Sony Music gambles on online-only marketing for new launch

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TORONTO -- Sony Music Canada is gambling on a major online-only marketing campaign to promote its latest artist, little-known Melanie Doane.

A new album from Doane won't be in Canadian stores until Sept. 29, but Sony has already launched its Web site (www.melaniedoane.com) and online contest, "Be a Record Exec for a Day." Feedback from contest entrants will "play a key role" to help the record label pick the album's first single and direct longer-term marketing.

"We're definitely taking a risk" in using online only to support the album launch, concedes John Thomson, the marketer's director of new media. "Rather than a series of passive bus shelters, TV ads and print, we wanted the consumer to have a chance to participate before the album release," he says.

"Usually all that (media) comes first, then the Web site. We wanted to throw the traditional approach on its ass," in using online efforts to spearhead marketing.

Web banner ads promoting the artist's new homepage are now running on Excite, Yahoo! Canada, music-oriented MuchMusic, the Weather Network Online and six other popular Canadian sites. Sony Music Canada handles creative, Web marketing and virtually all media buying in-house.

Traditional media will come down the road, says Mr. Thomson, but, before that, Sony will break full-page color ads in October in national magazines geared at women and Internet users. Creative will feature a tastefully nude Ms. Doane with her Web address as the only text.

"It's a very provocative, creative ad" designed to pique reader interest, says Mr. Thomson. "Is she a musician? Is this a writer? Is it an adult site?"

It's the first time the marketer has advertised a Web address on its own, he says, rather than including it as a tag-on in a conventional ad.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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