Beastie Boys, now men, target teens

By Published on .

The Beastie Boys, whose goofball, white-boy rap broke into the mainstream in the mid-80s, are reaching out to a generation that wasn't born then, trying to lure young music buyers with marketing maneuvers unlike any they've tried before to hype their new album, "To the 5 Boroughs."

Among the tactics: promotions with skate parks and hip retailers such as Pac Sun and Urban Outfitters; iTunes and America Online partnerships; music placement on Fox's "The O.C."; animated ad spots on Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim"; and fall promotions tagged to back-to-school.

The CD made its debut June 15 at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, with 360,000 units sold in the first week, though there are no demo breakdowns of the buyers. The record has now sold more than a half-million copies.

Capitol Records executives said they've reached out to long-time fans, but focused heavily on teenagers and young adults. The goal is to position the band as relevant to music fans today, not a nostalgia act, even though band members Mike D (Mike Diamond), MCA (Adam Yauch) and Adrock (Adam Horovitz) are pushing 40. "To the 5 Boroughs" is the first Beastie Boys' record in six years.

"We want to grow the band to a new audience," said Sharon Lord, Capitol's senior director-marketing. "It's definitely been about getting to kids."

`core mtv artists'

To that end, the Beastie Boys have been front-and-center on MTV, headlining the recent MTV Movie Awards and a Las Vegas concert for MTV and MTV2. They starred in a live special that aired the night before the record went on sale and appeared on the much-watched "TRL."

"We definitely feel that their sound resonates with our audience," said Amy Doyle, MTV's VP-music programming. "We've treated them like they're core MTV artists," devoting as much airtime as would be given to artists such as Beyonce and Eminem.

The Beastie Boys are touring the radio-station-festival circuit alongside such of-the-moment bands as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse and The Strokes. Their own worldwide tour starts in the fall. There's a promotional online video game called "Triple Trouble" on the Capitol Records Web site, with band members as characters. A wireless deal is also in the works.

going younger

For the Beastie Boys' last record, 1998's "Hello Nasty," the cover of Wenner Media's Rolling Stone was the holy grail for the band's publicists. For "To the 5 Boroughs," they were much keener to get placement in young-skewing style and pop-culture magazines like Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's YM, Time Inc.'s Teen People and Conde Nast Publications' Teen Vogue.

"We targeted them very consciously," said Steve Martin, founder of Nasty Little Man, New York, an independent publicity firm that has worked with the Beastie Boys for two decades. "We didn't take no for an answer."

The high-profile placement of their single, "Ch-Check It Out," on "The O.C." is one of the few music-licensing deals the band has ever done for TV. Upcoming deals will put their music in NBA games this year and next.

Retailers Urban Outfitters, Adidas and Pac Sun are selling the record while playing the music and running the video. There's also been a concerted effort to nab the urban audience, where the musical landscape is now dominated by the likes of 50 Cent and Chingy, whose gangsta rap gets the majority of air play and retail space. Publicists and label executives homed in on urban magazines such as XXL and Complex, urban radio and retailers.

While the marketing has changed, so has the band. Earlier Beastie Boys songs were all about chugging beer, ogling girls and, some critics said, disrespecting gays. The goofiness remains-there are references to Fred Sanford and Wile E. Coyote-but the new record also serves as a political rant and a homage to the post-9/11 New York.

Most Popular
In this article: