Eminem released the music video for his song “Headlights” yesterday.
While Sunday is not traditionally a day for releasing anything (that is, except your inner faith, if you’re into that), this particular project launch was special.
He may have historically been cast as a miscreant rapper, but Marshall Mathers is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to business. You don’t have to like him, but if you’re smart, you’ll read on for tangible lessons on why Eminem’s approach can help your earned media strategies.
One of the biggest challenges often cited by businesses or marketers is that their product or service offerings are difficult to message. And I hear the pain. So does Eminem, believe it or not. While Eminem is an entertainer, and people “like” music, his product does not appeal to everyone. In fact, he’s been the focal point of many naysayers in his career, despite his positioning as the second best selling male artist of the Nielsen Soundscan era.
“Headlights”, the fifth single off The Marshall Mathers LP 2, is an apology song to his mother, Debbie Mathers. That’s right, after all these years of dissing and missing, it’s all coming back together in a heartwarming track penned from Em’s heart. The song also features Fun. front man Nate Reuss, who lends his vocals to add heart to the chorus. As a longtime Eminem fan, it’s truly inspiring and warming to hear “his plea for a united, or at least less dysfunctional, family” on this bare naked track:
“I’m mad I didn’t get the chance to thank you for being my mom and my dad/
So mom, please accept this as a tribute I wrote this on the jet/ I guess I had to get this off my chest/
I hope I get the chance to lay it ‘fore I’m dead/
The stewardess said to fasten my seatbelt/ I guess we’re crashing
So if I’m not dreaming/ I hope you get this message
That I’ll always love you from afar cause you’re my momma.”
Watch the video for “Headlights” here.
It’s easy for fans to support launches, but getting the media to talk about you, and do so positively, isn’t always as seamless. Trust Eminem. He knows this. But by taking a few strategic measures, the launch is a huge success. Here’s why:
1. Eminem harnessed the power of influencers. One of the slick ways that Eminem has found a way to onto radio waves (which, let’s be real, cannot always be trusted to bring us “the best in music”) by tapping influential and top 40 artists. It is a conscious formula, he notes brilliantly in his song “Rap God”:
“Oh, he’s too mainstream/Well, that’s what they do
When they get jealous, they confuse it/
It’s not hip hop, it’s pop. ‘Cause I found a hella way to fuse it.”
In this case, Nate Reuss adds value and reach to additional audiences as the front man of another popular act. Eminem also tapped Spike Lee to direct the video. Other than the sheer genius of his direction, the added influence is in New York news coverage. The angle is that Spike Lee is a Brooklyn native. Boom: Wider, additional media coverage.
2. Eminem keeps principles of journalism top of mind. The “5 Ws” (Who, What, Where, When, Why) are important in your messaging. To have a successful launch that impacts your brand and effectively supports the messaging points you’re conveying, you have to keep things contextual. Eminem launched the video on Mother’s Day to add value to the theme of the song, which is a nice sentiment and an added bonus for press coverage.
3. Eminem knows how to tell a story. So not everybody can be a “Rap God”, or an impeccably wonderful storyteller, but taking your audience along a journey is a great way to connect meaningfully with them. Eminem came out of the gate with his story about the relationship rifts shared with his mom. He’s been incredibly vocal about it through song, and it’s helped his fans connect with him. His relationship with his mom actually has become part of his brand. This release brings the story full circle, and fans can revel in that. It’s also been a focal point of news coverage.
Congrats to Eminem on another successful launch.
“Why be a King when you can be a God?” -Marshall Mathers