How P!nk Landed Her Ninth Top 10 Album On the Billboard 200
RCA kicked off 2023 on a hot streak — this week, SZA’s album S.O.S. spent its 10th week on the Billboard 200, dominating the early part of the year (and she was also named Woman of the Year at Billboard’s Women in Music event this week as well). And this week RCA also landed a double feat atop the charts as P!nk’s latest album, Trustfall, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, with the majority of its first-week units coming from sales.
It’s the ninth top 10 album of P!nk’s career, and her first since 2019’s Hurts 2B Human, while the single “Never Gonna Not Dance Again” became the artist’s 30th Pop Airplay hit and 35th entry on the Hot 100, milestone marks for a decorated career. And the continued success of P!nk and her latest project help earn RCA Records’ senior vp/head of marketing Val Pensa the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week.
Here, Pensa discusses the marketing effort behind the latest P!nk album, the importance of setting up a worldwide campaign for an artist with such a global reach and fan base, and her long history of working with the artist, which stretches back years. “I learned very early on that P!nk is a fierce competitor who is willing to take risks,” Pensa says. “She is always open to evolving and growing based on the ever-changing marketplace and has a hunger to learn. I often joke that she could teach a masterclass in how to be a global superstar, but all jokes aside, she is one of the smartest, hardest-working, businesswomen out there and that shows in everything she does.”
This week, P!nk’s Trustfall debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, her ninth top 10 album on the chart. What key decision did you make to help make that happen?
P!nk is a global superstar, so one of the key elements in her campaign is always to make sure that the album is set up properly in every single market around the world to leverage the best of the best in terms of global opportunities and exposure. We have an amazing partner in Roger Davies, who manages P!nk, and puts in a great deal of work to help us make sure that all partners around the world have access to music, understand P!nk’s vision and to ensure we have the right activations in place to support the music. This is a project that every single department at RCA touches, and my job, along with that of my marketing partner in crime on this project, Aaron Stern, is to work to ensure that timelines, assets and vision are communicated to the team at large to allow everyone to deliver top-notch plans within their respective fields.
This is her first album since 2019. How did you approach the marketing campaign for this album?
We had the exciting task of creating a well-rounded campaign that incorporated traditional media, digital activations, in-person activations and a lot of fan-focused events. We really honed in on creating a campaign that would reach P!nk’s massive audience and then from there developed a marketing strategy that would engage and bring in new fans. Shortform content is a sweet spot for P!nk and we had a lot of fun getting creative in that space. Aaron and I worked with the team at large to develop ideas around the “Never Gonna Not Dance Again” music video which lead to us creating the hotline and infomercial for Vicious Bitches Chipses, which was a fun companion piece for the music video and generated additional excitement upon launch.
One of P!nk’s most notable and memorable qualities is her ability to move people through her songwriting and vocal performances. Alex John, who spearhead’s P!nk’s press here, crafted an incredible campaign that allowed P!nk to touch viewers through traditional television performances and interviews, which in addition to reaching her core audience, also served as the catalyst for additional conversation around the album.
Her single “Never Gonna Not Dance Again” also became her 30th Pop Airplay chart entry and 35th song to reach the Hot 100. How big is radio to the full campaign and rollout?
Radio has historically always been super supportive of P!nk and is a major way for us to reach her audience around the world. The RCA radio team put together an incredible radio strategy to support this campaign. We always engage with radio early on; in this case the radio programmers were among the first to get to hear the album — we hosted a playback at our RCA Studio space and P!nk got the opportunity to see the programmers in person and share her vision for the album and her influences and meaning behind her songs with them directly.
This album also debuted with 59,000 of its 74,500 units coming from sales. In a streaming-dominant business, how do you still make sure that record sales are prioritized in a campaign?
For a campaign like this we spend a lot of time thinking about who the audience is and how to reach them and give them what they want. In this case, we had every physical configuration on a global scale that was possible and put a long pre-order window into place that allowed us to really double down on marketing the album date, the creative and the configurations with all the various retail partners. The support has been incredible, which speaks to the long-standing relationships that P!nk has made across the industry throughout her career.
You’ve worked with P!nk for years. What have you learned over that period working with her that you applied to the rollout of this album?
I learned very early on that P!nk is a fierce competitor who is willing to take risks. She is always open to evolving and growing based on the ever-changing marketplace and has a hunger to learn. I often joke that she could teach a masterclass in how to be a global superstar, but all jokes aside, she is one of the smartest, hardest-working, businesswomen out there and that shows in everything she does. As it relates to our marketing approach in the rollout, we worked to present a plan where P!nk is undeniably everywhere, knowing full well that she will always bring her A game and deliver.
You’ve been head of marketing at RCA for around 18 months now. What is your marketing philosophy for the label? Are there any good examples you can point to that illustrate that?
The marketing team constantly hears me talking about “the art of the campaign.” Every song, every album, every artist deserves a fully thought-out campaign that is targeted to support both the artists’ vision and tailored to reach their audience. One of the best examples of that is Doja Cat’s Planet Her campaign that helped us to keep the album in the top 10 well over a year after album release.
Previous Executive of the Week: Lallie Jones of 300 Entertainment
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