101 Great Minds Agency Edition

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Mike Aaron, Director of Production at Mother.

”Music can play the role of a multiplier, relative to an image.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Mike Aaron, Director of Production at Mother.

”Music can play the role of a multiplier, relative to an image.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

MIKE AARON
Director of Production at Mother



"Music can play the role of a multiplier, relative to an image."

 

Miike Aaron, Director of Production, Mother

 

Aaron arrived at Mother in 2007 after spending eight years producing for the celebrated creative ad agency Fallon in Minneapolis. Concurrent with his responsibilities at Fallon, Aaron assumed the role of Executive Producer of Uncle Forehead Filmworks, producing both commercials and new media projects for blue-chip clients, including Lee Jeans’ interactive three-episode miniseries, “Buddy Lee, Guidance Counselor,” airing on MTV. At Mother, Aaron oversees the production department.

Reese: Thanks for joining us. It’s amazing how many people have agreed to be part of this conversation.

Aaron: I’m interested to know if you’ve spoken to anybody from within the religious community? Because I think music plays a significant role in terms of how you consume religion; especially in how you experience it as a child. Certain institutions have realized tactics that are very effective ways of capturing peoples’ attention. Think of choirs and what a powerful branding tool they can be.

Reese: The Catholic church is one of the most successful brands in the world. And of course singing is a far more effective way of communicating than speaking. A song imprints on people.

Aaron: What’s interesting to me is that music can play the role of a multiplier, relative to an image. A picture can be powerful: let’s say picture of starving children in Africa. But when you add music, it becomes so much more powerful, so much more engaging. You could see the same image in a newspaper or online, as part of a montage set to music, and it’s the music that really drives the message home… In fact, the diminishing returns of print might be related to how incredibly dynamic and powerful images can be when they’re set to music in the online environment.

Reese: Music is a way of lowering a person’s defenses. How does that relate to advertising, for you? After all, we’ve just established that however cynical you are, or whatever I’m selling, if I come at you with music, I hit you harder.


Aaron: But you can’t solely rely on music to make communication effective. It has to work alongside the visuals and the message that’s inherent in the communication. The music track isn’t the tipping point – you need to create something that’s incredibly effective visually for the audio to play its role. If you have a bad piece of visual communication, paired with a music track, you could make it even worse. But if you have an incredible piece of visual communication and then you combine it with the most appropriate track, it can be exponentially more powerful.

Reese: So how do you know when you’ve found the perfect track? What’s your process for getting it “right”?

Aaron: I’m very keen on finding something that’s not going to detract from or interfere with the visuals. In advertising these days I think less is more at times – things don’t need to be the loudest spot on TV, the one with the most bass. When people are being bombarded with messages all the time, it’s OK to have quiet moments… I remember our agency was working on a Super Bowl spot for BMW many years ago, and it just had minimalist but very well done sound design: a kind of gentle breeze blowing. And amidst the sheer chaos the Super Bowl, that caught peoples’ attention even more. Because it stood out.

Reese: Communicating music seems to be very frustrating for a lot of creatives – they feel they can’t describe what’s in their minds. Are there ways of communicating music that work for you?


Aaron: Talking about music is one of the most difficult parts of creating advertising, because it’s so abstract. It’s like trying to describe a Rorschach test. What do you see in this ink blot? Even if you have a clear idea in your mind, you don’t want to be overly prescriptive with the composer, who’s an inherently creative person. You want to give them latitude. So you end up describing emotion. It’s hard, but it gives them creative freedom. Because that’s when the happy accidents happen.

Reese: To the extent you have to let go of the tune in your head.

Aaron: Another approach is to give them music references. Which I don’t like to do, because it’s like drawing them a map to an exact destination. What you want to do is give them a general compass heading. The path they choose should be up to them.

Reese: When can you say ‘this is the music that will go on air’? Is it completely subjective?

Aaron: Since it’s such an emotional subject, it’s inevitably a gut reaction.

Reese: Who’s involved in the final decision?

Aaron: Well…everyone. Obviously, the clients have the final say. Our job is to give them several effective options. But at the end of the day, it’s so subjective that there’s no clear right or wrong choice. There’s no equation: we can’t say, “These notes work with these people; this level of bass resonates with this culture.” The science isn’t at that level yet. At this point it’s still a leap of faith.

Reese: Is there a way to isolate the return on investment on music? I believe that‘s something that both brands and ad agencies struggle with. Can you justify the price tag?

Aaron: Fortunately it’s not any one person’s decision how much things cost. The market decides the most appropriate price for a piece of music in a given context. There’s already a structure for that – although there’s some latitude within those general confines. But you don’t just pick a number off a wall.

Reese: Talking of effectiveness, we all have a list of our greatest hits – they’re the key to our musical preferences. With all the data-gathering we’re doing now, one day there might be an algorithm that can identify our music tastes and make brand messages more powerful by personalizing their soundtracks for us. What do you think of that idea?

Aaron: I think it’s true that if there’s a type of music I like, and if you associate it with a certain brand, then I’m likely to have a more favorable impression of that brand. But what you’re describing is a somewhat sad state of affairs. If consumers are constantly being spoonfed exactly what they like, they’re not going to appreciate the full emotional spectrum of everything that’s out there. Things are only good and bad by comparison. If you take away that continuum of comparison, you water everything down.

Reese: Would you hire a testing company specialized in music? To take away some of that subjectivity?

Aaron: I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t take all opportunities into consideration for making communication more successful. At the end of the day that’s what this is all about – we’re selling products. As to whether we would solely rely on a given piece of research, that’s open to debate. Commercials are already focus-group tested, it’s a norm in the industry. But do you always go with the one that tests the highest? No – because there are errors in focus groups. One person dominates the conversation. The human factor comes into play. It isn’t an exact science. So there’s always going to be a debate, and there’s always going to be a judgment call at the end of the day.

Reese: You’ve worked with some pretty famous musicians. Can you talk about that experience? What was that like? And how do you decide that a particular artist is right for a brand?

Aaron: In essence you’re trying to align demographics – this artist has the same following as this brand. Sometimes a brand has a very logical partnership with a musician, something synergistic. It’s a fascinating process to be around.

Reese: Last question. To use a music term, how do you know when you have a hit? Is there a piece of work you’ve done that you knew was the equivalent of a number one?

Aaron: I think when you first come up with a specific idea, it tends to be a very quiet moment. Because at that point you have no idea what impact it’s going to have. You might have that “aha” feeling where you think: “This is cool, this is different.” But in our business, everything should be different. So if it does go on to have a big impact, that’s a very proud moment, because you realize you’ve created something people have chosen to consume.


"A picture can be powerful: let’s say picture of starving children in Africa. But when you add music, it becomes so much more powerful, so much more engaging."
 

Reese: But was there an example when you just “knew”, right there and then, that something would work?

Aaron: I don’t think so, not really. Years ago I was involved in the creation of the BMW online film series (“The Hire”), which had a significant impact because it was one of the first campaigns where long-form film content was broadcast on the internet, as its sole means of distribution. With celebrity filmmakers and actors. But at the time I don’t think we knew exactly how influential it was going to be. We only saw that in retrospect. I think it’s always good to be optimistic. But cautiously optimistic – not overly optimistic.

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Felix Glauner, fmr. Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide Germany.

“You need to understand the brand essence first, and then translate it into sound.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Felix Glauner, fmr. Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide Germany.

“You need to understand the brand essence first, and then translate it into sound.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

FELIX GLAUNER


FMR. Chief Creative Officer at Havas Worldwide Germany

 

“You need to understand the brand essence first, and then translate it into sound."

 
Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide Germany

 

A trained communication designer at agencies in Darmstadt and San Francisco, Glauner started his career at Leo Burnett in Frankfurt, followed by a range of positions at Springer & Jacoby, Ogilvy, Publicis and McCann. Glauner has been managing Havas Worldwide’s creative departments in Germany since 2005. He is also the head of Havas’ European Creative Board. Glauner’s campaigns have been awarded numerous times, ranging from the Cannes Lions over Gold and Silver Effi es to an Epica Grand Prix and several ADC awards. In 2005, he was part of the film jury in Cannes and at the D&AD.

Reese: How important is music in branding?

Glauner:
Branding should stimulate all senses… so music certainly plays a huge role in building a brand. Most of the time the emotional aspect is in focus, but if you approach it in a professional manner and implement it effectively, music can increase the awareness of your brand immensely. Nonetheless, it’s the element that’s most often missing in client briefing sessions. Communication strategies rarely include music.

"Branding should stimulate all senses… so music certainly plays a huge role in building a brand."

Reese: That‘s true. Most brands neglect music and treat it like an afterthought. But why is that so often the case?


Glauner:
Music, or rather sound in general, is the least rational element in communications. On the one hand
it’s seen as an energetic means to intensify a message or to dramatize your story – a powerful tool that allows
you to touch your audience’s hearts. But on the other hand, it’s nothing that can easily be put into words. Strategic approaches to a product or a brand message are mostly very analytical and rational. Music is often seen as a matter of the Creative Director’s or the client’s taste, which I consider a big mistake.

Reese: Most brands are very disciplined when it comes to their visual and verbal communication. That’s rarely the case with their audio.

Glauner: Talking about discipline is very German, we tend to create rulebooks for everything. Of course, you
need to know the rules to break them, but as a French agency network, we try to approach branding in a more playful and less systematical way. I know that can be good and bad at the same time, but sometimes you have to give yourself a license to create novelty and an emotional impact. Keep in mind that 90% of the stuff that our industry creates is either irrelevant or boring, none of which connects to real people. Testing is a big issue and leads to a lot of repetitive and cliché work, also when it comes to the choice of music. You need to stay dynamic, contemporary, and surprising. Music and sound can add a lot to that. Corporate identities need to evolve and stay fresh and so does a brand’s sound identity.

