(Fast Company) — As Jay’s protégé’s album dropped this week (and leaked much earlier on the Web), Jay himself was revealing what he’d long had in store for the publishing world: a game-changing marketing plan for his autobiography, Decoded, itself a groundbreaking book. Beyond a mere collection of stories–which many readers would find plenty tantilizing–Decoded is also a rap Rosetta Stone. Listeners can literally decode Jay’s lyrics on 11 studio albums to unlock new details about the 40-year-old’s personal history. The marketing for the book took the idea further, mashing up old-school billboard advertising, new-school social media, mobile apps, and more for an interactive game that let players unlock pages of the book and enter to win concert tickets and memorabilia. Jay’s corporate partners, meanwhile, scored a fortune in buzz.
Jay initially hooked up with the creative agency Droga5, who conceived, created, implemented, produced, and delivered the campaign with the help of Microsoft search engine Bing. Droga5 slapped all 320 pages of Decoded in various blown-up sizes on some unexpected surfaces: a rooftop in New Orleans, a pool bottom in Miami (above), cheeseburger wrappers in New York City, a pool table in Jay’s 40/40 Club, and many more.
Reading became a scavenger hunt.Fans could log on to bing.com/jay-z between Oct. 18 and Nov. 20–last Saturday–and follow clues to Bing Maps locations and real life places where text from the book was blown up bigger than life or layered onto a guitar, onto records in jukeboxes, or onto a 1980s Cadillac parked in front of a Run-DMC mural in Queens. The most dedicated followers could read the whole book for free weeks before it came out. Plus, anyone who unlocked a page online or in person (by texting a code located on the physical page) was entered to win that page signed by Jay-Z or tickets to a Jay-Z/Coldplay New Year’s Eve concert in Las Vegas.