The Advertising Behind “The Weeknd”

The Weeknd has grown to be quite famous worldwide, with his new album, Starboy, breaking multiple records and topping charts. Learn more about his journey and how he became so successful with minimal advertising.


With “Starboy” becoming number 1 on charts in over 80 countries in less than 24 hours, it is safe to say that The Weeknd is back with another album with at least three songs on your playlist.  Abel Tesafey has won a total of 42 awards from 137 nominations – all in a span of 6 years. But how did Tesafey develop a strong personal brand in a hit-or-miss industry? Rather than focusing on traditional forms of advertising, the Weeknd used his personal brand strategically to grow his fan base astronomically.  It might actually shock you that the Weeknd’s first daytime appearance was only a few days ago on the Ellen Degeneres show.


“You mean ‘The Weekend’?”

When you first heard of The Weeknd, you probably spelt his stage name incorrectly…with the correct spelling of the word itself. At the beginning of his career in 2010, he posted tracks from his mix tapes without revealing his identity. On Reddit, he revealed that his stage name was created after running away from home with a friend one weekend once he dropped out of high school.  Combined with his dark and mysterious lyricism, fans were intrigued by The Weeknd’s personality and his smooth R&B vocals.


The Iconic Hair

The Weeknd was able to differentiate himself from other artists with not only his voice, but with his hairstyle as well.  Tesafey believed that if “[he] cut his hair, [he’d] look like everyone else. And that [was] just so boring to [him]”. His hair became a major part of his personal brand and has trended on Twitter and on Facebook a few times throughout his career.   Needless to say, his fans were quite shocked when the “Starboy” cover was unveiled.


He Declines Most of his Interviews

It is rare for The Weeknd to answer personal questions that could be used as bait on the cover of magazines. During his breakthrough, the Weeknd refused to meet with interviewers and would only give superficial responses via Twitter. Tesafey even admitted that his career is “going to be so long because I haven’t given people everything”.


An R&B Icon from Toronto

Regardless of where he is, Tesafey will always be a boy from Scarborough chasing after his dreams while overcoming obstacles alongside his immigrant mother. This year, he donated $50,000 towards an Ethiopic Studies program at the University of Toronto – a clear indicator that you can take a boy out of Toronto, but you can’t take the Toronto out of a boy.


By Vaisnavy Sivayoganathan


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