Grammy Award-winning indie rock group Arcade Fire recently unleashed a guerilla marketing campaign culminating in their latest single “Reflektor,” which has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube in just one week. On Sept. 9, a variety of new “Reflektor”-related content was released by the band: both an interactive music video and a traditional music video, a 12” vinyl EP and preorders for the album of the same name on their website, to be released Oct. 29.
Much of the information surrounding the release of Arcade Fire’s fourth album Reflektor has been spread through word-of-mouth on social media, namely Twitter and Tumblr, with few official words from the band itself. The first rumors about the band’s follow-up to their 2010 Grammy Award-winning album The Suburbs began swirling when mysterious graffiti images were found in cities worldwide. In August, a banner appeared in New York with the word “Reflektor,” the date “9/9” and the band’s name.
As September approached, a limited-edition 12” vinyl EP of their first new single was rumored to be released on Sept. 9 at 9 p.m. at select record stores around the world. The only word from the band was a map on their official website with the “Reflektor” logo pinpointing to certain locations. The single leaked a few days before the release date.
An interactive music video for “Reflektor”— a collaboration with Google Chrome — was released on Sept. 9. The music video utilizes both smartphones and computer webcams to create effects in the video.
For all the technology and social media their marketing campaign has relied on, the interactive video and single compels the viewer to put their technology down and connect with the people around them. When using a smartphone with the interactive video, the video causes the phone’s screen to look cracked, and the words “Break Free” appear on the screen. Lyrics such as, “We’re so connected, but are we even friends?” add an anti-social media message, imploring listeners to connect with people face-to-face.
The more conventional YouTube music video for “Reflektor,” which was also released on the Sept. 9, does not show hints of this attitude in its imagery, however.
In a BBC Radio 1 interview with Zane Lowe, lead singer Win Butler called the promotional campaign “more of a weird art project.”
Arcade Fire has used unconventional promotional tactics for past releases as well. Fans could call a phone line to listen to the first single from 2007’s Neon Bible. The Suburbs used more common promotional methods, although a Spike Jonze-directed 30-minute film, titled “Scenes from the Suburbs,” was released in conjunction to the album.
With all these hype-building promotional techniques, along with a confirmed half-hour NBC special following the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live,” it’s clear that the band is ambitiously pursuing even more mainstream success. However, their display of unconventional opinions on technology, word-of-mouth promotion and the fact that “Reflektor” is a seven-and-a-half minute track could prove polarizing for new listeners.
Reflektor will be released on Oct. 29th.