Has there ever been such a hyped album launch as Adele’s $50million Operation Overkill? From two Vogue covers to booking the planet’s supply of vinyl, ALISON BOSHOFF says singer’s return to the spotlight couldn’t have been more exhaustive
Has there ever been a bigger global marketing blitz? From the number 30 mysteriously appearing on buildings around the world, to an unprecedented two Vogue covers and a series of starry interviews, Adele’s return to the spotlight for the release of her new album, 30, couldn’t have been more exhaustive.
But then, with an army of LA’s top movers and shakers — plus a budget of £35 million — at her disposal, it’s no surprise she’s taken the world by storm.
From brokering peace between Vogue bosses Edward Enninful and Anna Wintour to battling a shortage of vinyl and elbowing other artists out of the way, we reveal how the singer managed an Adele of an album launch . . .
HINTS THAT BEGAN YEARS AGO
On May 5, 2019, her 31st birthday, Adele officially started the 30 bandwagon.
Under a set of black-and-white images of herself, she wrote on Instagram: ‘This is 31 . . . thank f***king god. 30 tried me so hard, but I’m owning it and trying my hardest to lean in to it all.
’31 is going to be a big ol’ year and I’m going to spend it all on myself. For the first time in a decade I’m ready to feel the world around me and look up for once.’
Readers should note that we now know the chorus of 30’s key track, Easy On Me, says: ‘Go easy on me baby / I was still a child / Didn’t have the chance to / Feel the world around me.’
Chic: On May 5, 2019, her 31st birthday, Adele officially started the 30 bandwagon
SPINNING A SECRET SUMMER CRISIS
One of the first speed bumps to be navigated this summer en route to the album’s release was that of vinyl.
Only a handful of vinyl pressing plants exist — there are only ten established ones of any meaningful size worldwide — and they are currently battling a shortage of PVC.
Yet Sony — Adele’s label — wanted 500,000 copies of the album pressed.
That’s an enormous number. For context, reprints of the most popular album sold in the UK, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, sell around 30,000 a year. Sony had to send the album to pressing plants six months in advance, and downsize orders for big selling heritage albums at the same time.
Adele’s vinyl grab has affected some smaller artists, including Billy Bragg, who has delayed the release of his next album because there simply isn’t any spare vinyl manufacturing capacity.
Vinyl is the highest grossing format for artists and record labels, and Adele’s charging £35 for a limited edition clear vinyl of 30.
Vinyl is the highest grossing format for artists and record labels, and Adele’s charging £35 for a limited edition clear vinyl of 30. Chat: Adele is interviewed by Oprah
WHAT DOES TAYLOR KNOW?
On September 30, Adele’s friend Taylor Swift brought the release of her new album, Red: Taylor’s Version, forward from November 19 to November 12.
Though she made no mention of her reasons, fans of the pop star immediately began speculating on social media about what could have caused a star of Taylor’s standing to change a launch date she had revealed months earlier in June.
Their conclusion? Only an artist of similar superstardom, one who fans had long been begging to produce new material. And so the rumours of the release of a new Adele album on November 19 began to swirl.
On October 1, projections of the number 30 were seen on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome and the Empire State Building in New York.
From this date there were also a number of billboards in cities across the world bearing ’30’ in gold on blue.
Then, on October 4, Adele updated her Twitter and Instagram pages to the same gold and blue colour scheme.
Music: On October 5, an artfully shot black and white teaser clip announced the release of the single Easy On Me on October 15
On October 5, an artfully shot black and white teaser clip announced the release of the single Easy On Me on October 15. It showed Adele driving a car and revealed the opening of the song, gaining more than 2 million views in an hour.
The video for Easy On Me was filmed in Quebec, Canada, on September 15 and 16. It was directed by Xavier Dolan, who also directed her video for 25’s main track, Hello, and filmed in the same house, a mansion in a vineyard in Sutton. Up to 100 crew were involved in the shoot.
In the video, Adele wears a Lanvin PVC trench coat that was custom-designed for her by Bruno Sialelli of the label, and is worth around £3,000.
VOGUE DOUBLE WHAMMY
On October 7, U.S. Vogue and UK Vogue simultaneously released their November editions with Adele as the cover star — the first time they’ve shared a cover star the same month.
The impact was huge, with 42.1 million views and shares online, and 23.5 million views of associated video content.
Sergio Kletnoy, Vogue’s global entertainment director, is the man who masterminded the scoop. He’s friends with Adele’s pal, the British pop star Harry Styles — and reveals that the famously steely British executive Anna Wintour was the one who had the brainwave.
The joint project brought Wintour and Enninful together and marks a ceasefire between the two empires after years of frosty relations.
Kletnoy told the Mail: ‘Anna suggested we explore the idea of our UK and U.S. editions sharing a cover star, and together Anna and Edward came up with a plan of featuring two very different cover shoots, two unique videos, and two very different writers.
‘It took a ton of conversation — and trust — between the Vogue teams on both sides of the Atlantic. For a joint project like this, you don’t want to tell the same story twice. We were careful to preserve the point of view and personality of our two titles — both our storytelling and our visual approaches complemented each other.
Cover star: On October 7, U.S. Vogue and UK Vogue simultaneously released their November editions with Adele as the cover star — the first time they’ve shared a cover star the same month
‘Adele was gracious enough to give each of our two very different writers a unique experience . . . Both of our writers also got to hear her new music, and Adele played different songs for each. She is also just the most colourful storyteller — she knows how to make each interview different. It was all about open communication and a good bit of trust.’
