Beyond the Horizon: NLOTH Merchandise 10 Years Later
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2019-02-27)
Ten years ago, U2 released No Line on the Horizon. Feels like yesterday doesn’t it? With each album release there’s a wealth of promotional material released. The Joshua Tree in a pizza box? Disco ball that opens up to serve you a copy of Pop? An alarm clock that looks like a bomb for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb? We’ve got a soft spot here at U2Songs.com for some of these promotional items, and today to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the release of one of our favourite albums, we’re going to take a look back at some of the items released to promote it.
The first thing to notice is there were no big promotional gimmick type items for this release. The merchandise that was release for promotion was smaller, and seemed to be limited compared to that produced for other albums. And unlike some album campaigns, like the travel themed items for All That You Can’t Leave Behind, there didn’t seem to be a clear theme to the items for No Line on the Horizon. That being said there were a number of interesting items produced for the album, and the tour that followed.
Album Release Promotion
Promotional Mug for Album Release (Photo from eil.com)
Among the items produced and given out as the album was being distributed was a white mug, It has the logo used for promotion of the album in grey, simply a grey U, 2 and the equals sign in between. Mugs have been used for a number of album promotional items including a mug for How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb which changed appearance with hot liquids, and a mug for U218 Singles which features the lyrics for “Window in the Skies”.
Another idea that repeated from earlier campaigns was a Moleskine journal. The journal is a hard cover journal, blank inside, with the same logo as the mug in white on the front. In white on the back along the bottom is the lettering from the album stating “No Line on the Horizon”. There was a similar journal produced for the U218 Singles collection, and a promotional journal similar in style but made by another company for Songs of Experience. A Songs of Innocence journal exists as well but wasn’t a promotional item, it was sold through U2.Com.
Perhaps one of the odder items produced was a disposable camera. Not quite sure where the band were going with this one, but the camera was a working disposable camera, which featured art from the album on the front side of the camera. By 2009 when this item was released, film cameras had already started to be replaced by digital cameras, and these disposables were starting to fall out of favour.
There were also the usual trinkets, a promotional only keychain in white with the same U2 logo with the equals sign in grey is a very sharp looking item. And a four pack of buttons was also produced, quite often sent out bundled with some of the other items above.
With any item, there’s usually a couple of fun releases. No Line on the Horizon had fewer of these unique releases but there were a couple of note around the world.
Up first, in HMV in the UK, you could buy an exclusive version of the album in a white slip case. Not only were these available in store, a number of these were also given out as part of promotional packages. It just covered the normal UK release of the single and there were no other added items other than the slipcase.
Another UK exclusive was a mail in offer. You could sign up with U2.Com through the site, nolineonthehorizon.com (the site no longer works) and ask for one to be sent to you. The item? A limited edition box which would hold all four 7-Inch singles released from the album. (Shhhsh, we know there were only three!) The item was limited to only 4000 copies, although we’ve seen numbers that go slightly higher. This is common practice with numbered items to ensure that additional copies are available in the case of damage.
The description of the item was: “With ‘Boots’ released in the UK on Monday, complete with the title track of the new album on the b-side, the record company have launched a very cool competition – they’re giving away 4,000 7” Single Collector’s Edition Boxes.
The clamshell style boxes are individually numbered and will hold all four of the 7” singles that will be released from ‘No Line on the Horizon’. First up it’s Get On Your Boots which is available in HMV and all good independent record stores in the UK from this Monday, Feb 16th. One box per person and stocks are limited. Make sure you sign up by Tuesday 17th February to claim your box. The boxes will be mailed out at the end of w/c 23rd February to you.”
Our favorite release is probably the USB card from Uruguay. We showed off this card on our Instagram page a few days ago. Its the size of a credit card, and has a USB stick built in. You push the stick out, and it flips around, and can be read using a computer. On the card? A copy of the album in both WAVE and MP3 formats. It’s a beautiful little release, and was quite limited.
A few of the items for the album merchandise are listed above. There were a few others, including T-Shirts and other promotional items, but there wasn’t a whole lot more for the album itself. It seemed to be a limited campaign in that respect. Not so when it comes to tour merchandise. The tour, which ran for three years had a wealth of merchandise produced for it. This included commercially available items at the tour stands and at U2.Com, items given away exclusively to VIPs, items used on tour, and more.
Some of our favourite items are things that you may not have seen on a merchandise stand. A couple of examples? The cards given out as fans entered the venue the second night in Barcelona to notify them that a video was being filmed. A tour itinerary book, decorated with the “Infinity is a Great Place to Start” which includes information about the tour, and other information that the crew would need, and a nice leather luggage tag which was part of a VIP gift. Other VIP gifts on the tour included a fleece blanket decorated with the U2360 logo, and a travel toiletries kit.
One item that maybe we should try to forget were the masks of Aung San Suu Kyi that the band were trying to get people to wear during the show. At the time Suu Kyi was being celebrated by Amnesty International and U2 chose to highlight her, and the ongoing issues in Burma in concert. The band offered a print your own version on the website, another version was found in the tour book and could be punched out and worn, and at the opening show of the tour in Barcelona, there was one mask in each seat in the stadium as people arrived, and volunteers were handing them out by the hundreds as people entered the stadium.
Items at the merchandise stand included a wealth of T-shirts over the three years, at least three different keychain designs, a metall pin, buttons, tour programs and more. One unique T-shirt design featured a different design each city, listing the city dates as well as an architectural drawing of the stage in place in the stadium. Jackets were also produced in the colours of the teams for each city being visited. Posters, hats, mugs, tote bags…and even a unique line of T-shirts for the performance at Glastonbury which happened mid-tour. If there wasn’t a lot of physical promotional goods produced to promote the album, there was a wealth of collectibles produced related to the tour itself.
For more information on No Line on the Horizon, please check out our original discography entry for the album available here, or our entry for the new release of the album on vinyl for the 10th anniversary available in the discography here.
(Many thanks to Amra for her assistance with this article)