Lady Gaga Is Using a Pink Branded Jockstrap to Merchandise-Bundle Her Way to a No. 1 Album
By this point, no one should be surprised that Lady Gaga is still getting creative and a little racy with her merchandise tie-ins. As she gets ready to release her new album “Chromatica” on May 29, she’s going the route of many artists before her by introducing a merch tie-in to increase her chances of debuting at No. 1.
Where she’s diverged from the pack is the product itself. In true Gaga fashion, she’s pairing her new album with pink underwear. A jockstrap and a thong, to be specific.
Right now, fans and fashionistas can buy the official Chromatica jockstrap for $30 or the thong for $20. Both purchases come with a digital download of the album.
— Out Magazine (@outmagazine) May 11, 2020
This is that strategy we outlined a while ago, where artists and their labels are aware that people aren’t just buying albums like they used to. They are, however, buying merchandise, so if they can throw in the download as a bundle, it counts as an album purchase. And, right now, when no one is going to concerts, people are likely buying the merchandise they can’t get at the venue online instead.
It’s also important to note that Gaga isn’t only selling underwear to promote the album. There’s a wide variety of T-shirts on the site, along with sweatpants, hats, socks, a bandana—actually, hang on. She is really going nuts with this. Let’s break this down with a full list.
- Pink jockstrap
- Pink thong
- Eight short-sleeve T-shirt designs
- Two long-sleeve T-shirt designs
- A hoodie
- Crewneck sweatshirt
- Two sweatpants designs
- Briefs (if jockstraps or thongs aren’t your thing but you still want to wear underwear sporting the new album name)
- Two hats
- Three sock designs
- A bandana
- A camp-style mug
- A keychain
- A tote bag
- A circular pillow
- A pillow shaped like the album name typeface
Every single one of those purchases comes with a digital download of the album, thereby making every single merchandise purchase also a purchase of the album. Billboard tweaked the rules for landing on the charts, but it still helps pad album sales numbers.
Say what you want about Lady Gaga and her choice to lead with pink underwear in her album’s marketing, but she is no dummy when it comes to business.
Her entire brand is built on showmanship and creativity and doing things differently, so obviously that resonates with her fans. I can 100 percent see these items selling out quickly, and then probably popping up on resale sites for a while after this. It’s also genius marketing because, well, it’s a conversation piece. People are a lot more likely to talk about your new album if you pair it with flashy underwear. And, of course, the internet is talking about it.
It's also a good appeal to her LGBTQ+ fanbase, for whom the jockstrap is sort of a symbolic representation of its history, as W Magazine's Kyle Munzenrieder wrote:
The humble jockstrap has existed since around 1891, but has always been a bit taboo and, outside of locker rooms, hardly a mainstream undergarment. Queer culture, however, has a long history of holding up the garment as a thing of sex appeal dating back to at least the days of Tom of Finland and Peter Berlin. Even as brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger produce their own, they still occupy a special corner of the underwear drawer.The humble jockstrap has existed since around 1891, but has always been a bit taboo and, outside of locker rooms, hardly a mainstream undergarment. Queer culture, however, has a long history of holding up the garment as a thing of sex appeal dating back to at least the days of Tom of Finland and Peter Berlin. Even as brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger produce their own, they still occupy a special corner of the underwear drawer.
Oh, and yeah, you can also still just buy the album itself on vinyl, CD, cassette or digital. But those don’t come with pink underwear. So, what even is the point?