Reese: That’s true, but I think there should still be a clear intention behind it. Coca-Cola is a good example for that: It‘s a very dynamic brand, but it‘s still also consistent and recognizable, because it follows a very strict audio style guide. It‘s a very potent combination of consistency and flexibility.

Glauner: It does help when a brand has a basic framework, certain stylistic rules to follow. Especially if a
brand collaborates with a range of different agencies or artists, it needs to be able to relate back to its core idea. In my experience, musicians are often happy to have a predefined starting point. In jazz, improvisation is regarded as a key element. But if the artists aren‘t brilliant in suggesting the core theme, the audience will perceive just chaos. Yes, Coca-Cola has a very consistent musical identity, but they don‘t seem to be as strict as they used to be. Today it often works on a more subliminal branding level and is not as distinct as it used to be. I‘m sure they do it on purpose to make their communication less ad-like and more contemporary. Of course, you can still feel the optimism of the brand in its sound design. It just shows how professional they approach the topic.

Reese: If you directly compare Fortune 100 brands – Coca-Cola is the number 1, Pepsi is the number 2.
Coca-Cola has a sound identity, Pepsi doesn’t. The same counts for McDonald’s versus Burger King. I
have found there’s a correlation between a brand’s market value and its audio behavior.

Glauner: Well, if a brand is successful, it is usually because of a whole range of aspects. It really depends
on how good the people are who manage it. I doubt you can trace a brand’s success back to its audio identity
alone – it is one of the many elements that can define a brand strategy. What Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are definitely doing right is that they’re not caught up in short-term, hasty communication measures, but they actually seem to follow a well-thought-through, long-term branding strategy on all levels of communication, catering to all senses. Naturally, audio is a part of that.

Reese: You mention hasty communication measures. In my research, I’m particularly interested in how decision-
making processes with regards to music unfold in agencies’ everyday business. And I have often found they’re quite subjective and can be very frustrating to everyone involved. Do you agree?

Glauner: It really starts with how you communicate music. Talking about music can be exhausting, because you’re trying to rationalize something that most directly speaks to your heart. I think the worst thing you can do is to try and speak a musician’s language when you’re not a musician yourself. Instead, you should try to express the emotions or the mood that you want to get across. Of course, your success also depends on whether your music partner can translate that accordingly. Reference tracks can help, but you have to be careful not to get stuck with a reference song that your client has fallen in love with but that’s out of reach. We at Havas have the big advantage now that we have formed a partnership with Universal Music, so that chapter is hopefully closed for us for good.

Reese: What if you have a variety of options on the table – which is usually the case, I daresay. How do
you and your team determine which one to pick? Do you follow a certain protocol?

Glauner: I have to admit it used to be quite often a chaotic process. We are now bringing in music a lot
earlier into the process, though, and we try to make it part of the idea, the story, more often. We just did so
with a series of Citroen Cactus ads: We bought The Comedian Harmonist’s “Mein kleiner grüner Kaktus”
(eng. my little green cactus), modernized the piece and used variations of the central theme in several 15
sec. commercials of the campaign. It gave it a spirit of playfulness and ease – the “jester” spirit, if you’re talking Jungian archetypes. In other instances, the topic music only comes into play towards the very end of a project. That’s where you want to have a variety of options, then you throw ideas back and forth, you’re looking for something that matches the brand character and the spirit of the ad. And then sometimes music isn’t the answer at all, and you just work with sound effects instead to keep it as authentic as possible.

Reese: Just by listening to the frequency of somebody’s voice, we intuitively decide within split seconds whether we can trust them or not. If you consider what that means for voiceovers in brand communication, for example, we as an audio agency firmly believe that brands should test their audio communication. What is your opinion on that? How do you evaluate audio brand communication?

Glauner: There’s a lot of testing happening these days on all levels of communication. To be honest, I am not
happy at all about this development for various reasons. But I agree that decision-making processes based on gut feeling alone are not constructive, and that they should be handled in a more professional manner. It’s a matter of understanding the brand essence in the first place, and then translating that into sound. The question should be: What does my brand stand for? And with regards to sound: What does my brand sound like?

Reese: When a brand doesn’t have a consistent voice, a consistent way of communicating its audio identity, it will alienate its customers.

Glauner: If a brand can alienate its customers, at least it manages to get noticed! Most brands fail to get noticed in the first place. The truth is that consumers simply don’t care about most brands. We need to do a better job at making brands stick out and get people’s attention – even if it’s by being disruptive and irritating. You see, the thing about most brand strategies is: They try to construct a brand universe around facts, not feelings. That’s why music is so important. In the end, the message itself isn’t key alone- it’s how we’re conveying it. If you want to change someone’s opinion, it will get much easier if you also manage to reach his heart. And as we all know, sorry for the cliché, music is the key to the heart.

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Susan Credle, Global Chief Creative Officer, FCB

“The future of audio branding is like a sawtooth wave. Quite bright.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Susan Credle, Global Chief Creative Officer, FCB

“The future of audio branding is like a sawtooth wave. Quite bright.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

SUSAN CREDLE

Global Chief Creative Officer at FCB

 

“The future of audio branding is like a sawtooth wave.
Quite bright.”


 

Susan Credle, Global Chief Creative Officer, FCB

Credle started her career as a fill-in receptionist at BBDO in New York and worked her way up to becoming a creative director at BBDO. She is now one of the most influential women in advertising, particularly known for developing the wildly popular M&M‘s characters. Along the way, she also helped turn Cingular Wireless into a household name and created award-winning work for clients such as FedEx, Pizza Hut and Pepsi. At Leo Burnett, she raised the bar for the creative department, fomenting a collaborative environment and producing some of the venerable agency`s most memorable campaigns. In June 2015, it was announced that she would succeed Jonathan Harries as FCB‘s Global CCO.



Reese: Susan, thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. Let`s dive right in: In your opinion, how important is music in building a brand?


Credle:
How important is a putter to golf? Brands are built with many proverbial clubs, tag lines, imagery, manifestos, points of view, missions, voice overs, spokes people, content, events, acts, sponsorships, the product. Music and sound design should definitely be in that bag. Enough with that metaphor. No doubt, people think about music when they are executing an idea in film. But I am not sure many of us think about the power of music and sound design when it comes to building a brand. Especially when it comes to a brand signature sound. One of my favorite examples of a signature sound is Old Spice. I recall that whistle from the 70’s. And while the creative expression is very different, the whistle still has that approachable sexual confidence embedded in it. The product name, design, point of view in the world, and the music are the enduring qualities of this brand.

Reese: I was surprised how many of the creatives I have talked to have a very close connection to music, not just in regards to their work, but also at home. So how important is music for you personally and for your work?


Credle:
Working to music is hard for me, so my office is usually silent. But at home, the music is always on. Music is like lighting. It sets the mood. Sunday mornings are always classical. Saturday afternoons are country. Start of the day, anything aggressive. End of the day, classic rock or alternative. If I light candles, I like jazz.

Reese: Seeing how strong we`re personally affected by music, do you think the right choice of music can change consumer behavior?

Credle:
Music is personal. When music gets someone’s attention, that message becomes more personal. If you believe likability contributes to a consumer change in behavior (and I do), the right music can lift the likability quotient.

 

Reese: Most brands disappear once you close your eyes. Do you believe a brand should be recognizable by sound only?

Credle:
It is an advantage for a brand to be recognized by sound. I wouldn’t say only. Audio is a powerful medium. So if you can hear a brand, when you can’t see it, that is definitely an asset.

Reese: Should audio be treated with the same discipline as visual and verbal branding? Should brands have an audio style guide – just like they have a visual style guide?

Credle: The times I have worked with brands on audio signatures, I have never regretted it. However, you must give yourself the freedom to use or not use when appropriate. Many times, I have seen people shy away from audio branding because they fear it will become a cumbersome asset. If you are writing the audio style guide, give yourself the freedom to apply where it makes sense. I can’t wait until we have this same discussion about smell.

Reese: Can you share your most memorable experience with music and how it influenced your work?

Credle:
“WHY THE FUCK can`t I find this cover anywhere???? This is bullshit! This is such a beautiful version of a beautiful song. God Damn It!” “Has the FULL VERSION of this ever been released yet? I guess it’s possible she didn`t actually records the whole song, which sucks.” This was the reaction to the music on a spot we did for Cingular Wireless. She was Cat Power and she didn’t record the full song. It made me realize commercials would become an incredible vehicle for artists to promote their music. It changed the conversation for me. Instead of taking advantage of famous music; we could make music famous together. This seems obvious today but not so much in the early 2000s.

 

Reese: Audio branding is a relatively young discipline, which is also one of the reasons I have created this series. I would like to spark the conversation about audio in branding. How about yourself – when you ‘re meeting with a new client, is audio brand design part of the conversation?

Credle:
Audio brand design has come up often in my career. However, I must admit we could do a better job of thinking this through for brands.

Reese: Where do you see the greatest challenge in finding a brand’s voice?

Credle:
I struggle with committing to a tone. Big brands with big points of view should be able handle different tones and different conversations. I worry about becoming too committed to one executional style or approach. If I look at a brand like Nike (which we all do), I admire how the executions are wildly different but the point of view, the soul of the brand, never wavers.

Reese: What’s your current decision-making process involving music?

Credle: It seems weird to put music and process in the same sentence. Music is magical. Music gets discovered. Music is about playing. I hope we never have a musical process.

