Fleetwood Mac LP Gets Big Push

Warner's largest campaign ever

Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, rolling stone archive, old, photo
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Stevie Nicks performing onstage with Fleetwood Mac circa 1979.
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Warner Bros. Records is unveiling its largest promotional campaign ever to accompany the release of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk on October 17th.

The record company originally hired a New York advertising agency – Lord, Geller, Federico and Einstein – to develop a marketing strategy, but after reviewing the plan, Warners and Fleetwood Mac decided against using it. This was the first time in its history that the company went to an outside firm for an ad campaign.

"We felt we owed it to the band to exhaust every conceivable outlet," said Shelly Cooper, director of advertising for Warners. "We thought we might get a more creative campaign by going to an agency that has experience selling more than just records."

But Cooper said that the band, which has been heavily involved in planning the campaign, "felt it was being oversold, so the entire campaign is now being done in-house. It's more understated."

Added a source close to Fleetwood Mac: "When the group saw the agency's plan, they thought it was outrageous. They felt that they were being sold like a product – like chewing gum."

The True Life Confessions of Fleetwood Mac

The advertising agency, which specializes in paperback books, hadn't done any work for the record industry for about a dozen years, according to its executive vice-president Ed Yaconetti. "We developed a campaign and now it's in the hands of our client," he said. "We don't know whether they'll use it or not."

The Warners promotional plan is based on three elements taken from the two-record set's package – a Polaroid photo of a dog biting someone's leg (which appears on the album cover), italicized lettering (also used on the cover) and an inner-sleeve photo of the group by Norman Seeff. In addition to some of the usual ad devices, such as posters and stickers, Warners has developed a motorized floor display that features a silk-screened image of the dog.

Another offshoot of the campaign was the decision to release "Tusk" – a song that sounds more like an African tribal march than Fleetwood Mac – as the first single from the album. "That was Mick Fleetwood's idea," said Bob Regehr, vice-president of artist development and publicity for Warners. "I think what he had in mind was to pique people's interest. It's a conversation piece, something that will provoke people." (Warners had to recall its entire first shipment of the single, the bulk of which were pressed by Capitol, because of a scratch on the B side. The record was then re-pressed by CBS.)

The band also filmed an hour-long movie on the making of the album. It will probably air on television some time in November.

Though the company wouldn't say how much it plans to spend advertising Tusk, Cooper described the campaign as "huge" and added. "I wouldn't hesitate to say that we'll be spending considerable amounts for a long time to come."

This is a story from the November 1st, 1979 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 303: November 1, 1979