Guest Post by: Charlie Osmond
Rage Against the Machine (RATM) have just had their first UK Number 1. They got it thanks to an extraordinary underground Facebook campaign, beating X-Factor winner Joe McElderry.
Rage Against the Machine on Facebook
The successful single, Killing in the Name, was released over 15 years ago. RATM spent nothing on marketing and yet they made it to Christmas No.1. Whatever your opinions of Rage Against the Machine, Simon Cowell, Facebook or Joe Mcelderry, this has been a great show of social media might.
A week ago X-Factor Winner Joe McElderry appeared to be a shoo-in for Christmas No.1. Every year, for four years, the Winner of X-Factor has been number one at Christmas. But this year Jon Morter (@Jon_Magic), a HiFi Technician from Essex, decided to set up a protest campaign on Facebook and promote Rage Against the Machine as a possible contender.
Why does this classify as an impressive victory for social media? Here’s a brief summary of what each single had going for it
Joe Mcelderry and the X-Factor machine
- 13 weeks of prime time TV appearances
- 4 years of X-Factor Christmas No.1’s (i.e. a great process for getting the result)
- Professional promotion – Simon Cowell’s company has been pulling out every stop.
- A pleasant song for Christmas – ideal stocking filler for mums across the UK
- 3 months of press articles, morning TV chat show appearances & radio interviews
- Online and offline advertising spend
- Store sales – Joe’s got a physical single that’s on sale in all good record stores – 500,000 in HMV alone (their largest ever singles order). The RATM single has not been re-released so it is not in store.
- Playlists – Joe gets lots of radio airplay thanks to being on key playlists
- Massive discounting – Tesco are selling Joe McElderry’s single The Climb for 29p. That’s less than half the 67p you’d pay for Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine.
- Point of purchase marketing – both in store, and also on the homepages of iTunes, Amazon, Play.com and Tesco.com (the four major MP3 retailers in the UK).
Rage Against the Machine had:
- £0 marketing budget
- an offensive song that caused 138 complaints last time it was played on Radio1 (Killing in the name)
- an unofficial facebook group set up by a fan
- a “charity angle” – I don’t think the donations to Shelter have been a large driver of success, but they helped prevent the campaign being seen as bullying of Joe and raised over £65k.
This seems like an appropriate way to end 2009 – a big year for Social Media.