Target is a brand known for its collaborations with musicians. Under the banner of “More,” the retailer has worked with artists such as Justin Timberlake, Shakira, and Janelle Monae to bring its customers exclusive content in the form of bonus tracks on albums sold only at Target. Now, the company has partnered with Coldplay to offer fans three bonus tracks from the band’s upcoming album Ghost Stories.
The exclusive deluxe album is being promoted with a commercial featuring the band’s new single “Sky Full of Stars.” Directed by famed music-video auteur Jonas Åkerlund of Serial Pictures (known for his high-profile videos for the likes of Madonna and Lady Gaga, and who recently directed the video for Coldplay’s “Magic”) and developed collaboratively between Target and Coldplay, along with agency Deutsch LA, the spot is a literal yet dreamy take on the song’s concept. In it, the band stands in a dusky, grassy setting surrounded by crafty origami stars with the song’s lyrics handwritten on them. As frontman Chris Martin grabs Target’s trademark vintage red microphone and starts to sing, the band begins to levitate. It’s pretty straightforward, but charming at the same time.
Target creative director Ruth Balbach says the concept came from conversations with the band that revealed the inspiration behind the album. “Chris talked about wanting to create a sense of magic and doing something that people wouldn’t expect, says Balbach. “Also, looking at the lyrics and the intent of this song really led us down this path to talk about stars and imbue the stars with more meaning. Together we came up with this idea of origami and taking the lyrics of that song and folding them into these stars.”
Coldplay was very involved in the creative side of the TV spot, says Phil Harvey, the band’s manager. “We played the music to the Target team long before the album was finished, and then had a series of meetings about the TV spot. It was Chris' idea to make the band levitate,” he says.
The most important part of creating the commercial for Åkerlund was ensuring that the essence of the brand and the band came through in what is, effectively, a full-length video concept packaged into 30 seconds. He says his previous collaborations with both helped him quickly identify what was most important. “When I have a relationship with the client and a celebrity in a commercial, I feel like my job is to communicate between the two. I know Coldplay’s DNA and I understand where they want to go right now, so I felt like part of my job was (communicating) part of Coldplay’s DNA,” Åkerlund says, describing how he’s been working with the band to understand where they want to go visually with this album. “I know what clothes they’re going to want to wear, I know how they’re going to want to look, I know that this album was made a little more analog and down to earth than they usually do it, so all those different things that I’ve been learning from the band over the last few months was really helpful when doing this commercial.”
Harvey says the fact that the band levitates, while a great visual trick to create instant impact, is integral to the band’s current outlook. “The levitation speaks to the theme of magic that runs through the album. For Chris, I think it represents a sense of escaping from the everyday world—like a kind of release,” he says. “There are lots of astral references on the record, so the origami stars obviously cover that. It's important as well that they're handmade and covered in handwritten lyrics. Everything Coldplay does is personal and rough around the edges. Not too slick. Even the grass feels appropriate, because we tried to keep this album connected to the natural world.”
And those origami stars are more than just a simple visual manifestation of the song’s title. They have since become one of the key visual motifs for the album. “We'll use them on every TV performance and at every show,” says Harvey. “The band fell in love with them as soon as they saw them on set because they're handmade and handwritten. And fragile. Plus they've got little lights inside—what's not to love?”
Target hopes that fans will love those stars as much as they do. In its quest to pay out on the campaign promise of “more,” the brand will be giving 250 stars away to fans. Those who tweet or Instagram pictures of the night sky with the hashtag #MoreColdplay will be entered to win a star, which is signed by the band.
When asked why this partnership made sense for Coldplay, Harvey says it was a combination of quality, opportunity, and a chance to get creative. “Target has always had a strong affiliation with new music and, as a band, we appreciate the fact that they've kept the faith with music as something to celebrate and promote. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a partner that will promote artists with a full creative campaign, including TV spots,” Harvey says. “Also, Target's music promo spots are always of an exceptional quality and often come to define an artist's whole album campaign. Teaming up with Target offers Coldplay a chance to get creative, and it was a great opportunity to release three songs that might never have been released.”
The album will be in stores on May 19 and is available for preorder now on Target.com, and the three bonus songs featured on Coldplay’s exclusive deluxe edition of Ghost Stories are “All Your Friends,” “Ghost Story,” and “O (Reprise).”