Once upon a time, if you built it — and handed out lots of heavy, shiny, engraved statuettes on the dais when you got there — viewers would come. These days, however, traditional awards shows like the Grammys and the Oscars face both a numbing glut of competitors (next up, Gaffers’ Choice!) and the increasingly indifferent response of audiences. That’s why the former have taken it upon themselves to sign up the likes of Rihanna, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Lenny Kravitz, and Lil Wayne for a major Recording Academy campaign via TV, print, radio, and the Internet. Billboard talked to the Academy’s chief marketing officer, who said the campaign cost “in the mutli-millions” and is the most the organization has spent on an ad campaign in its history.
How does it work? According to a Grammy spokeswoman, each featured artist was asked to provide 10-20 songs that influenced them; the subsequent lyrics and song titles are then used in the print andtelevision ads. For Wayne, that means showcasing rappers like Jay-Z and Young Buck; for Yorke, it’s more esoteric choices like cultishly adored singer-songwriter Scott Walker, or chaotic post-punk outfit the Liars. You can check out Stevie Wonder’s ad embedded below; does it make you want to tune in? Or would it take a personal invite and a pan of brownies baked by Rihanna herself to to get you there? What else could the Grammys do to get you to watch?