How 5 Seconds Of Summer beat Dua Lipa to No.1

How 5 Seconds Of Summer beat Dua Lipa to No.1

When 5 Seconds Of Summer started the chart week ahead of Dua Lipa, it was perhaps assumed that Warner Records’ pop sensation would catch up. 

But despite strong streaming numbers, Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia lost out to the 5SOS album Calm by 551 copies. The Australian group’s fourth long-player (and first for Polydor) held on to take No.1 with 34,941 sales, all but 3,739 from paid purchases.

"To debut No.1 in the UK, ahead of the biggest female artist in the country, is a remarkable achievement for an international band and testament to how hard they’ve worked over the past nine years, the brilliant job Polydor have done and the strength of the band's fanbase," said Benjamin Evans at Modest, who manage 5SOS. "This band deserve all the success they get. They never stop working. If it wasn’t for a shipping error in the US we’d be looking at No. 1 in the UK, Australia and the US which is quite phenomenal."

While Dua Lipa created plenty of buzz for her well-received sophomore album, the result wasn’t entirely surprising. 5SOS had reached the summit before with 2015’s Sounds Good Feels Good, which opened with 42,459 sales. However, the first week tally was down to 16,040 for their previous album, 2018’s Youngblood. 

So how did 5SOS increase week one sales and beat Dua Lipa to No.1 (a feat she may belatedly achieve this week)? Here, Polydor director of marketing Lucy Dann opens up about the campaign…

It was a close chart battle - how did you achieve this No.1 for 5SOS?

“We are thrilled with the result – the headline of how we achieved this is that it takes an army. We have a very smart team that have worked closely together for a while. We have had recent chart successes – that has been an education in the past year – and we take learnings from each time, we know what we need to do. Every single person plays a pivotal role and we all want success for one another. Playing for the team means everyone moves together. We achieve it with smart and nimble ideas – working fast – but have been planning and prepping for a while and gaining insight in to the 5SOS fanbase and understanding what they will respond to proved invaluable long term." 

It's obviously a challenging time - how did you have to transform the campaign in partnership with band and management?

“Firstly, I will say that the band and management at Modest have been amazing partners throughout, trusting us and approving ideas and adapting quickly when we have needed to – it has been very collaborative. We have had to be very nimble and fast – even more so than usual – and try some things that were new and perhaps even risky. Communication was more important than ever, because we can’t all get together for actual planning. We didn’t have any traditional promotion like a TV moment or radio sessions, and no band in the market. Those traditional drivers or ‘moments’ turned into a more day-to-day strategy of smaller wins across influencer, ECRM, product offerings, social media and targeted spend.” 

There were a lot of physical sales – are you confident fans have secured their D2C orders?

“The fans are the most important part of this and we are confident we have delivered there. We know how valuable the customer relationship is and we aim to communicate with them if there was any issue with the order. Like anything we do it is not failsafe, but we aim to make sure every move is considered with a customer-facing attitude.”

Does the results show that physical retailers can still deliver for acts with a fanbase like 5SOS?

“I think it shows that when the product is the right offering for the fanbase you are speaking to then it can sell well. We know the physical market has changed a lot in the past 10 years or so, but quality items paired with more personal band elements sell, and vinyl remains buoyant. We are very fortunate to be working with a band who have worked hard and developed their own fanbase over many years, as without that we are nowhere. It’s then up to us to create compelling products and marketing strategies with all our partners to ensure we are giving fans something they want.”

How can you maintain the campaign amid the pandemic?

“Current radio consumption is strong, and streaming remains healthy. This is the real start of the campaign now with the stand out record Wildflower, which is track of the week on Radio 1. Media consumption habits are changing week to week and we are trying to read the data to keep informed as to how things will affect records and then get ahead. We still have the video to come and many more places to go across our partners. It’s not an easy thing to do as it’s unprecedented territory, but we hope that music and entertainment can provide some relief in challenging times – and fresh assets and engaging content moving forward is exactly how we will keep this moving.”

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