Beyonce and Jay Z: playing the game

So if you are a human and if you are alive you’ll have no doubt heard of the release of Lemonade, Beyonce’s second visual album and sixth studio album. When the album dropped on Tidal, a music streaming service co-owned by Jay-Z and no other than Bey herself, a chinese whisper was sent around the globe declaring it ‘Jay-Z’s one hundredth problem.’ But we’re not so sure.

Like everyone else, we were automatically sucked into the gossip and disbelief at the album tracks which were dripping with accusations of infidelity (who could do that to Bey!?) and tried to decipher who ‘Becky with the good hair’ was. Even us seasoned PR professionals managed to overlook, for a little while, the fact that this might just be one of the best marketing stunts we’ve seen in a long time.

However, it doesn’t take a genius to step back and realise that, being co-owners of Tidal, Bey and Jay will be making a LOT of money from this record, largely due to the speculation surrounding it and spurring even non-Beyonce fans to take a minute to watch her smugly smashing up some cars with a baseball bat (*the dream).

The figures speak for themselves – Lemonade reached number 1 in the UK, selling 73,000 copies in its first week and 485,000 copies in the US, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200. Within this first week, every song on the record also debuted on the Billboard 100 chart, surpassing Taylor Swift’s record of reaching eleven songs at one time on the chart. Music Business Worldwide broke down these figures into monetary terms (let’s face it, that’s what we want to know) and in the first couple of days it’s predicted that the album was turning over £3m per day. PER DAY.

Fuel was added to the Lemonade fire in the form of Rita Ora posting a sultry snap in a cute lemon bra with a gold ‘J’ dangling from a chain around her neck, causing suspicion to set in. This, coupled with the fact that she was spotted wearing the same dress worn by Beyonce in her music video (who would even dare) alerted us to the fact that Lemonade may just be one big game and we’ve all opted in to play a part.

While speculation ensued as a result of these very public allusions to Bey and Jay’s apparent marriage crisis, deeming Rita Ora to be the one and only ‘Becky,’ those of us trained with a PR and marketing eye began to take note of this very clever media manipulation. Rita then proceeded to step out at the Met Gala this week wearing a ‘Not Becky’ badge which all seemed a little too planned, alerting us to the fact that there are more players in this game of love, war and marketing than initially expected.

No doubt, Lemonade will proffer the opportunity for a follow up ‘response’ record from Jay Z – who by the way still looks pretty happily married after Beyonce announced on stage recently ‘I love you so much’ – and capitalising on this marketer’s dream. Jay Z even features on the visual record, kissing Beyonce’s feet in supposed contrition, and confirming to the world that he was as much a part of the record as Beyonce.

While we may never know whether the references to infidelity are founded on any version of truth, the King and Queen of music have played this game like the experts they are and we’re more than happy to play along with them.

– Lauren Mason, Senior Account Executive

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