Merchandise of Surrender
Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2023-03-31)
One of our favourite areas here at U2Songs is the oddball merchandise that comes with each release, and every tour. From the T-shirts, to the shot glasses, the bolo ties, and the poker chips, we’ve been collecting it for years. This time out there has been less exotic promotional materials. Most have been paper goods. Gone are the days of advent calendars and chocolate bars I guess. But we wanted to have a look through at some of the material which has been released to support the new Songs of Surrender album below. These are items intended to be given away, or sold in relation to the album, and does not include the wealth of material produced for in-store displays.
IMAGES: Pre-sale Gifts from Japan: Poster
In Japan, different companies are supplied with different promotional items to give away with purchase of the album. These retail bonuses are supplied to different retailers by Universal Music, to entice people to pre-order the album. For this most recent album, the most common item offered was a B2-sized poster (50 × 70cm) which was offered by Universal Music when buying online, as well as from CD Japan, HMV, and other retailers. The poster features the album cover, with the title above the images, and the “Re-Imagined” tag below. It is marked not for sale in the bottom left corner, and has the Universal logo in the bottom right corner.
IMAGES: Tower Sticker and Amazon Mega Jacket
In Japan, Amazon typically offers what they call a “mega jacket” when pre-ordering. For Songs of Surrender a “mega jacket” was offered, which features the artwork of the album at a larger size, with a white border. On the border is the “not for sale” and the Universal logo. This is not a booklet, but is just a 24cm-square image featuring the art. Like other offers, these were available while supplies lasted and did not last long. Amazon typically will allow international purchases. In this case they did not. The other pre-sale offer was from Tower Records, which offered a 12cm-square sticker with the album cover for a giveaway.
IMAGES: Tower Records Shibuya Postcard (Courtesy of eBay Listing)
On the day of release, Tower Records in Shibuya celebrated the release of the album, including a giant version of the artwork in store. There was a dedicated U2 ‘art exhibition’, a U2 quiz which allowed you to win a digital image. Tower Records stickers were given away at the event, and there was a special postcard made available for the first people buying the album on that day. The postcard featured the album cover, and the “Re-imagined” tag to the right. The back was left blank.
IMAGES: Postcard set from The Netherlands
Japan wasn’t the only location with postcards. In The Netherlands, some independent record shops also had postcards to giveaway with the purchase of the album. These were given out to early purchasers of the album in any format. The set included four postcards, one for each band member, featuring the images used on the front cover. On the back of the postcard, each listed the ten tracks chosen for that band member’s “album” in the boxed set. The four postcards were distributed in a folding envelope printed with the album logo on one side, and the album cover on the other. In the stamp area of each postcard? The image of the band member from the front of the card is repeated.
IMAGES: Posters and Prints in the UK (Left)
Paper items were also available on the day of release in the UK. Independent record shops had a poster available, very similar to what was offered in Japan. The poster featured the album cover, with titles above the cover, and the “Re-imagined” tag below the cover. These had the Island Records logo in the bottom right corner, and were 50cm x 70cm in size. A special print was also given out which was 30cm-square, and similar in size to an album. You can see one in the bottom right above below the box set in a photo courtesy of Alan Ivory, with the poster to the left. (Thanks Alan!) In the USA a poster was also offered to those buying the album in independent shops while supplies lasted. The design was similar to the UK and Japan designs, except for the Interscope logo in the bottom right hand corner. The poster in the USA was smaller in size however, approximately 27cm x 43cm in size.
IMAGES: Front of T-Shirt One / Tote Bag / Front and Back of T-Shirt Two (40 Songs, 40 Cities)
One of the big promotional events for this album release was the “40 songs, 40 cities“ promotion. Universal records had lyrics from the album displayed in forty cities around the world. They were displayed on electronic billboards, painted on the sides of buildings, attached to a car, and more. Once at the location, fans could log into a special site on U2.Com to purchase special merchandise for the event, which included a choice of two T-shirts, and a tote bag. The items were unavailable if you moved too far away from the site. One T-shirt featured the album cover on the front, and the title on the sleeve. The other featured an image of the white flag on the front cover, and the album title on the bag. Both T-shirts and the tote bag were all olive green in colour.
IMAGES: The Berlin Goodie Bag Contents (Left); Toronto Coasters (Right)
For “40 songs, 40 cities“, Universal Music went one further step in Germany and gave out 200 “goodie bags” at the event. These came in a custom printed bag, featuring the artwork of the album and a QR code. (The QR code led you to Universal Music Germany’s U2 store). Two stickers were also included with the same QR code. A poster was also given out, in a different design from those given out elsewhere. Berlin was the only location where “goodie bags” were given out, but there was one other physical item that we know about given out that day. In Toronto, the lyrics were painted on the outside of the Dublin Calling pub. Those inquiring inside the pub could find coasters printed with the album cover being given away during the event which included a QR code. (Photos of the contents of the Goodie Bag in Berlin are courtesy of Sabine, from U2Tour.de)
IMAGES: The U2.Com Exclusive Box including T-Shirt and CD (Left); Notre Dame T-Shirt (Right)
A couple of other items meet our definition of merch. Through the USA and European stores on U2.com, a special bundle was made available with a black T-shirt with the album cover. It came with the basic 16-track version of the CD. In Europe there was no box just the shirt and the CD, but in the USA there was a custom box which held both CD and T-shirt. One of the big tie-ins for a unique copy of the vinyl was Notre Dame University. A special blue and gold pressing of the album was done featuring the Notre Dame logo, and in return, all of the alumni of the university were notified of the release. Limited copies were sold through the Notre Dame Hammes bookstore on March 17. The bookstore also offered up a unique co-branded T-shirt with U2 available in store only. Although not branded Songs of Surrender we had to mention it here.
IMAGES: Letter #1 from The Edge
And one of the more unique items on the list, are the letters which announced the album to the world back in January. The album campaign was kicked off with The Edge sending letters to 40 fans around the world. These included letters going to fans in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Greece, Japan and more. The text of the letter is the letter from the liner notes of Songs of Surrender. Each letter was hand-numbered in the top corner, and the paper they were sent on has the Songs of Surrender name across the top of the page in Morse code. Makes you wonder what the band will do to announce the next album.
If you are aware of other items produced for promotion of the album intended as a giveaway or for sale, please reach out via our social media on Twitter, Facebook, or find our email here.
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