Reese: That’s true. Music is difficult to put into words, which is also why a lot of creatives struggle with it. So how do you communicate music when briefing a composer/music company/music supervisor or publisher?

Credle: When I brief someone about music, I talk about emotion. I want to cry, feel uncomfortable. Euphoria make my heart beat faster. Anticipation followed by peaceful calm. I almost never talk instruments, notes or beats.

Reese: What’s your evaluation process? Do you test audio assets used in your brand communication?

Credle: I evaluate music by how it makes me feel first. Also, it is very interesting to watch how music can speed up a cut or slow it down. Does the lyric advance the filmic story? Is it provocative or expected?

Reese: How do you determine how much you are willing to pay for music – licensed or scored?

Credle: Music benefits from commercial exposure. The idea of selling out feels so precious to me. I don’t like paying ridiculous amounts for licensed music. If the music is the right fi t for the brand and the idea, it should be a win/win for the artist and the brand. The minute the price is too high, it makes me rethink the partnership. Perhaps, we aren’t right for each other. And if you are doing it simply for the money, well, that does make it rather crude.

I am not sure many of us think about the power of music and sound design when it comes to building a brand. Especially when it comes to a brand signature sound.

Reese: Is there a certain brand that you admire in their use of audio in their brand communication?

Credle: Definitely Intel.

Reese: Do you see a shift in how important music is becoming in your brand communication?

Credle: Actually, if I go back to the early days of what we call traditional advertising, music and sound were far more important to the brands than they are today. Perhaps because radio was the dominant medium. A sound strategy really was a sound strategy. We should
probably purposefully put more branding importance on this sense than we do.

Reese: Where do you see the challenges and opportunities when working with music in a branded social network environment?

Credle: Selfishly, I am excited by the possibilities for music in a branded social network environment because there will be many. But only for brands and marketers who stand for something. Artists will be more apt to partner with brands that reflect their own values. Marketers who know what their brands stand for will benefit from these associations. Hopefully, this will help marketers realize the value of long-term brand building as well as short-term sales.

Reese: What does the audio branding of the future look like?

Credle: The future of audio branding is like a sawtooth wave, quite bright. Film makes us listen with our eyes; audio will continue to make us see with our ears.

Reese: What does a big idea feel like? Do you recognize it immediately when it arrives?

Credle: A big idea feels amazing. Your imagination starts running so fast you can hardly keep up. The conversation is peppered with “we could, we could, we could.” And when you try to move to the next idea, you don’t want to, you keep going back to that other idea, that big idea. Big ideas are I-want-to-run-down the-hall-and-tell-someone ideas. I’m getting better at recognizing them. But ideas, even the big ones, are also very fragile. So you can ‘t just recognize them, you must execute them brilliantly.

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Washington Olivetto, Chairman of WMcCann Brazil and Chief Creative Officer of McCann Worldgroup for Latin America and Caribbean.

”If a picture is worth a thousand words, a song is worth a thousand pictures.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Washington Olivetto, Chairman of WMcCann Brazil and Chief Creative Officer of McCann Worldgroup for Latin America and Caribbean.

”If a picture is worth a thousand words, a song is worth a thousand pictures.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

Washington Olivetto

Chairman of WMcCann Brazil and Chief Creative Officer of McCann Worldgroup for Latin America and Caribbean.

 

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, a song is worth a thousand pictures."

 

Chairman of WMcCann Brazil and Chief Creative Officer of McCann Worldgroup for Latin America and Caribbean.

 

Olivetto is a global advertising icon and an immensely popular and influential fixture in Brazilian culture. One of the most awarded advertising creatives of all time, he has won more than 50 Cannes Lions in just the Film category, and was also the only Latin American to win a Grand Clio in 2001. In 2014, he received a Clio Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted in the One Show‘s Creative Hall of Fame. Olivetto is also a Member of the Council of the Berlin School of Creative Leadership, and has created the only two Brazilian commercials mentioned in Bernice Kanner’s book, “The 100 Best TV Commercials ... And Why They Worked.”


Reese: Washington, thank you for taking the time for this interview project So tell me, in your opinion, how important is music in building a brand?

Olivetto: If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, we can say that in many cases, a song is worth a thousand pictures.

Reese: How important is music for you personally and for your work?

Olivetto: Music has been my social radar, both in my personal and professional life. I use pop music to understand where life and world are going.

Reese: Considering how profound our reaction to a piece of music can be – do you think the right choice of music can change consumer behavior?

Olivetto: I do, and I am proud to be one of the ad people that produced a lot of hits in this business, creating and recreating music hits. Rider sandals is one example. For more than 15 years, I produced several TV commercials with classics of the Brazilian pop music that have been recreated. We chose a classic and a pop idol who had never played that classic, generating a new version of a song loved by everyone. Those versions were transformed into soundtracks that not only helped Rider to sell more than 8 million pairs per month, but also boosted the careers of the music artists, who received gold record awards (back then, records were still sold) and experienced a greater demand for their concerts.

Reese: A lot of brands are what I call “mute brands,“ they disappear once you can‘t see the brand anymore. Do you believe a brand should be recognizable by its sound?

Olivetto: This is not a rule, nor an obligation, but when it happens, it is a privilege. Good music places a brand in the consumer’s emotional memory. Good music generates intimacy. The expression “they are playing our song” certainly has a reason to exist.

Reese: But how can a brand become more disciplined, and less arbitrary, about the use of audio in its brand communication? Do you believe brands should have an audio style guide?

Olivetto: No doubt, but an audio style guide should provide greater creative freedom compared to a visual one. A well-managed dose of irresponsibility is part of the music creative process.

Reese: Can you share your most memorable experience with music and how it influenced your work?

Olivetto: I had the opportunity to create several memorable campaigns with pop music to the point of having two CDs released by Warner Records, named W/Hits, containing songs created or recreated for my agency’s commercials. Because of this, the Brazilian composer Jorge Ben Jor, author of hits such as the classic “Mas que Nada”, immortalized by Sergio Mendes, decided to write a song in tribute to my agency called “W/Brasil”, which became a huge hit, selling more than 2 million copies only in 1991. Years later, Jorge Ben Jor who had already paid tribute to the professional side of me, decided to also honor me as a person: he wrote another hit called “Engenho de Dentro”, in which he highlights the words “Olivetto has a head of black person. High IQ and TNT on the left side”. I must confess that both musical tributes thrilled me more than any award I received during my entire life.

Reese: Is audio brand design part of your conversation when talking to a client about brand communication?

Olivetto: It is mandatory.

Reese: Where do you see the greatest challenge in finding a brand’s voice?

Olivetto: To be original, and still relevant.

Reese: What’s your current decision-making process involving music?

Olivetto: It can happen in a disciplined way, in daily work, which I consider ideal. But it can also happen in a moment of leisure. Two examples: once I was on vacation in Mustique, in the Caribbean, when I heard in the Basil’s Bar a song called “Maddy Maddy Cry”, performed by the until-then unknown Papa San and right away I pictured a commercial for our client Triton, a teen clothing brand, type of Brazilian Uniqlo. Another time, I was walking on the streets of New York when I listened to “I had a craziest dream” performed by Frank Sinatra, and I concluded that it would the ideal soundtrack for a commercial of one of our clients, Garoto Chocolates (Boy, in Portuguese), where boys watched adult women. Both commercials, with these soundtracks, were very successful.

Reese: How do you communicate music when briefing a composer/music company/music supervisor or publisher?

Olivetto: I have the privilege of being friends with the greatest names in Brazilian music. I have friends who began their careers in the days of vinyl (especially the Bossa Nova guys) and others who became famous after the age of download, such as Rappers and ‘Post
Tropicalistas’. Because of this, I sort of speak the same language of people in music business, which makes easier for me to brief accurately no matter if I need incidental music, a soundtrack or even a new hit, created or recreated.

Reese: What’s your evaluation process? Do you test audio assets used in your brand communication?

Olivetto: I only test if it is a client’s demand, but fortunately most of my clients trust me and my teams. I prefer to evaluate a piece believing in my intuition, which is quite strong. In music, where the emotional component is crucial, my advice is to be away from decisions based on rational factors.

Reese: Let‘s talk about the value of music. How do you determine how much you are willing to pay for music – licensed or scored?

Olivetto: Based on the great amount of work done using music when I was Creative Director at DPZ, until I became partner at W/Brasil and now at WMcCann, I have knowledge to brief negotiations on a case-by-case basis, with good results for all involved. Today, more than focusing on the remuneration coming from copyrights, or mechanical royalties, music artists are interested in the number of concerts that a hit boosted by the media can generate.

Reese: Is there a certain brand that you admire in their use of audio in their brand communication?

Olivetto: I’ll list two examples known worldwide: I really like the work with songs that my friend John Hegarty developed for many years in the Levi’s commercials. And I also like the soundtrack that Stella Artois began to use in its commercials, starting from the commercial ‘Jacques’, the florist, created in 1990.

Reese: Do you see a shift in how important music is becoming in your brand communication?

Olivetto: I see it both in negative and positive ways: in the advertising business in general, I see music being used to create or reinforce great ideas, which is very good. And I also see music being used to disguise the lack of a good idea, which is very bad.

Reese: Where do you see the challenges and opportunities when working with music in a branded social network environment?


Olivetto: Music is very powerful, particularly among the young audience, big fans of social media. Music is so powerful among them that one of the key questions made by music industry leaders to someone who wants to become a music star is: “Is what you do something that will interest people from 13 to 19 years old?”

Reese: What does the audio branding of the future look like?

Olivetto: I see the branding of the future with more intelligent life, more persuasion and less imposition.

