Island Mounts All-Out Promo for U2

Billboard by Jean Rosenbluth (1987-03-28)

LP Released Worldwide Simulataneously

NEW YORK — U2’s new Island album, “The Joshua Tree,” is the object of “the most complete merchandising effort ever assembled in my career,” says Lou Maglia, president of the label. Coupled with a carefully laid-out radio plan, the marketing program will help the record become the biggest-selling U2 album ever and Island’s most popular release of the year, according to Maglia and other label executives.

The album was released worldwide March 9, the first time Island has issued a U2 record simultaneously across the globe. It shipped platinum in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S., where, because of a complex distribution network, its street date was March 16.

In another first for the label, the CD of “The Joshua Tree” went out at the same time as the cassette and LP. The CD’s 4- by 12-inch longbox has different graphics from the LP.

A package containing 32 pieces of display materials has been distributed to retailers. “We put $100,000 into a point-of-purchase kit,” says Maglia. “It’s got everything from a 5-foot header card behind two browsers, posters, banners, divider cards — you name it.”

Maglia says Island took special precautions to make sure that the first single from the record, “With Or Without You,” was not played on the radio before the March 4 air dates. “We had the stuff hand-delivered to avoid the problem Warner Bros. had with Prince, and it worked. There were no leaks.”

Radio will have no problem getting a head start on the album’s next three singles, though, because they’ve already been chosen: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” and “Red Hill Mining Town.” Videos for all four songs, each one shot in a different locale, will be ready by the time the band begins a seven-month world tour April 2 in Tempe, Ariz.

In addition, a second Amnesty International tour—U2 was instrumental in organizing the first one—is in the planning stages, and it’s likely that the group will participate in this one as well.

Though touring will certainly boost sales, Maglia says it is not a crucial factor. “‘The Joshua Tree’ will grow on its own,” he says. “Records like this only come along once in a long while; the last one I was involved with was the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California.’”

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