Tagged: Brands & Music

Happiness gets a little intense with Coke

When it comes to audio branding there isn’t much that Coke has not excelled at. From its multicultural anthem about buying the world some fizzy pop through its omnipotent open happiness, the vegetable flavoured soda pop has long understood the power of music to sell. So with a new marketing strategy doing the rounds its no surprise that they are dancing to a new tune.

I have no idea what the brief was for this but what they have created feels a little miserable for a brand known for preaching happiness. Rather than worry about whether images of protest communicate joy and togetherness, lets focus on the music. Well my response there is pretty much the same. I’m sure someone will do some nice piece of research that says the new aggressively happy Coke has changed perceptions, reached out to the millennials and made Coke the drink of the bearded wonders but it just doesn’t feel right. Coke is generic and that is not a bad thing, so this attempt to create communications that exclude rather than embrace audiences feels a bit wrong.

I guess you have to admire the bravery but being brave doesn’t make you right.

While we wait for the outcome here’s something that is happy.

ALL ABOUT THAT DATA: Havas and Universal Music work together to build big spreadsheets

 havas-advertising-newUniversal Music Logo
Welcome to 2015 the year in which music and brands will finally work out who wears the trousers in this relationship. To begin the year we have the news that Havas and Universal Music have agreed to have one leg each.

This one has been bubbling under for a while, since Vincent Bolloré, head of the Bolloré family, the largest Havas shareholder, became chairman of Vivendi, owners of Universal, it seemed like a logical move for both businesses. Whether this was all worked out over dinner at Chez Bolloré, Havas’ chairman happens to be Yannick Bolloré, son of Vincent, or through some in-depth analysis of the music and brand market and a realisation that it lacked a super power, I will never know but it is probably the biggest commitment to cooperation we have seen so far.

So what is it all about? On the face of it and if you read the various press releases the whole thing is about data, lots and lots of data, I’m not going to say BIG DATA (doh!) as that is so 2014. They have even managed to sneak the word data into the collaboration’s name – THE GLOBAL MUSIC DATA ALLIANCE – which I think should be shortened to GLOMUDA for no real reason. There is loads of talk about combining all the numbers that both sides gather on their audiences and using them to work out better ways of combining music and brand to everyone’s benefit. At this stage then the focus is very much on building some really enormous databases and working out some spectacularly complicated algorithms to make sense of them. This kind of analysis will help prove the case for music and brand relationships of all shapes and sizes and I guess it will not be too long before GLOMUDA (trademark pending) becomes self-aware and Ed Sheeran is being hunted down by a cyborg from the future.

For music and brand geeks the GLOMUDA is an exciting project between two real powerhouses in their industries with the very highest level of executive backing. Where I think the real potential for this relationship will be is in a year or two’s time, once they have enough data to create accurate insight into music and consumer trends. If they take this insight and use it as a starting point for some outstanding and innovative creative work then Universal and Havas could be building a market leading platform. But it is just the starting point, both sides will also need to invest heavily in creative talent as translating insight into inspiration is the true key to success.

In the past partnerships like this have not worked as one side saw it as a bit of fun while the other considered it a way to get someone else to pay the bill. This partnership, however, could change that simply because of its scale, the board level support should ensure that the Havas agencies function collectively rather than competitively when it comes to music projects while Universal has a pretty progressive view of brand relationships. Plus if all else fails Mrs Bolloré can always step in and sort things out.

So to start 2015 we have a biggie and one that we will need to observe throughout the year, if anything so we can see what impact GLOMUDA has on Music Dealers (Havas) and Globe (Universal).

Here are links to the Havas press release and coverage in AdAge:

Havas press release

Adage: Bands and Brands: Universal Music Partners With Havas

UPDATE: Well it didn’t take long for someone to ruin my BIG DATA avoiding 2015. This article on mediajobs.com gives a more cash focused reason for why HAVAS + UNIVERSAL = DATA, DATA = CASH.

Hudl round for some happy sounds

WARNING: ADVERTORIAL (My version of it)

It is rare that I get a chance to showcase creative work that I’ve delivered for a client. As I’m not a musician or sound designer all my work is done in the shadows so I wanted to share this recent work for the new Hudl 2 tablet from Tesco. The device has been getting a lot of rave reviews since it launched a couple of days ago and a lot of them have focused on the physical design, which is impressive. What people have not yet talked about is the audio experience of the new Hudl.

The Tesco Connected Devices team were very thorough in their approach to creating the Hudl experience and left no stone unturned in making sure everything communicated the values of brand and the purpose of the device. A key part to this communication are the sounds that the device makes as it does its thing. Not happy with the stock Android sounds they instead chose to create a unique sound world for the Hudl so that what the user hears matches what they see.

I was lucky enough to work closely with the device development team to create the sound of the Hudl. They embraced the whole process of translating the brand and user experience into sound and with the composition and sound design talents of Paul Sumpter of The Futz Butler we made the Hudl brand sing (and beep). The best thing about it was that rather than explore the safe and the average we were given the freedom to really experiment, you can read more about Paul’s work here and watch a video of him smashing things up in a calm and non-aggressive way.

A lot of the sonic branding created today is bland and generic because while its starting point is one of exploration the end point is usually one of mediation. For the Hudl sonic branding the aim was to simply communicate the brand and with that in mind we were allowed to focus on creativity and values rather than compromise.

I’m really proud of the work and I want to give huge thanks to the Joe and Danny from the Hudl team for their commitment to eating stinky lunches in the studio and allowing us to experiment, Martin Lawless for his amazing insight into the Hudl brand and reflections on the Hacienda days and Paul Sumpter for his superb creative work and comfy packing crates.