Reese: Last question – this isn‘t necessarily music related. How does a big idea feel? Do you recognize it immediately when it arrives?

Olivetto: As Creative Director and Partner at an advertising agency, one of my main tasks has always been to recognize and praise great ideas, especially great ideas coming from other professionals. I have been training for a long time to do this, and again, in these perceptions, my strong intuition helps a lot.

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Tony Granger, Global Chief Creative Officer, Young & Rubicam.

”Music can be extremely powerful. It connects to the heart. Music in advertising and in film influences you and informs you emotionally.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Tony Granger, Global Chief Creative Officer, Young & Rubicam.

”Music can be extremely powerful. It connects to the heart. Music in advertising and in film influences you and informs you emotionally.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

Tony Granger

Global Chief Creative Officer, Young & Rubicam

 

"Music can be extremely powerful. It connects to the heart. Music in advertising and in film influences you and informs you emotionally."

 

Global Chief Creative Officer, Young & Rubicam

 

Granger began his career in his native South Africa, where he led TBWA/Hunt Lascaris. Before joining Y&R in 2008, Granger spent five years at Saatchi & Saatchi, where he took Saatchi New York to the number one agency at Cannes. He led a similar renaissance at Bozell New York, where he took the agency to number three in the world. As Global CCO at Y&R, Granger is the architect of the company’s global creative community and has attracted some of the industry’s best creative talent. Creating a collaborative creative culture has resulted in great work and results for clients such as Land Rover, Dell, Wendy’s, Gatorade and Vodafone. Under the leadership of Granger, Y&R has won many awards, and he’s been fortunate to serve as president of several international juries.

Reese: Tony, thanks for being a part of this. Let‘s dive right in: How important is music in building a brand in your opinion?

Granger: Very important, in the way that a score for a film is very important. It guides the emotional experience. Helps make the work memorable. It is something that can make an exponential difference.

Reese: How about yourself? How important is music for you personally and for your work? Do you play music yourself?

Granger: My first ambition was to be a musician. While the jocks were off playing futbol, I was playing in a band. I learned to play guitar before I could write. My mother was a musician, a really talented pianist, and she taught me how to play. So as early as I can remember, music was a huge part of my life. In a big way, growing up with music taught me a lot about the creative business. The dynamics of creating music in a group and learning how to be a team player is very similar to making great creative, and the process that goes into making ideas better.

"Music is often times an afterthought. That to me is a big mistake. Music should be just as important in developing the strategy as the visual."

Reese: That‘s true. Some of my interviewees have actually told me that they prefer to hire musicians for creative positions in their agencies. So considering the effect music can have on people, do you think the right choice of music can change consumer behavior?

Granger: Absolutely. Music can be extremely powerful. It connects to the heart. It connects to the soul. It entertains. Music in advertising and in film influences you and informs you emotionally. In a black and white film, the music being played behind a scene of a guy
creeping up a staircase can make you feel sinister or fearful whereas the tracks in a Charlie Chaplin-esque film are airy and fun.

Reese: A lot of brands disappear once consumers close their eyes or turn away from the screen. Do you believe a brand should be recognizable by sound only?

Granger: That’s an odd question. It’s true that some music, usually jingles, may quickly identify a brand. But the branding itself involves so much more — and that’s a good thing. You want the music to feel integrated and inevitable, but it is part of a complete experience that starts with the product or service itself and is expressed in the way the brand looks and feels.

Reese: Compared to a brand‘s visual and verbal communication, do you think audio should be treated with the same discipline? A lot of brands sound arbitrary in their audio communication. Should brands follow an audio style guide – just as they have a visual
style guide?

Granger: So much thought and eff ort goes into the editing, directing and casting of a film. Music is often times an afterthought. That to me is a big mistake. Music should be just as important in developing the strategy as the visual.

Reese: Looking back at your life and career so far, what was most memorable experience with music? Can you share that with us?

Granger: Music is the soundtrack to people’s lives. When I hear a Black Sabbath or a Zeppelin track I can remember where I was and who I was with. When I listen to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ album, it takes me back to the night I finished school – and I don’t have the best memory. Music has such a strong emotional quality.

Reese: Brand managers seem to be hesitant to commit to audio in their branding strategies. Is audio brand design part of your conversation when talking to a client about brand communication?

Granger: It really depends on the target and how they want the film to be perceived… super cool, poignant, sad, retrospective… The classic jingle can still be really powerful. There was a long period of time where it was uncool to do that, but when you can connect a brand with a brand signature it’s very powerful indeed.

Reese: Where do you see the greatest challenge in finding a brand’s voice?

Granger: It’s also where the greatest opportunity lies — in defining strategy. If we really get the brand’s consumers — and it’s important not only to look at data but also to live with the consumers and understand how they interact with a brand — then its creative expression is grounded in something powerful. That guides the whole process from what kind of work we do to what kinds of emotions we are trying to invoke. All of which has bearing on music.

Reese: I‘m always interested in what drives the creative process at advertising agencies. What does your current decision-making process involving music look like?

Granger: As I’ve said, what we do is very collaborative and so it’s important to think about music from the beginning. In any collaborative eff ort, the inspiration can come from many places and the rest will follow. Believe me, it is completely apparent when you have the wrong music and the right music.

Reese: How do you communicate music when briefing a composer, a music company, a music supervisor or publisher? A lot of creatives seem to struggle with talking about music.

Granger: Don’t think there is a single answer to that. But at some level, for every piece of work we do, getting the emotion right is the key driver.

Reese: How do you pick music? Considering that music is often so intuitive and subjective – what’s your evaluation process? Do you test audio assets used in your brand communication?

Granger: Deciding on the music is always very difficult. You can give the music so much thought and in theory the track can work, but when you put the song to picture it often doesn’t work the way you thought it would. I always recut according to the music. The music is really what connects the audio with the picture.

Reese: What about the value of music – how do you determine how much you are willing to pay for music, licensed or scored?

Granger: Well, it depends on how powerful the piece is and how much of an audience it comes with. It’s more likely that an advertiser is willing to pay big money for a song from an artist who has a massive following. We’re essentially buying into the artist’s fan base. Their followers dictate the cost combined with what the song does to the audience from an emotional point of view.

Reese: Is there a certain brand that you admire in their use of audio in their brand communication?

Granger: Hard to single one out. So many brands are using fantastic music at the moment. But artists that become synonymous with the brand they’re trying to create will be more valued than an unknown. The popular artists come with a huge fan base and that will
help a brand’s likeability. You’re not only buying the music, but also what the artist’s brand stands for. For example, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry all have very distinct brands, which create different brand connections for the consumer.

Reese: Do you see a shift in how important music is becoming in your brand communication?

Granger: When I was growing up in the business, musicians didn’t want to have anything to do with advertisers and were very selective, even in features. That’s all changed now. Brands can give musicians massive exposure, and these days, artists are very willing to collaborate on any level. There is a quid pro quo relationship that advertisers and musicians began to realize. The advertisers not only get access to a famous track, but also an artist’s fan base, and the artist gets taken to places they never thought they would go… like cinema and the Super Bowl.

Reese: Last question, and it‘s not necessarily music- related: How does a big idea feel? Do you recognize it immediately when it arrives?

Granger: You absolutely recognize it immediately. A big idea makes you want to do cartwheels, and when it’s discovered it’s often unanimously loved.

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Stéphane Xiberras, President, Creative Director, BETC Paris.

”Music is a universal language. It‘s the only language that everybody can understand.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Stéphane Xiberras, President, Creative Director, BETC Paris.

”Music is a universal language. It‘s the only language that everybody can understand.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

Stéphane Xiberras

President, Creative Director at BETC Paris

 

"Music is a universal language. It‘s the only language that everybody can understand."

 

Stéphane Xiberras, President, Creative Director, BETC Paris

 

Xiberras is the man bringing the “savoir faire“ and French touch to advertising. The son of a Maltese father and an Italian mother grew up in the South of France and started his advertising career as an intern in an agency called Ecom. He has been with BETC since 1999, and has been behind the agency‘ s work for Canal+ including award winning spots “The Closet“ and “The Bear“.

Reese: So tell me – what’s your musical background?

Xiberras: I come from the South of France. But I’m not very French, because my father is Maltese and my mother is Italian. I lived in Aix-en-Provence and started experimenting with music – I was programming some of the early machines, the first Fairlights and all these old gizmos, you know? Next came Paris, as a student. No sun, no girls, no money. So: advertising. I suspect I got the idea from the TV show Bewitched. The guy worked in advertising and his wife was a witch. In my dream I wanted to be like him, with a beautiful witch as a wife. But it was a lie, because at the end, still no girl, still no
money. But… I did things.

Reese: It worked out all right. Why the obsession with animals, by the way?

Xiberras: Oh, it’s like La Fontaine – parables. If you’re trying to say something about humans, it’s often easier to say it with animals. If you want to make a point about your mother, maybe you compare her to a squirrel… It’s not crystal clear, right?

Reese: No, no, I get it. So let’s turn to music. Can it change behavior? In advertising?

Xiberras:
Yeah. It’s the key. If you’re talking about a universal language, music is that – it’s the only language that everybody can understand. BETC was the first agency in France to bet on music. If you look at the Evian ads, they’re not about babies, they’re about music.

Reese: So how important is music, or audio, in brand-building? Is there a percentage?

Xiberras:
I would say 50-50. Even when you’re looking at the screen, music is everywhere. It’s soundwaves, it’s energy.

Reese: At what point in a project do you think about music?

