Swiftly Activated: Why OOH Engages Tortured Poets (and Other Music Lovers)

May 30, 2024

One might think Taylor Swift wouldn’t even need to promote her new album. That’s an understandable assumption given that she generated a billion dollars in global tour revenue and sold 1.79% of all the music in the U.S. last year (SOURCES: Pollstar, Luminate). But even the planet’s most popular musician builds her brand and engages her audience with out of home.


So in the days leading up to the release of The Tortured Poets Department, Spotify amped up the anticipation by treating Los Angeles to an elaborate brand activation at The Grove, bringing the album to life as an open-air poetry library in the heart of this cheerful lifestyle center.


Taylor Swift The Tortured Poets Department Spotify library installation at The Grove in Los Angeles


Fans drove for hours for their chance to explore the art installation, some waiting in line for hours more. Sharp-eyed Swifties caught the numerous Easter eggs hidden throughout, sly references to lines from classic Taylor tunes. As for the new album, its lyrics were represented by props like the gold cage referenced in “So It Goes…,” which Spotify’s street team revealed one by one throughout the three-day event. On social media, pictures of the library went far and wide, leading fans all over the world to obsessively pore over the clues and debate their meanings. The activation collected copious amounts of earned media as well, with coverage in outlets as wide-reaching as Elle, People, Us Weekly, and CBS News.


Large crowd at The Grove in Los Angeles for Taylor Swift Spotify brand activation


And the results? One day after the activation, TTPD dropped and instantly made history by becoming the first album ever to have 3 million Spotify streams in a single day, with “Fortnight” delivering the single-biggest streaming day for any song in Spotify history. All 14 tracks from the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100, including a complete takeover of the top 10 (SOURCE: Billboard).


Digital spectacular at The Grove promotion Taylor Swift's The Tortured Poets Department


Admittedly, this installation probably didn’t do all that by itself. But brand activations like it are a powerful tool to surprise and delight today’s experience-seeking consumer, increasing trust among 77% and driving 3x the word of mouth of brands that don’t activate (SOURCES: Freeman, G2). And since by definition brand activations can only happen out of home, our media is critical to driving their success. For proof, look no further than the 2024 OAAA Local Media Plan Awards, where our Boston OOH campaign supporting an Icelandair activation won the grand prize.


But activations are only one prong in Spotify’s OOH strategy. Like many other streamers, Spotify has a prolific presence on our media, with digital out of home playing a particularly important role in the mix. That’s because with approximately 100,000 new tracks uploaded daily, there’s always something new to promote (SOURCE: UMG). So every Friday there’s a fresh set of Spotify creative to go along with its Discover Weekly playlists. DOOH gives Spotify the agility needed not only to always showcase the latest and greatest but to hyperlocalize content for maximum relevance and impact.


Localized Spotify DOOH billboard digital bulletin in Chicago


Much for the same reasons, the music industry in general consistently relies on digital out of home. For this category, it’s primarily an awareness play – whether it’s an up-and-coming artist a record label wants to promote, a new release from an old favorite, or a live performance at a concert venue.


DOOH lets advertisers take it to the next level with dynamic creative. With our XPress dynamic content capability, record labels can incorporate a countdown to a new release while concert venues can automatically trigger a “last tickets available!” message when inventory runs low. As a full-funnel channel, OOH’s benefits go beyond brand awareness. It drives conversions as well – with a QR code representing the path of least resistance between listener and song.


Liveboard for a concert with a QR code to buy tickets.


But beyond all its strategic and tactical advantages, there’s a less tangible but no less important factor making OOH so impactful all across the music industry. It’s the personal nature of a fan’s relationship with the music they consume. More than half of consumers will engage with an OOH ad featuring their favorite musician; more than 1 in 10 say that’s the content they’re most likely to share (SOURCE: The Harris Poll).


Out of home advertising – DOOH in particular – activates like no other medium. If that sounds like music to your ears, get in touch today to discuss your next campaign.



Author: Jay Fenster, Marketing Manager @ OUTFRONT

Links to third-party content are not endorsed by OUTFRONT Media.