Bruni Albums Given Away

Anyone wondering what her record company is doing with thousands of unsold Carla Bruni albums may be interested to know they’re being given away in a campaign to promote French exports.

Italian-born Bruni, who married French President Nicolas Sarkozy in February 2008, now has her third album – Comme Si De Rien N’Etait – given away as part of a package that also includes vouchers for a piece of cheese, a bottle of wine and a corkscrew.

At least 14,000 people in 19 countries have applied to receive one of the gift packs through the Ministry of Agriculture initiative. But the campaign hasn’t met with the approval of the French media or many of the country’s taxpayers.

“Is the wine designed to help forget her music?” asked Elle magazine, after the tax-funded marketing campaign was announced.

The album debuted at No. 3 on the French album chart the day after its release, selling 14,130 copies in two days. The week after, it climbed to No.1 with 18,248 sales, before dropping to No, 2 with 13,364.

After this impressive start, sales slowed and only 80,000 CDs were sold in the two months following its release. This represents barely the half of the printed copies and much less than expected. Bruni’s first album sold 2 million copies and her second sold 380,000.

In March, Bruni faced further humiliation when she did not receive a single nomination at the Victories of Music, the French recording industry equivalent of the Brit awards.

“Of course it hurts me, but I suppose it’s quite natural,” she said in response to some of the more vitriolic reviews the album attracted.

The government insists the initiative is aimed at increasing international food and drink sales, but anger has been expressed at the way it also promotes the president’s wife and that marketing agency Sopexa had £1 million of taxpayer money to spend on the project.