Xiberras:
At the beginning. Because when you’re writing something, you’re doing it with the music, to have the mood, the energy, or to feel sadness, or a particular emotion. I’m gonna show you a sneak preview of something. I made a film for the French national lottery,
and my first idea was about the music, which was (sings) “Booorn to be wiiild.” But “Born To Be Wild” is about Vietnam, it’s a little bit clichéd, so I made this. (Shows an ad with a mariachi version of Born To Be Wild).

Reese (laughing): How did you make that connection? How did you come up with that?

Xiberras (also laughing):
I don’t know!

Reese: Come on... When we see something like that, it all looks like some kind of happy accident. But what we all want to know is – how did you get there?

Xiberras:
I don’t have a recipe. Look at this film. I made it with Tom Kuntz. The guy is a genius, but at the end of the day, you see the film without the music and it’s quite ordinary. With “Born To Be Wild” by the big Mexican orchestra, it’s completely crazy. It’s about freedom and travelling and forgetting everything. It’s a trip. I wanted to show you that because it’s about music and the fun you can bring to people with it. Because it’s not really selling the lottery. it’s selling the idea that anything is possible. That you can discover a new hope, a new
love, randomly.

Reese: So what’s the indicator that an idea is great? Is there something in you that says: “You know what – we need exactly that.”

Xiberras:
If you can pitch the idea to your mother or your child in one sentence, it’s a good sign.

Reese: Simplicity.

Xiberras:
Simplicity is a good thing. Then, it’s the quality of the execution. Everything has to be perfect: every image, every sound. The aim is to get to “Oh, I love this thing – can I watch it again, please?” When you see “The Bear” for the fi rst time, you want to see it again.

Reese: I just watched it three times.

Xiberras:
And then you want to share it – you love it, you share it. So: simplicity and perfection in the execution. But even that’s not the entire recipe. There’s also intuition.

Reese: What are your frustrations? When you’re communicating what you want but can’t seem to get it?

Xiberras: I know the industry very well, so I know when it’s just a job. I choose my fights. But sometimes you have to fight. Ideas have a lot of enemies. You hear a great idea, and three months later you see some TVC or digital gizmo and you think, “What happened? Our
great idea ended up as THAT?” “Oh, it was the client, or the director, or my mother, you know…” No, I don’t know! You had a good idea and you didn’t protect it.

Reese: Your job is to keep good ideas safe, like guarding
some kind of diamond?

Xiberras: Of course, of course! And if I think you’ve ruined
an idea, I’ll tell you. It’s not a democracy here. I’m paid to have an opinion.

Reese: Do you see a shift in how important music is becoming? Is it more important or less?

Xiberras: More important. When you look at the music industry, it’s amazing. They have a power our industry doesn’t have any more, in times of image and attractiveness.

Reese: I mean when you look at music in TV commercials, do you see a change there?

Xiberras: Yeah. It’s funny because we were talking about Volvo, “Epic Split”. The music is perfect. Half of the power of that film is based on the music.

Reese: Your films “Bear” and “Closet” were post-scored, if I understand it, like Hollywood movies. It makes me think of Spielberg and John Williams, who have a kind of marriage. They don’t even have to communicate about music any more. Do you have a marriage like that, with a composer…?

Xiberras: No, no.

Reese: Because I know that communicating music can be a problem for a lot of people.

Xiberras: It’s very diffi cult to talk about music – almost impossible. But you should talk about colors, about what you want to feel, rather than saying you want cellos or a reverberation at this point. You have to explain the emotion you want to feel, thanks to the music. But only a musician can explain that to a musician.

Reese: Which is kind of unfair because of your background as a musician. But for other creatives it can be like trying to talk Japanese. They feel at a loss.

Xiberras: Right, absolutely. It’s the same thing for the editing: it’s about beat, it’s about rhythm. You either get it or you don’t.

Reese: Most brands are very disciplined visually but their audio is arbitrary. Do you think they should be as disciplined in their audio communication as they are visually?

Xiberras: No. For me it’s absolutely the contrary. A big brand should have a platform idea – “I stand for good, or quality, or surprise”, or whatever – but the executions should be different. For instance, I’m working for Ubisoft, who make video games, and we have to talk to different targets. In my opinion we have to defend the same idea but in different ways. A brand should be rich and innovative, especially in music. Can you imagine having the same music for ten years? So boring.

Reese: What about audio logos?

Xiberras: It can work, but… nah. Not my thing. For me it dates back to the fifties, to radio, when you needed that impact. But if you take my daughter, she’s 14, she doesn’t care about jingles. She wants something to share; great ideas; something new.

Reese: I can see our time is almost up. But this has been great.

Xiberras: Thanks to you. Listen, next time we can talk about Star Trek. I heard you worked on that, right? You know Picard is one of my heroes?

Reese: I met Patrick Stuart many times. I even met Gene Roddenberry, just before he died. You know, the creator of Star Trek?

Xiberras: Of course, of course.

Reese: I studied film scoring and conducting in Los Angeles and one of my lecturers was a composer on the show, Ron Jones. He gave a lecture – and I talked to him after it and I said, “Can I please come to a Star Trek session?” We started chatting and I told him I originally wanted to be a tennis pro, back in Germany, but I gave it up when I was trashed by an unknown ten-year-old called Boris Becker…

Xiberras (laughing): Really, that’s incredible!


A brand should be rich and innovative, especially in music. Can you imagine having the same music for ten years? So boring.

Reese: Jones loved that story. He told me he was a tennis nut and invited me to play with him. After we played he said: “Do you want to work for me?” I was like, “What d’you mean?” He said: “Do you want to work for me, as an orchestrator? Except you also have to play tennis with me three times a week, for two hours in the morning.” I was absolutely speechless. So that was my first job. I was working on the show by the age of 21.

Xiberras: That’s destiny. To boldly go where no-one has gone before!

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Sir John Hegarty, Founder, Worldwide Creative Director, BBH.

“It‘s hard to overestimate how important music is. It can transform a message.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Sir John Hegarty, Founder, Worldwide Creative Director, BBH.

“It‘s hard to overestimate how important music is. It can transform a message.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

Sir John Hegarty

Founder and Worldwide Creative Director at BBH

 

"It‘s hard to overestimate how important music is.
It can transform a message."

 

Sir John Hegarty Founder, Worldwide Creative Director, BBH

 

Hegarty is one of the world’s most awarded and respected admen. Over six decades, he has been at the forefront of the creative advertising industry from the early days of Saatchi and Saatchi to Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH), the global company he co-founded and still runs today. Starting out in 1982, the agency swiftly became one of the most talked about advertising agencies in the world. Hegarty has been responsible for the iconic Levi’s ads and has pioneered the importance of music in commercials, which has earned BBH nine number one hits. Hegarty has won golds at every industry award, including D&AD, Cannes and British Television. He has been given the D&AD President‘s Award for outstanding achievement and was admitted to the US One Show Advertising Hall of Fame.

Reese: How important is music in building a brand?

Hegarty: I would answer that in a slightly different way. Music is incredibly powerful when it’s part of a message, which in turn is helping to build a brand. Brands are built out of stories. Of course they begin with the product – but the brand, what it means to people, how they respond to it, is built out of stories about that
brand: where it comes from, who founded it, its vision… And you can communicate those things in a number of different ways. Film is one of them – and in that context music is fundamentally important.

Reese: Agreed.

Hegarty: It’s hard to overestimate how important it is. Music can transform a message. It doesn’t transform the narrative structure – but it can change the meaning of that structure. So why is that? The thing about music is that it’s an almost purely emotional medium. A tune can have absolutely no meaning apart from the emotional response to it. A story has to have a meaning, a structure. In music the meaning is absolutely connected to your soul and your heart – it’s just something you feel.

Reese: It’s true that songs don’t need a narrative.

Hegarty:
As James Stephens says in his wonderful book The Crock of Gold, “what the heart feels today the head will know tomorrow”. In other words, we’re emotional creatures. We take in information through the heart – and that’s where music goes in. That’s what
makes it so powerful.

Reese: Can it change consumer behavior?

Hegarty:
Oh, totally. Absolutely. It can make you want to be associated with something; feel a connection with it. I mean, you don’t listen to a piece of music and say “Oh, I’m going to buy that new Audi.” But in the message you’ve created, the right piece of music can change the way a person feels or thinks about it. For a long time we worked on the Levi’s 501 campaign…

Reese: Of course!

Hegarty:
Music was obviously very important to that. Once we had a narrative about a young man staying at this hot and stuff y little boarding house in the US somewhere. He comes down in the morning in his boxers and standing behind the counter is this beautiful girl – obviously the owner’s daughter. He goes behind the counter and takes his jeans out of the fridge. It’s so hot he’s been keeping them there. Originally we wanted to use James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”…

Reese: You managed to get that?

Hegarty:
Trouble was, it didn’t work. With that music, the guy’s acting looked terrible, he seemed to plod down the stairs. Then the client rang and said we couldn’t use the James Brown track, it’s being used by a brand in Belgium. So we had to think again. Soon the editor called me and said: “Come over, I want to play something to you.” Without changing the cut, he’d laid across it “Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters. And that transformed the edit. All of a sudden the way the guy walked made sense, it had a sexual tension about it, it dialled up the relationship between these two young people. The film went from being okay to being outstanding, without changing a thing. That’s the power of music.

Reese: Is there a way of making that happen? Is it just instinct? Or luck?

Hegarty:
I have a theory that, actually, a piece of film has an unseen rhythm to it – the way it‘s shot, the acting, the edit. And the music captures that rhythm and enhances it. The music has to connect to that, while the lyrics should add some kind of meaning. It can be a loose connection. We did a fairly famous commercial for Levi’s called “Launderette”…

Reese: Sure, the guy stripping down to his boxers in the laundry.

