After an unparalleled, 50-year career that redefined culture, Elton John was reaching the end of that Yellow Brick Road he immortalized in song. The 70-year-old global icon wasn’t retiring, he was simply saying goodbye to the rigors of the road. Our job was to coordinate the tech-forward Grammy-week announcement of his final three-year world tour.
We were communicating to the public—through the press—that Elton John is a vital, forward-thinking artist who plans to make music even though he is retiring from live concerts. We wanted to show fans that this tour was special by creating an innovative launch event that would captivate journalists and compel them to convey this news to their readers and boost ticket sales. We made sure everything we did communicated that urgency and that our release strategy was impactful enough to reach the widest possible audience. One of our biggest challenges was getting busy reporters to show up to a secretive daytime event during hectic Grammy week, and this is where developing good, strategic relationships with journalists paid off: When reporters trust you, they’re more likely to listen when you tell them something is worth their time
We crafted all communications, from the “save-the-date” to the press release, curated media lists and managed invites, planned and executed the event (with synchronized live satellite offshoots in London and L.A.) and engaged journalists throughout every step. At noon on Jan. 24, 2018, about 250 invited journalists packed into our marquee event at New York’s Gotham Hall—mostly on good faith and with limited information. (We hinted but hadn’t promised that John would attend).
At the theater, reporters were given headsets to watch a VR presentation highlighting key moments of John’s career on his path to global superstardom. In front of that full house, the stage revolved to reveal a piano and player, Elton John. Wearing his famous glittered suit and sunglasses, John performed “Tiny Dancer” and announced the three-year, 300-plus-show, five-continent tour in a Q&A with Anderson Cooper. Simultaneously, the announcement was transmitted to the Troubadour club in Los Angeles and YouTube Space in London and live-streamed globally on YouTube in VR180.
Our carefully crafted media announcement garnered the epic “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour more than 1.48 billion impressions across TV, print and online impressions in North America alone. (This figure does not cover all local print newspapers, TV or radio stations). When tickets went on sale to the general public on Feb. 2, 2018, the first 60 shows sold out within hours. Additional tour dates sold out, too. While we are unable to divulge our clients’ sales figures, a Feb. 2, 2018, story on Forbes website projected that the tour “may well gross more than the $400 million initially forecast for more than 300 shows across five continents.”
The program also won a Silver Award for Best Arts & Entertainment Campaign of 2017 from the Bulldog Media PR Awards.