by Amelia O’Shea and Laura Sinclair
An exclusive insight into DawBell’s Music Week Award 2017 nomination - The Return of Craig David.
"The amazing resurrection of Craig David", "The Comeback King", "How Craig David got cool again'. These are just some of the headlines that ran over the past year when working on the Craig David album campaign.
At DawBell, we are all about enhancing an artist's reputation and relevance. With Craig David however, we had a number of challenges from the outset. Prior to 2016 a lot of media in the UK had been notoriously unkind about the multi-platinum selling artist. In a post-Bo Selecta world, we had to change the narrative in the press and ultimately public perception.
Craig's TS5 live shows were a key tool in helping us turn this around. Starting out as a pre-party in Craig's Miami home, the singer had started taking the set on the road, starting with the 350 capacity venue, Oslo in Hackney. His TS5 performance showcased Craig's incredible skills as a DJ, MC and singer and provided the perfect opportunity to remind press what a talent he is.
Notting Hill Carnival was a turning point, where DawBell organised it for Craig to share the stage of one of our other clients Shy FX. DawBell co-ordinated media around the ‘Party on the Moon’ stage, ensuring tastemakers were in attendance to witness the new, rejuvenated Craig David. That day Craig shut the stage down, causing a huge surge at the Sound System, and became the story of the day.
Now the wheels were in motion, it was key to capitalise on this new interest in Craig by enlisting support from select publications. In order to make Craig relevant, it was imperative that we validated his return through influencers, ensuring the narrative was lead from a cool and credible voice. Early on, we worked with titles including Complex, Noisey, i-D and Dazed - offering interview time and exclusive content.
Craig’s new music was the real focus of the campaign. It would have been too easy to simply stereotype Craig as a nostalgia act, which media initially did. In all interviews, new music was to be the focus. We worked foremost with music titles as well as youth publications including UniLad and SBTV to introduce Craig to a new, younger audience.
Amplifying good news at every opportunity - such as when his single was climbing the chart, or one of his videos was going viral, we kept the press informed so that they were on the journey with him. Before long Craig’s rise became the story itself, with many titles running stories about ‘Why We All Love Craig David Again’.
Maximising every moment, we secured features in all four broadsheet newspapers, including the cover of The Guardian - all titles that had been historically pessimistic were now showing support. NME featured Craig for the first time in 16 years, and other features included the cover of Notion magazine and lead features in GQ and Shortlist.
Press over the campaign totalled over 300 print and 400 online placed pieces, with an estimated reach of over 31 billion - that is over four times the world’s population. We achieved a No.1 album that went Gold and Craig has since gone on to win a MOBO, a BRIT nomination as well as announcing a huge 18-date arena tour - a different world from the 350 capacity venue in Oslo almost two years ago!
Craig was back and better than ever!
Craig David - “Thank you so much for every bit of press you’ve put together that has allowed me to be heard beautifully and naturally.
You are the best… Period.”
Colin Lester, Chairman of JEM Music Group and Craig’s manager - ”DawBell have been nothing short of magnificent. What looked like an effortless and easy campaign, was the result of an extremely complex and difficult brief, however, they kept the artist’s integrity at the top of the list throughout, allowing the public to see who the real Craig David is”.
Alice Beal, Label Manager, Insanity Records - “Laura and Amelia's ability to manage Craig’s appeal across all elements of the press - from a Fabulous cover, to video premiers on Dazed, and taking GQ on a trip to Ibiza and Malaga(!) has been essential in us achieving the mainstream success we have. They have worked with care and sensitivity, mindful of Craig’s history, and have been crucial in reigniting the public’s love for Craig. Not only have they been vital in our success as a team, they have also been a pleasure to work alongside.”