Hegarty:
I wanted to put “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” on it, even though I was told it wouldn’t work. I insisted because I wanted to tell the audience: “There’s a message about this brand I want you to listen to.” There was a loose, not obvious connection with the lyrics. It found the rhythm of the film. So: Find the connection between the music and the story, then find the rhythm of the piece. But having said all that, it’s elusive.

Reese: Did you ever sit down and write an audio style guide for Levi’s?

Hegarty:
No – we didn’t. We talked about it, because we used to burn our brains out trying to get the right music for each film. But we always wanted to be surprising. The problem with 501s was that we were in the fashion business, but we were selling a product that
stayed the same. So each ad had to be a new fashion statement. In a sense, when you bought a new pair of 501s, you were buying the ad. It worked like a fashion show: This is the new look. It had to be a different story, expressed in a new way, with a different piece of music. With a style guide, we would have fallen into a formula.

Reese: The formula was that there was no formula.

Hegarty:
The formula was to surprise ourselves. Sometimes we had to fight for our ideas. For a film called “Swimmer”, we put on “Mad About the Boy”, a Noel Coward song sung by Dinah Washington. Levi’s were concerned that it wasn’t fashionable enough. But we
told them: “You’re the trendsetter. If you use this song, it will be fashionable.” I remember there was concern in France, where the ads were primarily shown on MTV. Later we heard that Levi’s was getting amazing results there, because kids loved the ad on MTV. We constantly pushed the envelope. If we had decided that it always
had to be R&B, the whole thing would have collapsed.

Reese: Should there be a way of defining return on investment when it comes to music? So that the right budget can be devoted to it?

Hegarty: Fortunately, with Levi’s we had a client who realized that they had to invest in music – we won that battle. In fact we got to the point where record companies knew that if their track went onto a Levi’s commercial, they would sell huge amounts of CDs. We could
almost negotiate a cut of the extra sales.

Reese: So everyone was on your side.

Hegarty: You have to say to the client, “Give us the time and the budget to get the music right.” I’ve had many clients who baulked at going over budget for a track – even though it was going to make the film ten, twenty times better. Bear in mind they’ve already spent half a million making it, and they’re then going to spend another ten or fifteen million getting it out there. Why wouldn’t they spend a bit more on a piece of music that will make it brilliant? It’s because most clients want communication to be a science. If you could give them a precise formula that would guarantee a certain result, they would love it. They don’t like the fact that salesmanship is an art.

Reese: So you have to sell it to them first.

Hegarty: You can tell them that, based on your experience, it should work, but you can’t show them the ROI figures in advance. All you can do is say: “This track will make the film brilliant.” But even though it’s a paltry amount within the overall budget, they won’t spend the money. Because they don’t feel that difference.
And it is about feel.

Reese: If I could offer you a service where I could measure the return on investment on music in a branded environment, would you entertain that?


Hegarty: Yes, but I’m not sure I’d really believe it to be absolute. I’m always trying to do something different – I believe in the power of difference. And the problem with measurement is that it looks backwards. But life changes. The world changes. The piece of music that was perfect back then may be irrelevant now. A lot of successful companies fail because at a certain point they just keep on doing the same thing.

Reese: Do you believe that brands should commit to a sonic identity, like McDonald’s and Intel?

Hegarty: Well there you have a conflict there between: “I recognize you, but I want to be surprised you.” Predictability can be good, but the danger of that is that I start to ignore you. I worry that as soon as brands start to lay down guidelines, as opposed to emotions, they begin to diminish peoples’ desire to find out more about them. By trying to contain your communication, you begin to undermine its impact.

"A lot of successful companies fail because at a certain point they just keep on doing the same thing."

Reese: At the same time, it’s good to have a point of view, so people know what you stand for.

Hegarty: The most interesting musicians in history, are all about change. If you listen to The Beatles‘ Sergeant Pepper and compare it to their earlier albums, it sounds like a totally different band. Or David Bowie. There’s a Bowie attitude, but no specific style. If he had a signature tune that he rolled out all the time… kind of boring.

Reese: Final question. To put it in music terms, how do know when you’ve got a hit?

Hegarty: Well, that is the question, isn’t it? I would say there are two things that happen. The truth. And daring. The truth is one of the most powerful forces in communication. Great musicians find a truth, they tap into a feeling that resonates, that you believe in. And the other is to be daring. To say something new, totally unexpected. When I’m looking at work I ask two questions: Is there truth in this – and is it daring? If you have those two things, you have a chance of creating something special.

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Rob Reilly, Global Creative Chairman, McCann Worldgroup.

” Sound is super critical. Music and sound are 50% of why a piece is good.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Rob Reilly, Global Creative Chairman, McCann Worldgroup.

” Sound is super critical. Music and sound are 50% of why a piece is good.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

ROB Reilly

Global Creative Chairman at McCann Worldgroup

 

"Sound is super critical. Music and sound are 50% of why a piece is good."

 

Global Creative Chairman, McCann Worldgroup

 

As Global Creative Chairman, Reilly is responsible for creative oversight of the McCann brand globally as well as developing multiplatform approaches for clients across the more than 120 countries in which McCann Worldgroup operates. Before joining in 2014, he was Partner/Worldwide CCO at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. He had first joined CP+B in 2002 as a copywriter, creating some of the most talked-about campaigns in history. Reilly‘s work has been recognized at Cannes with multiple Titanium and Grand Prix Lions as well as two Interactive Agency of the Year awards. He has served on a number of industry awards juries, including as President of the Cannes Titanium and Integrated Jury. Reilly is a member of the Cannes Chimera, The One Club Board, the Facebook Creative Council, and the White House Entrepreneurship Task Force.


Reese: How important is music in brand-building for you?

Reilly: I don’t know if it’s in brand building, but I would say music and sound is 50% of why a piece of film is good. Even if it’s part of an app or a digital experience, sound is super-critical.

Reese: A recent Millward Brown study shows that sound contributes substantially towards brand recognition. And yet very little marketing resources are devoted to music.

Reilly: Well, it’s always a challenge. Brands like Microsoft are very committed to music: They spend money on tracks, they break new artists. Certain brands see the benefit. When we work on campaigns for Microsoft that are about devices, you need music to carry the interest of the spot, especially if you’re showing devices and not people. The story is somewhat limited so you’re relying on a piece of sticky music.

Reese: Do you use music when you’re thinking about campaigns?

Reilly:
I write ideas to music. If I’m in a situation where I have to sit down and solve something, I usually put music on, so I’m very connected to it. Depending on how much I want to concentrate, it’ll be more obscure. If it’s something I’m familiar with, it tends to distract me.

Reese: I’m interested in the decision-making process. Do you listen to music when you work with your team, to find the right fit?

Reilly:
Well, we have music people on staff at McCann in New York. They’re not necessarily brought in at the beginning, at the concept stage. We have talented creatives and producers who’ve got their own ideas. The music person usually comes in at the production stage. But the editors are pretty good, too. They make suggestions, because they have to cut to something. We might then send the cut to our music people who are also working on ideas. In the case of Microsoft, we also have a relationship with this entity called Platinum Rye, which is a sort of music licensing and music idea agency. So, you’ve really got a plethora of people working on it. Doesn’t mean it’s easier. Sometimes it’s harder. Plus, Microsoft has smart people over there, and they know what they want. The music’s been good, but it can be a struggle to get to the right piece.

Reese: So how do you get there? Once you see it on screen, it looks like a happy accident.

Reilly:
It’s trial and error. You never know what’s going to be interesting, what’s going to be funny, what emotion you’re going to get out of it. I think everything gets better with music… I’ve certainly not seen anything that has gotten better by taking music away. That’s just my personal preference. I know there are people who would disagree with me. If you look at the Eurobest 2014 Grand Prix (“Epic Split” for Volvo Trucks), the Enya song is maybe 150% of the eff ect. Of course, the writing, the whole thing, is perfect… The song is what adds to the comedy. When the music starts playing is when we start laughing.

Reese: This is a big subject for creatives: How do you talk to musicians, especially if you’re not a musician? You’ve been part of so many successful recipes, there must be a reason. Is there something you could share with us? Are you a musician?

Reilly:
No. I was kind of a singer in a band at college, but not because I was good. I had long hair, so I looked the part. The rest of the band were more talented than me, but they looked odd. So I know music a little bit, because I was around it a lot. But if you asked me to sing an octave lower, I wouldn’t know what that was.

Reese: So let’s say somebody doesn’t know. What would you tell them to keep in mind when they’re talking to a composer or a musician?

Reilly:
When you’re scoring a piece of music and when you’re dealing with music houses, it can be very difficult. I’m a firm believer in hiring one company. I don’t say, “Hey, here’s our piece of film,” and then give it to three or four different music houses to come up with options. You don’t hire three directors or three editors. Why would you need three music houses? The main reason I suggest this to producers is because our creative people do not know enough about music, just as they don’t know enough about directing or producing. “Oh, I want it to be energetic, but at the same time subtle,” those are the kind of directions creatives give to music companies. The direction we give them is, I think, pretty poor. So when you have too many music companies, they’ll throw tons of stuff at it because they want to get the job. But if you work with just one company, they can sit down and say: “What do we all want to get out of this? Let’s try a bunch of things together.”

Reese: Right.

Reilly:
As you said, the music budgets in these jobs are getting smaller and smaller, so the least we can do is not make it a pitch every time.

Reese: So, the music company of your choice, that you love, what are they doing so well? Why do you go back to them?

Reilly: There’s a company called JSM in New York. Joel Simon, whom I’ve known for a long time, he’s just a great guy and he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure we get what we need. I’ve introduced him to some people at McCann and he’s delivered for them; so now he has a relationship with them and they trust him and his people. Plus, familiarity means you’re able to say, “This is terrible,” or “I hate this”, or “This is cheesy”, as opposed to companies you don’t know, where you have to be more diplomatic.

