchase was a key element to the teaser and post-release marketing effort. In retail stores, Ms. Gayle put up countdown calendars before the release.
TV commercials aired on BET and MTV, but prior to the album's release and in keeping with the teaser strategy, the ads only named the album. A longer version of the commercial ran in theaters as a cinema advertising effort.
A sneak preview of the first single, "Lost Ones," was sent to 900 radio disc jockeys. The next single, "Doo Wop (That Thing)," included a video that appeared on TV music stations. The campaign led to a juggernaut at the Grammys, where Ms. Hill took five awards, including album of the year.
"It was easy to know it would do well at urban and crossover radio [stations]