The best way of checking out our work is of course to go and buy one and if you want to learn more about how we created the sound of the Hudl or want to know more about sonic branding feel free to contact me.



renaissance hotels  resorts logoYou’ve just flown half way across the world for a meeting, jet lag is about to kick in and you can’t decide whether you should eat now or try to get on the local timetable. You know what you need? A gig.

I don’t think that was exactly how the brainstorming session went but that is certainly what is on offer now at Renaissance Hotels following their announcement of a number of music partnerships. First off we have live entertainment mega brand, AEG, who by the sounds of it will be the driving force in this new music adventure. Then sneaking in through the VIP entrance are Universal Music Group and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to create a team of really big entertainment brands. The purpose of all this is to make Renaissance Hotels the only hotel group offering a “variety of unique activities and platforms”, music ones that is. The plan seems to be a combination of exclusive events for clientele, priority access to AEG events and a bunch of content for the in-room tv channels and various websites. One novel idea is that they are also offering “Meeting Discoveries” which will allow you to follow that six hour management meeting with access to special events.

The reason this partnership has lead me to write is that it is quite a bold move by a hotel chain seeking to gain more corporate business. Traditionally hotels look to sonic branding to create relaxing, comfortable experiences out of alien environments. The traditional use of music is to enhance the physical space with tranquility, cue pan pipes in the toilets and a pianist in reception. So for a brand like Renaissance Hotels to explore the idea of music experimentation is very much away from the norm and it will be interesting to see if the weary business travellers embrace this opportunity to choose a hotel offering live music over one with softer pillows.

The interesting thing here is not the output of the partnership but who is leading it, if Renaissance Hotels make this work it will be fun to see how the competition reacts. Maybe you’ll see Holiday Inns offering a spare TV in every room so you can live like a rockstar and throw one out of the window.

If you want to know more about this partnership you can read all the details here on twst.com (The Wall Street Transcript).

UPDATE: I couldn’t sleep last night as I kept having flashbacks of Universal Music Group doing something hotel-ly recently. Well maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but this morning I flicked back through my old posts and guess what they have, but with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. While not exactly the same kind of partnership there are definitely a few similarities such as live events in hotels. The key difference is the audience, Fairmont seem to be targeting people on holiday while Renaissance are after the business market.

In the same way there are supposedly only meant to be 7 story plots there are probably only a limited number of basic music and brand partnerships, the key to making them feel unique is in the implementation and that comes down to how well the brand and the music work together. After all you will never stop music from jumping into bed with somebody else.

SAMSUNG puts Faith in finding talent

Samsung have launched a new creativity and brand promotion called Launching People. The idea is to give undiscovered talent, in one of the following disciplines; Film, Photography, Food and Music; an opportunity to work one to one with celebrity mentors and get their mitts on some new Samsung product. The chosen few will appear in a TV programme. Let me know if this is all sounding a bit familiar?
To add something different to the usual talent search competition Samsung has drafted in what can be described as a very credible bunch of mentors. Rankin is covering photography, Gizzi Erskine is doing food, Idris Elba is on film and finally the  Paloma Faith is in for music. Then add global megabrand Samsung with their deep pockets and cutting edge technology, we should now have all the ingredients we need for something cool.
No nodding off now, things are about to get exciting, Honest. The public will get to vote on who will be the chosen few to get the help of the mentors and some Samsung kit. The winners in each category will then get to work with their mentors over 2-3 weeks to figure out how they can fulfil their potential. This bit will all take place while they live in a house kitted out with the latest  Samsung products, expect to see those product placement warnings before each episode and the house available for purchase soon after the show airs.
Look, don’t get me wrong I love the idea of giving talent a leg up but there has to be a more original way than this. The mentors they have put together are top drawer, who wouldn’t want to be shown how take great photos by Rankin or taught how to sing by Paloma Faith. But with great talent comes great responsibility and Samsung’s agency has just gone to the shelf of “same old ideas”. To add to the averageness of the activation they have hosted the whole thing on Facebook.
I know I’ll turn up to some event in a year’s time and see a case study about how successful the campaign was, how they had thousands of likes on Facebook and loads of Twitter activity but you know what that doesn’t make a campaign great or even  effective. If they find great talent then they’ll have achieved one goal, but the true purpose is to promote the Samsung brand and make it stand out as a brand that empowers creativity through great product. I’m no Apple fanboy but I have to admit when I compare this campaign to Apple’s film to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Mac I very clearly know who is helping creativity thrive.

INSPIRATION: Grey show Simon Fuller what Spicey music should sound like

I love it when the title of an ad starts with the words “The Sound of…..”, it means I get to watch some highly synced, brand based visuals. So here we have “The Sound of Taste” an ad created for Schwartz spices by the London outpost of Grey. The music has been provided by MJ Cole who is more commonly associated with “Crazy Love” rather than spice inspired classical compositions but it certainly an interesting foray into advertising.

It is kind of interesting. Blowing up colourful stuff, be it food or paints, is nothing new in advertising, Sony love a bit of it. But what makes this feel a little different it is that the music is just so damn calm while the visuals are quite the opposite, plus I have never thought of Schwartz’s products as being the kind of stuff I would like to munch on while relaxing in a big armchair listening to a Ministry of Sound Ibiza Chill Out mix. In summary we have spicy stuff exploding in sync with a nice calm piece of music. Works for me.

P.S. For those who really have absolutely nothing to do with their time you can even watch the making of video. I’m not actually sure when advertising agencies decided that we needed to know how they made their ads but can someone tell them to stop. I could go on a massive rant about this but since life is too short and I really want to keep some time free to find out how they make the moustache on the Go Compare guy so wavy, I’m going to leave it there.