Reese: Do you think music can change consumer behaviour? Can it influence purchase intent?

Reilly: Coupled with the right idea and the right execution, for sure. I mean, that’s why we use music. You watch a movie without music and it can be terrible. Or when someone puts different music on something, it changes the entire way you feel.

Reese: It’s a direct way to your soul. Are sound identities part of your conversation with brands? Do they ask you to help them find their voice – like McDonald’s or Coke? Let’s say a mnemonic.

Reilly: Yeah, I would say that happens a decent amount of time. I’m not a huge fan of that, but I’m not super opposed to it if it’s cool and interesting.

Reese: You don’t think it’s mandatory?

Reilly: No. I mean, I know someone’s done the math that says, “A signature sound at the beginning and the end of your commercial will increase recall or likeability.” So, it does come up. You see it more in global brands, like McDonald’s. And maybe that makes sense: you’re trying to have some kind of trigger globally. If you’re in Dubai and you see a commercial in a foreign language, but you recognize the tune, that gives an impression of consistency.

Reese: There are great campaigns, there are really great campaigns, and there are decade-defining campaigns. How do you know when something like that is on the table?

Reilly: Well, if we all knew that…

"Consumers are now much more interested in whether brands are playing a meaningful role in their lives. Which is what we do at McCann. We help brands figure out their meaningful role in people’s lives."

Reese: But are there indicators in your life, when you can say: “That was the switch that got flipped”?

Reilly: The truth is you just don’t know. Maybe there are some people who claim they do. But I don’t believe it. You can’t really know until you put it out there in the world. I can say that my creative process always starts with: “When this idea lands in culture, what’s the story the press will write about?” And it’s not Ad Age or Campaign magazine, it’s The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal… That’s how I judge things. But in the world now and in our business, I don’t know if there will be campaigns that last for ten years anymore. I’m not sure there’s a place for them. Consumers are now much more interested in whether brands are playing a meaningful role in their lives. Which is what we do at McCann. We help brands figure out their meaningful role in people’s lives.

Reese: Right.

Reilly: Everything we do should ladder up to that. The campaign now is the products you come up with, it’s the experiential things you do, it’s the other brands you partner with – yes, it’s also the advertising, but that’s just one of the factors.

Reese: I suppose what I’m looking for is the advertising equivalent of a decade-defining song. What was the song that defined the 80s for you, for example?

Reilly: I don’t know, something by Madonna, probably. But I think you’re getting mixed up between ads and campaigns. Of course, we remember some of the ads that def ned an era. We can even remember the agencies: For me, the 80s was Chiat Day, for example. So “1984” might be a good choice. But it’s like with music: You could ask ten different people and they’ll give you ten different answers.

Reese: I think you can compare ads to music in that distribution was much simpler back then. There was a lot less competition for our time.

Reilly: Sure – and you know somebody asked me a question the other day about music. They said: “Do you think musicians are selling out by becoming part of brands?” And I was like: “Have you bought a record lately?” I think for musicians it makes perfect sense. Consumers can get music for free, or very cheap, they can get it on Spotify. So, for musicians, sales are not paying the bills. And when brands sponsor tours, or when musicians put their music on commercials, I think everybody knows why. People used to admire brands for “not selling out”, but now I think they’re aware of the problem. The model has changed.

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Rich Silverstein, Founder, Chairman and Partner at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

” Our job is to build a brand through language, imagery, voice and sound.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Rich Silverstein, Founder, Chairman and Partner at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

” Our job is to build a brand through language, imagery, voice and sound.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

RICH SILVERSTEIN

Founder, Chairman and Partner at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

 

"Our job is to build a brand through language, imagery, voice and sound"

 

Rich Silverstein, Founder, Chairman and Partner at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

 

After graduating from the Parsons School of Design in New York City, Silverstein moved to San Francisco to work as an art director in one-year increments for Rolling Stone magazine; Bozell & Jacobs; Mc-Cann Erickson; Foote, Cone & Belding; and Ogilvy & Mather, where he met Jeff Goodby and finally settled down. They founded GS&P in 1983 and have won just about every advertising award imaginable. In 2002, Silverstein was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame and, in 2004, into The One Club Creative Hall of Fame. Along with his partner Jeff Goodby, he was named Executive of the Decade by Adweek. His passion is evident whether he’s crafting client work, creating his own work, working on projects for the Center for Investigative Reporting or visually blogging for the Huffington Post.


Reese: Let’s talk about music.


Silverstein:
Without music, you have nothing. Every once in a while there’s a young creative who says to me, “I don’t want to put any music on it. We don’t need it. We’ll just use sound eff ects.” And they think it’s manipulative and commercial. I disagree. Soundtracks are
so powerful. Music sets the tone and the mood. It’s almost kind of subversive, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It makes you feel something you don’t even know you’re feeling.

Reese: Do you believe it can change consumer behavior?


Silverstein:
That’s the big question. It goes back to the universal question: Can marketing achieve that? Did you watch the show Mad Men? You know, the episode around the Coca-Cola song, “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” We’re hard-wired for music, it’s in our blood. You hear that song, and it gives you chills, even though it’s kind of corny. It’s the most powerful Coca-Cola commercial ever made, and how many years ago was that? Almost forty?

Reese: It’s crazy! I know.

Silverstein: We have always used music. I don’t think we’ve ever done a spot without music – at least none that I liked.

Reese: I find that the reality in our industry is often the opposite, though. Music is just an afterthought.

Silverstein: It’s part of the editing.

Reese: Right. It’s not really at the strategic level.

Silverstein: We just won the Gold Lion and two Silvers for the Adobe Photoshop 25. Photoshop’s birthday was coming up and they came to us looking for ideas. So we pulled out a Steven Tyler song, and we built the entire video around the song. We had the song first, but we had to edit it to get it powerful within 60 seconds. Then we had to get Steven Tyler’s approval – and he loved it. It was a lot of fun, and certainly not an afterthought.

Reese: Most brands are quite disciplined in terms of visual and verbal communication, but almost arbitrary in terms of audio, even though brands with a high discipline in audio tend to have a higher marketvalue.

Silverstein: That’s very interesting. I think Apple figured that out long ago. They’re as strict with their audio as they are with their graphic design.

"Human beings can’t survive without music and wherever technology takes us tomorrow we will always respond to music the way we did a thousand years back."

Reese: Do you think brands should follow Apple’s example?

Silverstein: I’ve never really thought about it, but it’s very interesting. The problem is that the world has become so impatient. Whatever you do today, we don’t want it tomorrow. I brought this up in Cannes, too. I’m really tired of not seeing great campaigns. Stop giving awards to one-off s that are trying to save the world. And focus on building a brand instead. Apple doesn’t win awards, but it builds its brand. I believe our job is to build a brand through language, imagery, voice, sound, and that means a consistency. But companies don’t seem to see it. A new CMO comes in, and everything’s thrown away. Whatever you were, we’re not.” The only reason that Apple works is that you had Steve Jobs at the top, saying, “This is what we’ll do.” Without him, it wouldn’t have happened. No other company is as disciplined.

Reese: There are others – German Telekom, which is T-Mobile in the U.S. And McDonald’s, or Coca-Cola. They’re all very disciplined.

Silverstein: I think it’s very interesting. I’m not against it. I think that music can be a brand signature. I don’t see much of it, though. I don’t see enough of it.

Reese: What you said earlier is true: The average time a CMO is in office is 18 months. They come in, they want to change everything, and what happens is that you lose the equity you built in something that might have been existent for ten years or so.

Silverstein: If you look at car design – look at the Fiat 500 launch. They kept the DNA of the car and then expounded on it. A smart CMO came in and looked at what was the best of that brand, and kept it.

Reese: Our way of communicating with one another has changed a lot over the past years. If you look at the last 20 years, do you see a shift in how important music has become?

Silverstein: No, I don’t see a shift. But what I’m realizing by what you have said is that I’m probably part of the problem. Music tends to be a part of the editing process. Or we take the rough cut and take it to a music house, and they will give us a range of things to think about. But the concept of music being part of the actual idea from the very beginning onwards, as part of the script, that’s very interesting. It can’t be like that every time, but there should be more of it.

Reese: How about your creative decision-making process? Has that changed in any way?

Silverstein: The chain of decisions has never changed. We always try to fi nd the truth in the product. When we develop a creative piece, it has to feel right for the brand. I have to be able to identify with it. It has to be something I can connect with. And music plays the role of the connective tissue. We are wired to appreciate music. We probably can’t talk about it too much… You feel music, and you talk words. Back to your question: The decision-making itself hasn’t changed, but the world has changed so much. We use different access points. The Internet is this giant new area to play in, and so are cell phones. Our insight into humanity hasn’t changed, but the technology has – and how we use it for our storytelling.

Reese: You’ve been part of so many successful recipes in the past. You have the ability to pick a winner out of a hundred options. How do you do it?

Silverstein: Both with your heart and your mind. Don’t let anyone talk you into something. What I had to learn is that you can’t be liked as a creative director. You can’t be suckered into wanting someone to be happy because you liked their work. You can’t.

Reese: If somebody asked you how you developed that sense of knowing when something is great. What would you say?

Silverstein: You either have it or you don’t. There’s one Lady Gaga, there’s one Tony Bennett, and there’s one Paul Simon. I don’t think you can learn it. I can tell you the rules: If it feels right, it’s right. I can tell you that. But I can’t teach you what feels right. You have to have that in you. We really put an eff ort into recruiting people who get it. I don’t have to teach them – I just have to bring it out in them.

