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Music Industry Communications: Why Rodrigo’s “Sour” had such “Sweet” Success

By: Anna Thompson, Account Executive

It might be “brutal” out in the communications industry, but songwriting extraordinaire Olivia Rodrigo knows how to market both her brand and her music. At only 18 years old, she has taken the music industry by storm in less than a year.

Her hit song “Drivers License,” sparked the beginning of her career as a solo artist, reflecting on her heartbreak with her fellow co-star, Joshua Bassett. Whether intentional or truly authentic, her PR team was able to capitalize on the drama. “Drivers License” became a trending song on TikTok and beloved by fans.

Following the success of the hit single, Rodrigo later released a full-length album titled Sour in May of 2021. The themes of her songs draw from teenage rebellion, angst, and heartbreak. Influenced by Taylor Swift, Rodrigo brands herself as a vulnerable and authentic songwriter. Even as a talented songwriter and performer, Rodrigo’s success would not be complete without the help of her PR and communications team.

Rodrigo’s personality and creative ideas were captured in the promotion for the music. The album and single graphics are reminiscent of Y2K, currently trending right now among the GenZ demographic. This aesthetic and authenticity is highlighted in the album’s trailer, showing the creation of the music production and sneak peaks of music videos. This video trailer premiered at a Mother’s Day showing of “In the Heights” and also displayed a “Sour” hotline number. If fans called, a snippet of an unreleased album song would be played on the line.

Around major cities, large murals were painted replicating the Sour album cover. Fans can search for the murals and take pictures, furthering promoting and creating hype around Rodrigo’s first album. PR packages were also sent to major celebrities, including Kim Kardashain, who shared hers on social media. These planning tactics allowed Rodrigo to promote her music to a large audience even wider than her own fanbase.

Although the album was created and released still during the pandemic, Rodrigo’s team found creative ways to hold promotional events for the release of her album Sour. For instance, a “Sour Car Wash” was held on the day of the album release. Rodrigo had the chance to meet fans and give away free “Sour” branded Sour Patch Kids. The car wash gives a slight nod to Rodrigo’s song “Drivers License,” tying the single and the overall album theme together.

Following the successful release of the album, Rodrigo held a “Sour Prom,” a virtual concert experience mimicking a high school prom. As a child actress, Rodrigo never experienced a real prom, similar to many fans unable to attend prom due to the pandemic. For the streaming of “Sour Prom,” a handful of lucky fans were selected to attend the viewing party in person and dress up for the event.

Olivia Rodrigo has been a widely talked about music artist over the past year. All eyes will be on her as the Grammys approach. Due to her strategic branding and stellar songwriting abilities, she has a good chance of taking home a win!

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