The Latest Cheap Trick in Media Marketing

I love the fact that Cheap Trick’s latest album, The Latest, is going to be available not only via download, CD, and Vinyl, but also on 8 Track.
Downloads are available now via iTunes and Amazon. For those of us who prefer to actually have a hard copy with artwork, we’ll have to wait until July 21 for the CD at major retailers. And for some of us who like to argue that high-grade vinyl records offer better quality sound than CDs (yeah, I’m one of those guys), LPs will also be out later this month.
But 8 Track?
It’s brilliant! What better way to grab media attention for the world’s greatest power pop band than to announce a new 8 Track release! As of today, Tuesday July 7, there are already hundreds of stories online and in print (source: MediaQ monitoring) and hundreds of tweets on Twitter. How many journalists, bloggers, and Twits would be writing about a new Cheap Trick album without the 8 Track gimmick?

Click on 8 Track to hear stream of songs from "The Latest"
Click on 8 Track to hear stream of songs from "The Latest"

This isn’t about 8 Track tapes, which no one is really going to buy other than as a conversation piece or collector’s item. This is about knowing your target audience and executing ideas that cut through the noise. Cheap Trick does retro-cool right and always has. The 8 Track gimmick should get even more attention for what is actually a great album. I have heard several tracks (via 2009 technology, not 1977 technology) and am pleased to report that the boys from Rockford are still on top of the world. Since departing the major labels (Epic in the 80s and Warner Brothers in the 90s), the band has taken back their creative control and has spent the past 10 years writing brilliant rock and pop songs.
Cheap Trick proves a point frequently discussed on this blog. Buzz is not established by which media channels or tools you use to get a message out. In this case, an interesting story is getting attention, as opposed to  bad content that is just being pushed via social media or traditional channels.
As a side note, let me take just a minute to discuss the retro tech mentioned above. For those of you too young to have really used 8 Tracks, let me clue you in. They were horrible. While the wide tape may have given us the idea that it was higher quality than a cassette, the truth was that the wide tape was actually divided up into 4 programs with 2 channels (left, right) for each (thus, 8 tracks). The programs ran simultaneously on the same length of tape. Frequently a song would be split into 2 programs. You would hear a fade out, then “Ka-chung” as the tape player automatically switched programs, and the second half of the song would fade in. Perhaps this 8 Track stunt will also remind us how fortunate we are to now live in an era of iPods.