Reese: So you’re saying you have to have it in your DNA. Either you’re born with it or you’re not.

Silverstein: Yeah. We held a cocktail party in Cannes, and a lot of people who used to work for us stopped by. They’re from all over the world, they either run companies or they are at a senior level at their agencies, and they started out with us! We have a very good way of finding talent. It’s critical to any business, really. You have to find the right talent – otherwise you don’t have anything. I’m very proud that we find the talent and we teach them our inside, our discipline. But their heart and their mind are already established.

Reese: If there was a core message you wanted to get across to the people reading this book, what would it be?

Silverstein: I’m not going anywhere. I haven’t done my best work yet. I want people to watch out for what we’re going to do next year. You probably don’t watch the Tour de France? I’m very involved in cycling. Tony Martin is the world’s best time trialist. He won the stage yesterday for Specialized, one of our clients. It was a
monster ride. Talk about drive, and discipline, and never
giving up. That’s what I want to be.

Copyright © 2020, amp GmbH

Copyright regulations apply when using material from this document and when using the supplied video or audio files. This document is intended to be exclusively viewed by the recipient and its subsidiaries. Under no circumstances may the content or part of the content made available or forwarded in any form orally or in writing to third parties, in particular to competitors or affiliates. The publication, reproduction, distribution, reproduction or other utilization of the presented ideas, texts, layouts, concepts, films or audio files without express written permission by amp GmbH.

amp 101 Great Minds interview with Nick Law, Global Chief Creative Officer at R/GA.

“Nothing evokes emotions so viscerally as music.”
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amp 101 Great Minds interview with Nick Law, Global Chief Creative Officer at R/GA.

“Nothing evokes emotions so viscerally as music.”

101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior

Agency EDITION

NICK LAW


Global Chief Creative Officer at R/GA

 

“Nothing evokes emotions so viscerally as music."

 

Nick Law, Global Chief Creative Officer, R/GA, New York

Beginning his career as a designer in Sydney, Law continued as an advertising art director in London, and transitioned to digital in the late 90’s after moving to New York. As Global CCO at R/GA, Law leads an increasingly diverse group of creatives that include interaction designers and creative technologists. Since joining in 2001, Law has worked with clients such as Nike, Beats by Dre, HBO, L’Oréal and Google, and R/GA has become one of the most awarded agencies in the world. Adweek named R/GA Digital Agency of the decade and Nike+ as campaign of the decade. Law has been on every major award show jury and has twice been named in the Creativity 50, a list of the world’s most influential creative people. He is recognized as an industry
thought leader and has been published globally.




Reese: Wow... we’ll all have different experiences to the same film.

Law:
I think sound is important, and music is important in certain contexts. The big change that‘s happened since the world became networked is that the way we market to people has been added to. When I grew up in the advertising industry, before the networked age, it was easy for creative directors to have abstract maxims, and for them to ring true. The classic was “less is more.“ If you‘re creating a piece of print communication, or even a thirty second spot, that‘s sort of true: you want people to walk away from that communication with a very concise idea or feeling. But that’s not the only way marketers work anymore. Another one of the maxims we hear from advertisers, mainly because the industry for many years was driven by thirty-second TV spots, is: “It‘s all about storytelling.“ But now we have media that are not about storytelling, but about frameworks of behavior. I‘m holding an iPhone here, and when I turn it on and off it makes a very specific sound. Same when I send an email. There‘s an audio layer to this brand that has nothing to do with storytelling and everything to do making functionality apparent. It serves not just to make me feel something about the brand, but to make me understand how the brand is behaving.

Reese: What about music?


Law:
We know the advantage music has in the storytelling space, because nothing evokes emotions so viscerally as music. But when you look at our relationship with the networked world, it’s basically about our relationship with a bunch of systems. Our relationship with writing is based on our understanding of the alphabet as a system: in fact, we understand the system so well that it becomes invisible. The mistake interactive agencies make is that they think that social media by itself is interesting. It‘s not! It‘s only interesting if it‘s delivering something beautiful. Music has a great advantage in these new frameworks because we all understand music as a system. [iPhone makes text noise.] There we go, there‘s a great example of sonic branding, right?

Reese: It‘s not an accident.

Law:
No, exactly. It‘s designed to for you to understand a behavior. I was in a Microsoft meeting last week, where a phone rang, and everyone knew it was an iPhone. And they started to go “boo, hiss!” It was funny because it was just a sound they were reacting to. But they reacted to it in such a visceral way. Going back to the point, these new systems, new frameworks of behavior keep cropping up every six months or so now. So what you want to deliver through those systems are things that people don‘t have to decode, because they‘ve been living with them as a species for so long that they‘re invisible. And music is the best example of that, right? Even more so than language, because language is specific to the cultural context.

Reese: Before we could write anything down, we would transfer knowledge to the next generation by singing around the campfire. If you survived a snake bite, and you wanted to come back and tell us what herbs you put on the would, it would be put into song.

Law:
In advertising we used to have very singular context within which we mediated between companies and the audience: interruption. In a newspaper, on TV, you bought space in other people‘s content and you interrupted people. Now there are countless contexts: search, aggregations, social media applications… And these contexts keep colliding with each other. Let’s take Amazon, where the context is one of transaction. As soon as I have Amazon on a cell phone, and that cell phone is enabled with GPS, it collides with location. Now, transaction and location become a new context altogether. There are so many different contexts now that we can‘t just look at what we do through the prism of craft.

Reese: The power of music is very contextual, too.

Law: Absolutely. Wieden & Kennedy always finds beautiful music for the Nike spots. There‘s one called Fate. When I think of that spot, the thing that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up is the music.

Reese: It multiplies your visual experience.

Law:
Yeah, but I‘m not sure that the same music, delivered when I’m looking at my cell phone while I‘m waiting for an elevator is going to have the same effect, because the context is going to be different. So the music has to be right for the specific context.

Reese: When, where and why.

Law: Yeah, exactly. And this is the thing that I think our industry is taking the longest to recognize. Most of the people in advertising got into it ten, twenty years ago, when it was a sort of proxy for Hollywood: it was a great place to tell filmic stories. But I think there are many creative opportunities that are hamstrung by our inability to step out of our craft and look at all of these contexts. Going back to music, I think music is actually a perfect language for multiple contexts.

Reese: We have a tremendous ability to remember music. Songs from our adolescence make a deep emotional connection: it becomes instant recall. It‘s in RAM for the rest of your life.

Law: One of the things that prevented music from being an important component of the web in the early days was that the initial context of the web was information. Now the web has become so much more than that. We entertain ourselves on the web, we use applications – and we listen to music. At the beginning, the web was a difficult media to use music in. That‘s all changed, but it’s taken us a while to catch up.

Reese: Do you think there are still unexplored possibilities?

Law: Sound as branding is incredibly important when it comes to these behaviors that I was talking about. Content now so often how has an interface in front of it. So our relationship with content is through interface, and interfaces work better when they‘re visceral. And that‘s why Apple has taken the time to brand all of these sounds, these functional sounds. I don‘t think many companies are using that in as sophisticated a way as they should be.

Reese: It‘s also a matter of our transmission systems. The way we experience audio today on a phone today is better than twenty years ago on a regular TV…. How much is audio branding a part of your conversation with a new client or existing client? Is it part of the conversation?

Law: If you‘re looking at the storytelling side, then we all know the power of music to drive the emotion of a story. Ten years ago a classic branding agency would have created a set of guidelines that gave clients the tools of typeface, color, shape, tone, and so on. What we are more interested in are guidelines around behaviors. How does the interface tell me before I even touch it what it’s going to do? Once I touch it, how does it delight me in getting me where I‘m going? And that whole experience is delivered with sight, sound, motion. And music, or sound, is a really important part of that. It provides a narrative engine.

"One of the things that prevented music from being an important component of the web in the early days was that the initial context of the web was information. Now the web has become so much more than that. We entertain ourselves on the web, we use applications – and we listen to music.

Reese: What’s really interesting for me to know is, how did you feel when you had a great idea? Did you recognize it at that moment?

Law: We were recently voted digital agency of the decade, and Nike+ was voted digital campaign of the decade. And because it’s a system of behavior, it wasn‘t one idea. It was a lot of ideas: it was Nike, it was Apple, it was us, it was a very collaborative and incremental sort of creation. So, it wasn‘t like a bolt of lightning hit any of the participants.

Reese: Collaboration is more important than ever.

Law: I think it‘s really important, because we sort of divide our world into storytelling and systematic design. It‘s important that we are able to do both, but it‘s also important to realize that it‘s different ways of thinking. Creative people are an accumulation of their habits. You get good at something after you‘ve been doing it for ten years, right? But that creates pathways in your brain, and it means that you have a sort of Pavlovian response to a problem. You come up with a great solution based on your experience, on your habits. That doesn‘t mean that just because you‘re creative director at an agency that you have to suddenly design a system of behavior. You might have some ideas that could spur someone else who‘s expertise that is. But we have a problem in our industry where we think that creativity is one flavor.

Reese: When I went to study composition in Los Angeles – and I’m a decent, OK piano player – the first thing that happened is that they said you need to get rid of your instrument. You need to start writing without the piano. You need to trust abstract thinking. Just because you‘re a great piano player, doesn’t mean you‘re a great composer. It doesn‘t work like that. As you were saying, it‘s a completely different craft.

Law: Going back to this transition our industry is going through, traditional creatives, their piano is storytelling. They want everything to be able to be played through that prism or that filter, and it limits them. I think that that‘s a lesson that all creative people could learn.

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