The Marketing Polka: How Weird Al Found the Right Audiences for His Songs

 When it came to promoting his fourteenth and final album under contract with RCA, Al Yankovic (better known by his stage name, “Weird” Al) killed it. His strategy: releasing songs exclusively on different websites, each tailored to that site’s audience. The result? Mandatory Fun, his first-ever Billboard #1 album (congrats!). Here’s how Weird Al rocketed to first place with some of the finest tailored content on the Internet today—and how you can make the same practice work for your own brand.

Do you know who’s watching?

Weird Al knew where to find his audience. He partnered with the biggest players in online content, from CollegeHumor to PopCrush, and decided which songs would work specifically for those audiences. For example, his eighth and final video premiered on The Wall Street Journal Speakeasy blog, which might seem like a strange place for a song by a musician who sings about giant hamsters and the Amish—that is, until you listen to “Mission Statement” and watch the video.

The song pokes fun at overused business jargon in the tune of Crosby, Stills, & Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Weird Al explained to the Journal, “I wanted to do a song about all the ridiculous double-speak and meaningless buzzwords that I’ve been hearing in office environments my entire life. I just thought it would be ironic to juxtapose that with the song stylings of CSN, whose music pretty much symbolizes the antithesis of corporate America.”

Rather than making something to try to appeal to everyone, make something awesome and sell it to the people who will appreciate it.

Once he located his target audience, he spoke to them in their own language. Through his content, Weird Al masterfully walks the line between humor and satire and creates the perfect tension that enlightens without aggravating (for the most part) the audience. It’s a matter of using the Internet to target particular segments of your fan base in the places those people visit. Most importantly, it’s a matter of creating quality, thought-provoking content that your audience will appreciate.

Just the right amount of (mandatory) fun

In addition to his use of the Internet, another defining feature of Weird Al’s content deployment strategy was his use of timing—eight videos in eight days, one video per day. It’s the perfect amount of time for building interest and suspense before crossing the threshold of being old, exasperating news. It’s about being top of mind in a new, exciting, and anticipatory way rather than smothering your audience with content until they’re driven to either indifference or active dislike.   

In a conversation with Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney, Weird Al said, “the Internet consumes things very quickly, things go viral for a day—you can be famous for 24 hours. So I figured the best way to advertise my new album is every single day of release week, put out a new video people get excited about.” In the case of Weird Al, his content was good because it was timely, but he was careful not to overplay his hand.

What brands can learn from Weird Al

The lesson here is to understand what motivates your audience, go to where they are, and appeal to them with content that will resonate and make an impression. Because of Weird Al’s eclectic subject matter for each of his songs, it made sense to partner with websites with audiences that would appreciate the subject matter of each song. That’s the essence of successful content marketing: rather than making something to try to appeal to everyone, make something awesome and sell it to the people who will appreciate it.