MARCH 2012: POST-MORTEM
Because of the scope of the March timeline and the number of posts, I know it can be a little arduous to muscle through. I wanted to make a post to tie the four separate weeks and posts together to make it easier to digest. If this was a college or uni course, this would be the review before final exams.
These are the 7 things I believe are the most important lessons or patterns to observe and take away from March 2012.
- Eleanor’s Staged Twitter Welcome. Eleanor had an active Twitter account for 7 weeks before she began to tweet fans, One Direction update accounts, her own update accounts and members of Louis’ family and friends. These first tweets just-so-happened to coincide exactly with 1) big One Direction promotional events in which the online fandom would be most active and 2) her very public trip to New York City during Louis’ one week off. In fact, Danielle, her own cousin, Dan, Jay’s best friend, Jay’s best friend’s son, and Louis himself all literally validated Eleanor’s account and welcomed Eleanor to Twitter in the 24 hours leading up to her arrival in New York. This was also just days before the sales numbers for the U.S. debut of Up All Night were announced and in the midst of the announcement and subsequent leak of the American leg of the Up All Night Tour scheduled for May-June. When the Fall UK promo campaign is taken into consideration with this series of coinciding events, it becomes glaringly obvious to what extent Eleanor’s presence was used as a layer of the marketing strategy as the One Direction juggernaut truly began to take shape.
- Louis & Harry largely MIA their off week. It is a little difficult to argue this was as intentional as it seems to be in their off times in the last 2 years. I am not trying to argue they spent the entire week together, either. However, they were both around the hotel enough to know Liam’s gym schedule in the evenings, and Louis himself lied about when and where he was when he found out they went number 1 in America. That, in and of itself, begs the question where was Louis really when they found out? Perhaps he, too, rented a bicycle with Harry to go sightseeing in New York, an activity Harry did at least twice during the week.
- 4 different & distinct weeks. When viewed in order and in retrospect, March 2012 can be seen as the first 2 years of One Direction’s PR strategy condensed into 31 days. The first week was all promo, touring and travel. The interviews were relatively unscripted and the responses much more organic. The second week in March was spent in New York City laying the ground work for their American takeover with high profile promotional events where the boys had to act professional, but Harry and Louis were still having fun toeing the party line. The third week was the more subtle marketing campaign with tour dates leaked and a relatively heavily-pushed Elounor narrative that was the first of its kind at this point. The first attempt at a denial took place in Dallas, an event that became a lightning rod in the fandom for their iconic behavior during the performance, in interviews and at the meet & greet with fans. The fourth week was a week that was much more like what we have grown accustomed to in 3 years since it. Eleanor rushed back to the States unexpectedly as the events of the 3 previous weeks began to snowball as they were released in online videos. Louis and Eleanor were papped at the Grove together, and Eleanor attended the Kid’s Choice Awards, their most important promotional event to date, with Jay, Dan and Danielle. Fans began to divide online into the 2 camps we know today: Larry shippers and Elounor shippers.
- Louis’ Meet & Greet behavior. The progression of Louis’ behavior in meet & greets as the weeks in March wore on is a fascinating thing to watch. He went from happy and open with fans in the first 10 days to wary and finally openly disdainful of some (girl dressed as a carrot in Minneapolis). This coincides exactly with Eleanor’s increasing Twitter presence, which led many fans to ask Louis about her and give him gifts to give to her, something I don’t think Louis appreciated, perhaps especially in front of Harry.
- Deliberate Meet & Greet Separation. Harry and Louis were deliberately separated at several meet & greets throughout the month of March. The boys appeared to have assigned seating in several of the instances, and went so far as to point out if Harry and/or Louis sat in the “wrong” seat and had to be moved. Harry tried to get around this new seating arrangement at one meet & greet by sitting next to Louis at the front of the table instead of the end, perhaps hoping a steady stream of people would keep Louis and himself occupied (it didn’t). Despite the attempts to separate them in meet & greet situations, Harry and Louis continued to openly talk across the other boys, show each other gifts from fans and even stand next to each other during breaks.
- New Harry Narrative. Harry’s womanizer image began to take shape in the American press after the Bring 1D to Me event in Dallas. This was mere days after the album went unexpectedly number 1 in America and in the week leading up to the Kid’s Choice Awards on Nickelodeon. While Harry’s womanizer status was being solidified, Louis was paraded around L.A. with Eleanor, who flew back unexpectedly, to get her picture taken with Louis and walk to the Kid’s Choice Awards with Louis’ family.
- Battle Lines are Drawn. In essence, March was all about boundaries. Their team trying to set them, Harry and Louis pushing them and pushing them until the consequences began to catch up to them. The battle lines that were drawn by both sides, however, were clearly established and remained in place until just recently. Perhaps we are finally in unchartered territory.