Hank Williams Jr.’s Fox / ESPN Song – Not a Mistake

Hank Williams, Jr. recently turned what seemed like a marketing mistake into a marketing success story. And in true Hank Williams, Jr. fashion he did it by recording and giving away, what I call, his “Fox/ESPN” song (aka Keep the Change).  In the end, you can decide whether the unfortunate incident was a mistake or not.

After using the word Hitler on a Fox morning TV program, ESPN pulled Hank’s Monday Night Football theme song from their broadcast. In what started as a typical morning for the super country star, a little politically incorrect remark turned his world upside down in a matter of hours. Fortunately, today’s technology gave Hank an opportunity to capitalize on the moment.

Unbeknownst to Hank Williams, Jr. this started a firestorm of letters, tweets, emails, Facebook updates and phone calls all with his name at center stage. Without retreating into seclusion to avoid the brouhaha, Hank severed ties with ESPN and headed to the recording studio.

What came next is brilliant.

A few days after the event when the irons were still hot and the topic still being discussed, Hank offered this new Fox/ESPN song called “Keep the Change” free for open download on his website – available only to those willing to opt-in with email.  At the same time he booked appearances at several TV shows like The View, the Joy Behar Show and others reciting the lyrics to the song and announcing its availability on the site.

Within the first 24 hours, the Hank Jr. site saw over 120,000 downloads of the song – meaning 120,000 new e-mail addresses in his database ALL of which are people interested enough to go download one of his tunes. Not bad for a guy whose first stint on stage was at 8 years old at the behest of his father – in 1958.

Whether Hank’s team was ready for such a media blitz or not is immaterial. Celebrities are often in the news at the center of controversy followed by appearances on many a talk show. But when was the last time you saw a celebrity not only capitalize on the event – but collect contact information from all the supporting, interested parties in the meantime?

Conan O’Brien went on tour after getting fired from NBC doing stand-up comedy nationwide. He was able to amass a ton of Facebook and Twitter followers – but was he able to capture the names of those people himself? Charlie Sheen was also the center of a media storm recently but followed it up ONLY by doing a few stand-up gigs and news shows.

What Hank Williams, Jr. has done with his “Fox / ESPN” song is nothing less than brilliant. By the time the noise dies down, he’ll have amassed a half a million names of people who are just about to learn that Hank’s music is cool and it’s for sale.