Hip-hop artist Jay-Z's latest album, "Magna Carta Holy Grail," is out today, but it went platinum before it even launched, thanks to just one customer.
Samsung bought a million copies at $5 a pop for its smartphone users to download with a special app a few days before the record's official launch.
The company is definitely getting publicity out of the promotion, just not the kind it bargained for. At midnight on the fourth of July, so many fans tried to download the record that Samsung's app crashed.
Then people complained the app wanted too much personal information and hijacked their Twitter accounts to announce when they downloaded lyrics.
Telecom industry consultant Derek Kerton gives Samsung a pass on the technical problems. "It's just always so difficult to estimate what the demand is going to be," he explains. "Yes, we know people love Jay-Z and X-many people may download it, but do we know when they're going to download it?"
On the privacy issue, Kerton says by now the mobile industry should know better than to overreach. "Samsung here had basically established a deal, buy our phone, get Jay-Z music, and then had altered the deal."
Kerton adds that promotions like this don't sell many phones, and it's hard to know whether the company got the bump in coolness it was really after in teaming up with one of the coolest guys on earth.
Jay-Z on the other hand...
"It was just a big coup for him," says brand consultant Matt Britton, CEO of MRY, a marketing firm that specializes in new media. "To have brand essentially pay for the launch of the album. Not to mention them buying a million copies of the album... What more could an artist ask for?"
Britton adds that just because Samsung bungled the execution doesn't mean the core marketing concept is a flop. He says smartphone technology is getting better across the board, so it's harder for mobile companies to stand out.
In that context, content is everything, and the cooler the better.