Best practice from Silence
Valeriya is Russia's biggest pop star. She's sold over 100 million albums and had 17 number ones. Labelled 'Russia's Madonna' by the British media, she released her debut UK single, The Party's Over, in May, and will release an album, Out of Control, this summer.
Silence is Valeriya's digital agency. We manage her website, search engine marketing, social media strategy, content production and online advertising.
The online advertising campaign for The Party's Over targeted tastemakers in the media, like TV producers and music journalists, who might support her.
Although the Russian arts are highly regarded in this country, its pop music didn't travel well. The only pop artist to make an impression on us so far is Tatu, who are better known for their sexuality than their songs.
Valeriya is in a class of her own though, and can't be compared to any other Russian artist. A fashion icon, political ambassador, and survivor of a well-documented violent marriage, her remarkable career is regularly documented across the front pages of Russia's newspapers and magazines.
With Out of Control, Valeriya has recorded an album for the UK market. The lyrics are in English and the songs' producers have worked with artists like DJ Shadow, Body Rockers, New Order and The Prodigy.
Also, Valeriya is managed by Joseph Prigozhin, her husband and the mastermind behind her UK launch. Joseph owns Russia's largest independent record label and is referred to as "Russia's Simon Cowell" (he is one of the judges on the Russian X Factor).
Joseph encourages us to beat any cynicism that the UK media has for Russian pop artists with Valeriya's remarkable story and, of course, the strength of her music.
We were reminded of a neat trick that the music industry pulls with its posters. Sometimes they'll work out how an influential music journalist – Luke Bainbridge at The Observer newspaper say - gets to work.
Suddenly, along Luke's walk from Hackney to Clerkenwell posters appear of bands that record labels are trying to interest him in.
Rather than getting Luke on his way to work, we wanted to reach him via his favourite websites. Our research identified several websites popular with people like Luke, like Gaydar, Music Week, My Bliss, Pink News and Pop Justice.
We bought over 3 million page impressions across the homepages of these niche websites with video ads that featured a greeting from Valeriya, information about her career, and an extract from the video for The Party's Over.
We have a mantra at Silence: never use the same ad twice. We pitch our ads with the same sophistication that a publicist pitches an editor with a story, and that means tailoring it for the audience.
Our 'big idea' for Valeriya was to have her record an exclusive message for each ad, something that would catch the eye of the online audience we were targeting. The format we chose was the video ad, the MPU. Online video ads start with the sound muted – so our challenge was to get the users to click the speaker icon and listen to the ad.
This required a compelling image, and, following numerous planning meetings, we decided on Valeriya in a hotel room writing a message in lipstick on a mirror. In thick lipstick she writes, "I love Music Week" or "I love Gaydar" then turns to camera to say, "Hi, I'm Valeriya. You don't know me yet, but hopefully soon we'll become good friends."
The ad then kicks into the lively video for The Party's Over, which we cut with statistics and quotes, like this one from The Daily Telegraph: "A voice to rival Tina Turner."
Each ad had a click-through to Valeriya's page on iTunes.
The click-throughs smashed industry averages, with 40% of the people who interacted with the ads visiting Valeriya's iTunes page.
Matt Newton from Gaydar commented, "The Valeriya ads for Gaydar showed a real understanding of our audience, which is why the click-through rates are so high."
And the media took notice. Valeriya received an unprecedented amount of media coverage for The Party's Over, including TV interviews for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, articles in The Sun, The Times, The Express and The Independent, and appearances on Talksport and BBC London Radio.
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