With product placement already ubiquitous in television and movies, the next logical place for brand integration is the CD — and Mariah Carey is taking the first step.
Brandweek magazine has reported that Carey's upcoming CD, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, will feature a 34-page insert in the CD booklet that is a collaboration with Elle magazine and which will include ads from upscale brands like Elizabeth Arden, Angel Champagne, Carmen Steffens, Le Métier de Beauté and the Bahamas Board of Tourism.
In addition to the ads, the mini-magazine will feature stories about the singer with titles such as "VIP Access to Her Sexy Love Life," "Amazing Closet" and "Recording Rituals" written and designed by the Elle team and mixed in with lyrics and other traditional liner-note materials. A spokesperson for Carey's label, Island/Def Jam, confirmed the report.
The ad-supported booklets — which will also be available in a digital format for downloaders — will appear in the first 1 million U.S. copies of the CD and the first 500,000 overseas, and if the experiment is well-received, even bigger branding deals could be in the works for upcoming CDs from Rihanna, Bon Jovi, Kanye West and other IDJ acts, according to the magazine.
A condensed version of the booklet, without the music-specific material, will be inserted into 500,000 subscription copies of Elle's October issue.
"The idea was really simple thinking: 'We sell millions of records, so you should advertise with us,' " said Antonio "L.A." Reid, IDJ's chairman. "My artists have substantial circulation — when you sell 2 million, 5 million, 8 million, that's a lot of eyeballs. Most magazines aren't as successful as those records." Reid said Carey was "very open" to the idea when he showed her a mock-up of the magazine with brands that fit her jet-setter lifestyle. "I wouldn't want to do Mariah Carey and Comet abrasive cleaner," Reid said. "I wanted things that really reflected her taste." Advertising revenues will subsidize the label's entire costs for producing the booklet.
The deal comes amid the continuing bad news for the music industry, which has seen sales down 13.9 percent so far this year compared with last year. It also follows on the heels of last year's deal by Chris Brown's label, Jive Records, with the William Wrigley Jr. company, which found him writing and recording a single, "Forever," that doubled as a commercial for Doublemint gum, a campaign that was suspended after Brown was arrested for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna; Brown pleaded guilty to a felony count of assault and was recently sentenced to 180 days of community service.
The Mariah initiative also gives IDJ a chance to promote the CD outside of traditional music stores and the constantly shrinking music aisles in large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. At Wal-Mart, the CD will be featured outside the music section in a special display coordinated with Carey's new Arden fragrance, Forever, which will be advertised on the booklet's back cover. The CD and perfume will also be displayed together in the stores' beauty departments.