So how did Vogue get Adele in the first place? ‘This has been a long time coming’, Sergio explains. ‘I’ve been speaking with Adele’s team for a few years. When we finally received bits and pieces about music coming sometime in late 2021, I began intense negotiations with her publicist.
‘Adele was incredibly excited. She gave us the better part of a week of her time to make two shoots, two videos, and two interviews. We had all waited for so long to hear new music, and we knew that being the first shoot and interview leading up to the launch needed to be an epic moment.
‘Since Adele lives in the U.S., both of these shoots took place here . . . Adele loved the clothes and worked with our fashion editor Tonne Goodman on every look for the American cover. We also shot a 73 Questions video [a Vogue series of quickfire celebrity interviews] — she was up for anything. ‘I’ve watched every single episode,’ she told us, ‘and this is a long time coming’.’
THE SINGLE HAS LANDED
Upon release on October 15, Easy On Me broke the record for the most streamed song in one day, with 24 million in a day and almost 85 million in a week. The single has gone to No 1 in 23 countries. Meanwhile, 30 has broken Apple Music’s record for the most ‘pre-added’ album (when people add an album to a playlist before it is released).
Adele One Night Only was filmed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles on October 24. The two-hour special features an interview with Oprah Winfrey, alongside concert footage.
Her son, Angelo, and ex-husband, Simon Konecki, were among the star-studded LA audience, which also included Gordon Ramsay and TV presenter Gayle King.
The ITV special, filmed last weekend, had an equally starry audience including Dua Lipa, Emma Watson and Emma Thompson.
At both shows she performed Easy On Me, as well as new song I Drink Wine and several old hits.
Sources at the London show reveal that all audience members had to sign a waiver promising not to talk about the show. They all also had to have their mobile phones bagged up and sealed with a magnetic lock.
Night out: Adele One Night Only was filmed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles on October 24. The two-hour special features an interview with Oprah Winfrey, alongside concert footage.
All questions from the celebrities were scripted and Adele gave ‘very well rehearsed’ answers. One in the audience said she appeared ‘very nervous’ and almost monosyllabic at the start of the show.
Her boyfriend, Rich Paul, watched from backstage and they left together directly afterwards.
For the LA show, it can be revealed that Oprah changed into a white suit to match Adele’s for their interview after seeing what Adele was wearing.
I’m told: ‘The shows were her idea. The record company were keen for her to do the usual rounds of chat shows but she wanted to keep it more controlled.’
Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend, said the two women had not met before the interview in Oprah’s famous rose garden and it was a ‘special day’ for them both.
LOYAL GLAM SQUAD
Throughout her media push, Adele has been relying on the same squad for professional and personal appearances. Make-up artist Anthony H Nguyen worked on her video and all the album art. He also did her make-up when Adele went Instagram official at a wedding with sports agent Rich Paul in September. They’ve been working together since 2018.
Hairdresser Sami Knight has done her hair for the album cover, the video and the Vogue shoots.
Adele used two stylists: Gaelle Paul, who she’s been working with since the album 25, and Jamie Mizrahi. Mizrahi chose the Schiaparelli dresses she wore to the wedding with Rich Paul, and on stage in Los Angeles and London this month.
Real: Adele on Instagram live. Throughout her media push, Adele has been relying on the same squad for professional and personal appearances
FROM KARAOKE WITH CORDEN TO TRANSATLANTIC TV SPECIALS
Adele and James Corden got to know each other in 2009 when they met after her first ever TV performance, singing Chasing Pavements on T4. She and Corden, then best known for his role in the comedy series Gavin And Stacey, were both regulars on London’s social scene.
In 2016 she performed on Corden’s Carpool Karaoke , a segment of his U.S. chat show, the Late Late Show. The show’s producer, British TV executive Ben Winston, son of Lord Robert Winston, is also a close friend.
With 30’s release on November 19, Adele is doing two TV specials: Adele One Night Only for the American TV network CBS, airing tomorrow, and An Audience With Adele for ITV, to air on November 21. Both shows are being made by Ben Winston via the production company Fulwell 73 — of which Corden is also a director.
Friends: With 30’s release on November 19, Adele is doing two TV specials: Adele One Night Only for the American TV network CBS, airing tomorrow, and An Audience With Adele for ITV, to air on November 21
THE BRIT TEAM BEHIND HER
Adele is being guided by an almost all-British team. Her manager since 2006 is Jonathan Dickins, who signed her up even before she had a record deal after hearing her on social media site Myspace. He takes a producing credit on both her TV shows.
Londoner Dickins paid himself £10 million last year thanks to Adele’s success. His sister Lucy is Adele’s agent.
Adele signed a £90 million deal with Sony in 2016, and this is her first album to be released under Sony’s Columbia label imprint, which is run by Brit Rob Stringer, who is married to Julia Carling, ex-wife of rugby player Will.
In the UK, Columbia is run by Ferdy Unger-Hamilton. He too is a pal of Adele’s and is most famous for having written the song Rise for Gabrielle — which Adele used to belt out when she was at the Brit School in her teens.
Multiple industry sources say Sony will have spent £35 million on advertising the launch of the album. It has been traditionally marketed with billboard and media advertising alongside a social media and TV blitz.
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