'A brilliant album that shows how special Olivia Rodrigo is': Inside the huge No.1 campaign for Guts

'A brilliant album that shows how special Olivia Rodrigo is': Inside the huge No.1 campaign for Guts

Olivia Rodrigo is No.1 in the UK albums chart with new release Guts outselling the rest of the Top 10 combined. 

The US star has been there before, of course, with 2021 debut LP Sour, which spent five weeks at the summit. 

Opening with sales of 60,272, Guts has outperformed the opening week for Rodrigo’s debut. It’s also secured the most weekly streams for any album so far in 2023 – 28,165 equivalent album sales.

With three singles impacting the current Top 10, including former No.1 Vampire, there are early signs that Guts could have the streaming momentum of its predecessor. The LP has also made its mark with 30,879 physical sales in week one, and it looks likely to be a big seller throughout Q4, thanks in part to the different bonus tracks on vinyl variants.

The performance of the album helped Polydor to top the weekly market shares total market for both All Albums (11%) and Artist Albums (11.1%). Guts is the label’s sixth No.1 album so far this year. 

There’s also been a boost to the consumption of Sour, which returns to the Top 10 for the first time since last summer.

Here, Ali Tant, head of marketing at Polydor, discusses the huge opening week for Guts, navigating the follow-up campaign to a massive debut LP and the UK adoration for Olivia Rodrigo…

Guts has outsold Olivia Rodrigo’s debut, which itself made a huge impact in week one following the success of Drivers License and Good 4 U. How did you achieve that growth – and manage to outsell the rest of the Top 10? 

“Yes, but it’s also testament to how she’s built and grown her own audience. Sour has done over 750,000 combined units in the UK and, short of one week, has been a mainstay in the Top 40 for over two years since release (and is back in the Top 10 this week too!). Whilst I wouldn’t say Sour took us by surprise because she’d had two massive No.1s leading into that album, I certainly feel Guts had a very solid rollout and fantastic suite of products. 

“More to the point, Guts is a quite brilliant album that shows just how special Olivia is. The quality of the album really shone through, and throughout release week we’ve already seen tracks including The Grudge, Love Is Embarrassing and the new single Get Him Back! becoming fan favourites.”

Streaming was so strong for Sour and Guts had a huge opening on DSPs too, how will you help the record maintain that consistent consumption like the debut?  

“The DSP support on this campaign has been fantastic really from all partners. When we ran the first day Spotify UK numbers on Guts to see that it had outperformed the opening day of Sour, we knew how strongly this album was connecting to her fans, especially as that opening day of Sour included the one million-plus streams of Good 4 U.

“The album streams this week have been incredible, this is the biggest SEA number this year. Seeing the reaction to songs like Get Him Back!, The Grudge, Ballad Of A Homeschooled Girl and Love Is Embarrassing gives me nothing but confidence that this album is going to stick around.”

How did you reactivate the debut in the run-up to the new album?

“It’s never gone anywhere, like I said the album has stuck in the Top 40 since release. We’ve used anniversary moments to boost consumption since the release of Sour – vinyl drops on the anniversary of Sour drove a 30% sales increase. But the moment when she came back with Vampire was the biggest driver for Sour, driving a 47% consumption increase, and on the whole, has maintained that level since.”

The physical sale for Guts was strong, how did fans respond to the vinyl options? How important was Olivia Rodrigo’s support including signed art cards and promoting the coloured formats in terms of the pre-sale? 

“Our friends at Geffen pulled off some smart formatting, and as ever Polydor worked closely with them on maximising the bundling options for the album to ensure fans had the best selection. I’ve always been a fan of rewarding the super fans with additional music that isn’t part of the standard package, and fans who bought the vinyl were rewarded with secret bonus tracks not available anywhere else.  

“In terms of signed [vinyl], Olivia is very ambitious and worked with us to give us enough signed pieces to drive the campaign. We’re grateful to her and the team for many things, inclusive of that.”

Guts has had strong reviews – how did that help with a sophomore campaign for an artist who had early success in the UK?

“Of course it helps, it reiterates how big an achievement this album is. One of the hardest things is to follow up a huge debut album. Guts shows she’s taking Gen Z on a journey with her, and will continue to. As The Line Of Best Fit said so well, ‘Guts takes the best things about Rodrigo’s past work, the emotional potency, the confessional lyricism, the pivots into alt-rock – and cranks it up.’”

Seeing the reaction gives me nothing but confidence that this album is going to stick around

Ali Tant

Vampire was held off top spot initially but has since claimed the No.1. What’s behind its enduring appeal, and has it proved to be the perfect launch single? 

“It’s a brilliant song. It’s got so many layers to it. Olivia has a knack for combining brilliant melody with lyrics that create conversation and intrigue. Now on its 11th Week in the Top 10, Vampire is Olivia’s longest lasting Top 10 here and I can see why!”

Bad Idea Right? has reached a new peak – what are the ambitions for this single now the album is out, are you targeting a fourth No.1 single?

“Maybe, though I think there are others on the album that could easily become that fourth No.1 single. Get Him Back! is huge. The album isn’t short of hit songs!”

How will you respond to the week’s streaming impact in terms of focusing on securing another UK hit? What’s radio’s reaction been to the album given the range of options for playlisting? 

“There will always be an element of taking the lead from our partners at Geffen/Interscope but we’ve both seen similar trends across the album. All American Bitch opened huge as people leaped straight in to hear the album, but as the days have gone on this past week we’ve seen Get Him Back!, The Grudge and Ballad Of A Homeschooled Girl (which became the first album track to kick off on TikTok) cement themselves as fan favourites.” 

What’s been the reaction to the lyrical harder edge and intensity of All American Bitch, which Olivia Rodrigo has identified as a personal favourite?

“One of the most special things about Olivia is her lyricism. She’s so sharp and clever with her writing. It’s such a great opener for the album. It’s one of the songs she talks about in depth in her Interview Magazine piece with Phoebe Bridgers about the song’s inspiration from the Joan Didion book The White Album.” 

UK shows are confirmed for May 2024 including dates at The O2. What do you expect the reaction to be when those gigs take place?

“Chaos, tears, joy, a lot of ticket sales and one hell of a show.”

Click here to read our 2021 cover feature with Olivia Rodrigo.


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