5 Marketing Lessons from Daft Punk

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It was impossible to miss the news about Daft Punk break up this week. The way they revealed it, through a video without any details, is aligned with their communication strategy.

In the 90s, they were already doing things differently and continued to do so during their full career. There are fascinating stories about their approach and the way they promote their music.

Their strategy developed during 28 years can be a great inspiration. So, what can we learn from Daft Punk’s marketing approach?

1 — Cultivate Mystery

Mystery is one of the core components of Daft Punk. Shortly after their debut album release, they started wearing masks and created robot characters. What started as a desire of focusing on the music instead of their identity ended up as a strong communication asset.

Throughout their career, the duo made very few public appearances and the only time they talked in front of a camera was probably for an unmasked interview in 1995.

“If you can stay protected and get noticed then it’s all good”, Thomas Bangalter, 2006

The way they announced their break up is no exception. In the Epilogue video, taken from their movie Electroma, the end is quite enigmatic. It leaves room for multiple interpretations, and some fans believe that it’s not the end yet. They may split in 2021, but that leaves 10 months for potential new music, right?

2 — Adopt a Slow Content Mindset

Slow content is a trend becoming more and more popular. We are bombarded with information all the time, and it’s impossible to keep up. While social media platforms want you to publish constantly, slow content adopts a slower pace, with more added value.

It’s the way Daft Punk create music (except the album Human After All, recorded in 2 weeks) but also how they communicate. Their campaign around Random Access Memories in 2013 is one of the best examples. After revealing the album cover, they aired a 15 seconds teaser on US TV show Saturday Night Live. This Nile Rodgers riff from Get Lucky quickly made the world crazy.

A few weeks later, they unveiled a longer extract at Coachella, without even performing at the festival. The video clip extract showing Pharell WilliamsNile Rodgers and the full list of collaborators created unprecedented anticipation for the album.

They adopt the same strategy on social media. Since 2015, they shared about 50 posts on Instagram. This very limited information creates a lot of excitement and discussion around the web. Most artists are posting on social media every day, but Daft Punk takes the opposite approach. With them, no Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)!

3 —Generate User Generated Content (UGC)

Daft Punk can afford to post very little content because fans are doing it for them. The duo gathers a very engaged community publishing a lot of posts on social media and online communities like reddit.

This came into full action in 2013 for the release of Random Access Memories, when social media was more widely used than for their previous releases.

There are thousands of online Daft Punk UGC, from fan arts to covers. One of the most impressive creations is this animated video for Give Life Back to Music, cumulating 4 million views.

For the promotion of Random Access Memories, Daft Punk mostly relied on offline channels, with very little promotion online. Why bother, when their fans are doing it for them? The multiple teasing elements (billboards in US cities, ads on TV and Coachella) were shared heavily on social media before the release.

The duo appreciate this support from fans, as Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo outlined in an interview:

“It’s really flattering to see that people bounce different stuff off what we do. It’s really cool because everyone can give their own interpretation. With small video cameras and computers, it’s gotten so much more creative than before; with the right tools, you can create whatever you want. It’s just funny to see so many different ideas and different stuff. It’s cool… What people [do] on YouTube is far more exciting — much more lively than what we could do ourselves.”

4— Leverage the Power of Collaborations

Early in their career, Daft Punk bet on collaborations. In 1995, they asked Spike Jonze to produce the video for Da Funk. 2 years later, Michel Gondry created the one for Around The World.

The duo worked with a number of artists such as Nile RodgersPharell WilliamsThe Weeknd… Most importantly, these collaborations allow to innovate and create quality music. And it’s also a powerful way to reach more listeners.

The robots also collaborated with various brands such as Disney for the movie Tron Legacy, Coca-Cola for limited edition bottles, Apple for a feature of Technologic in an iPhone ad, Saint Laurent who created their suits for “Get Lucky” video…

This allowed them to associate their names to major brands, reaching different groups of people. This contributed to quickly moving them away from the underground scene and become pop culture icons.

5 — Create Emotion

One of the essential strengths of the duo is to create emotions through their music. Many people have memories of their hits, at different eras: Around the World, One More Time, Technologic, Get Lucky…

Whether it’s by their music, video clips, live shows experience or teasing, the band established a strong emotional connection with listeners. This was a particular focus with Discovery and its animated video for each song.

Random Access Memories also leveraged emotions with its retro touch and disco soundGet Lucky is a great example: it both attracted the generation who used to dance to Chic and the younger generation listening to Pharell Williams. This retro touch was present in their communication, with vintage ads promoting their merchandising.

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