After spending a full 12 months away from the spotlight no fan had heard anything from Ed Sheeran. No new music, not even a tweet.

The Brief

The challenge from Atlantic Records was to reignite his fanbase ahead of the launch of his third album – Divide.


The idea was to fuel fan fervour by distributing hints of Ed’s new tracks which were deliberately hard to share, and difficult to discover. This is counter to conventional wisdom, and people’s expectations that they can listen to what they want, when and where they want it. To promote all tracks on the album we’d need to understand fan tastes, and carry out our approach by tailoring our copy to listeners preferences.


We started by selecting channels that offered us the highest sound-on capabilities. In a media first Atlantic Records used a bespoke filter to release a fully unbranded filter containing the next 30 seconds of Shape of You, the track identified to resonate most with the Snapchat audience.

Through YouTube we segmented those that had previously watched Ed Sheeran’s videos into distinct tribes based on the style of Ed’s music they liked best and how recently they had engaged with his tracks. Using YouTube video formats, including 6” bumpers, 10” pre-rolls and extended 30” skippables we set about speaking to these audiences discreetly to build buzz and intrigue.

The Results

No artist has ever achieved this scale of sales success before or since.
In its week of launch, 16 of the top 20 singles in the singles chart were Ed Sheeran tracks.
Shape of You was the most streamed track on Spotify in 2017, both globally and in the UK.
The album Divide became the fastest selling album by a male artist of ALL time.
It achieved 672,000 sales in 7 days.
The album sold more in its first week than all of the official albums chart top 500 albums combined.
It went double platinum in just one week.

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