I recently stated my admiration for Frank Ocean in coming out in a hip-hop community that is still touchy about the subject. And while I still commend him, the release of his latest album is a little too conveniently timed for me to not do a double take at the situation.
Here are the facts: Frank Ocean’s latest album, channel ORANGE was released a week early. This comes a week after his confession of his first love which happened to be same-sex. With this revelation he made waves in the media, and it seems he surfed them right to the #1 spot on iTunes with the release of his album .
This wouldn’t be the first time that gay or gay friendly centric tactics have been used to push album sales. Artists like Madonna, Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj go to an extreme to make sure they are in good with “the gays”.
And this may not even be the first time that “coming out” in particular has been a strategic marketing tactic. Ricky Martin came out in March 2011 and subsequently released his autobiography in May of the same year. It can be argued that he had no choice but to come out, since that is essentially what the autobiography is about, but reality is Ricky Martin had years to come out, but conveniently came out prior to the release of his autobiography.
So… did Frank Ocean play his cards at the right time? When asked if Ocean’s “coming out” affected the album’s marketing plan, Def Jam’s president, Joie Manda, told EW:
”Absolutely not. You have to understand that Frank’s letter last week was in NO WAY intended to impact the marketing of this record. Like all things with Frank, it was a carefully measured, very personal decision.”
So, what’s the big deal if he did strategically plan his coming out?
The issue with the timing of the situation is that if it is in fact a strategic move by Frank Ocean, or his marketing team, it ruins the authenticity of this brave confession and taints the credibility of Frank Ocean’s current open and honest brand image.
I would love to think that certain things are off limits towards promotional tactics, but reality is, in these days, marriage, pregnancy and/or divorce can be used as publicity tools. So why should it surprise anyone that an confession of a sexual preference would be a promotional tool?
Don’t get me wrong, I still commend Frank Ocean for being brave enough to come out, but the timing of it all takes quite a bit away from it. Regardless, his album is great, and is set to go platinum, because of the overwhelming amount of support he’s received from many major artist, the waves he was making in the industry before his announcement and his new found freedom of expression.