Good old fashioned record promotion

Avril Lavigne's turned to some tried-and-true promotion tactics in support of her new album. She has announced a whirlwind live performance tour, featuring six song acoustic sets at venues easily accessible to her core audience - malls. The promo people at Arista are even trying to give her tour an air of immediacy and exclusiveness by giving fans only 48 hrs notice of the locations and times of upcoming performances. Eager fans are supposed to pre-register, and will then receive an alert by email or SMS with all the information.

Ummm. When a major record label is arranging flash mobs, does that mean they're as out-of-date as trucker hats? Also:

... how cool is it that mall operators, publicists and journalists twice as old as her fan base already know before her fans did?

... her record label ... is maintaining the veneer of it still being a "surprise" tour ... Anthony Facchini, general manager of Toronto's Fairview Mall, was at least doing his part. He said he was under a gag order and couldn't tell his retail tenants until 48 hours before she would play the mall's large, indoor-court area.

The Chicago Tribune was even more cynical:

In a marketing stunt that could have been dreamed up by shopping mall pop queen Tiffany and Internet savvy political operative Joe Trippi, singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne this spring will take part in a "flash-mob" concert tour. The appearances -- to be held in shopping malls -- are part of the publicity blitz surrounding her next record, "Under My Skin," which will be released in late May.

The real genius behind this campaign is the online pre-registration. Targeted and up-to-date contact information is being collected at the website by the record label, instead of being lost on slips of paper by call screeners at radio stations and clerks at record stores. Arista is building buzz, goodwill AND a viable and nation-wide database of Avril fans. That alone is worth the cost of the tour.