Working in a creative industry means we collaborate with other passionate creatives on some outstanding projects.
It also means we’re constantly checking out projects from other creators for inspiration, understanding or just plain enjoyment. Here are some recent projects we’ve worked on and loved, as well as one we particularly appreciated from an agency we hope to work with in the future.
WeWork: Spotlights and Initiatives
WeWork provides offices and workspaces that support human comfort and inspiration, offering startups, freelancers and other work groups the worry-free space they need to collaborate and focus on their dreams.
We recently collaborated on a few WeWork pieces: one was a spot describing the company’s Community Refugee Hiring Initiative, and a Veterans in Residence Spotlight. Since the focuses of both pieces were the profound stories told by those who appear in them, it was important that the music didn’t overshadow the speakers. Instead, it had to provide just the right auditory highlight to enhance and underscore the profound emotional impact of their message.
For the Veterans in Residence Spotlight piece featuring Kerrie, the two tracks are “There Are No Facts, Only Interpretations” by Spirit of Spain and “Primeval” by Johnny Fiasco. The piece itself, however, starts with an instrument whose sound is practically synonymous with the U.S. armed forces: a snare drum. Kerrie’s story fills the space, and the introduction of a sparse, light musical track enhances the emotional impact of Kerrie’s family photos, images from her work in WeWork spaces and her opportunity to work — and laugh — with other veterans-turned-entrepreneurs in the Veterans in Residence program.
The Community Refugee Hiring Initiative piece starts with a sobering fact: “Conflict and persecution force over 28,000 people to flee their homes every day.” It’s not news that calls for happy music — but the hope and resolve demonstrated by the refugees who tell their stories in the piece would conflict with an overtly sad track.
The piece that starts with a few simple piano chords, building over the course of the ad to a light yet determined musical strain backed by percussion as WeWork explains the origins of the Community Refugee Hiring Initiative and asks other companies to join the program’s goal: to hire 1,500 refugee workers worldwide in the next five years.
Aaptiv: Manifesto Rebrand
Fitness app Aaptiv was embraced by users early in its life, raising $20 million in revenue in its first two years, according to Alex Konrad at Forbes. In 2017, anticipating further growth and excited about its new projects, Aaptiv decided a rebrand was in order.
“The world needed to see what we were seeing on a day-to-day basis—a group of high caliber, dedicated trainers, a highly supportive community of members, and a business that emphasizes strength-of-mind and purpose over vanity and appearance,” said Aaptiv CRO Arjun Kapur. Central to Aaptiv’s methods of responding to its users is its use of sound, particularly music. As part of the rebranding via its ad campaigns, then, the right choice of music was crucial. The “Manifesto” rebrand video interweaves the brand’s core messages with a backing track by Leo Islo called “Oh Dystopia” that’s mid-tempo, but with a high-energy vibe that pushes toward the ad’s final message: “This is what fitness sounds like.”
Visit Seattle: ‘First Takes’
In Visit Seattle’s “First Takes” campaign, visitors to the iconic West Coast city experience Seattle’s offerings for the first time. We’ve had the opportunity to contribute our musical knowledge to several ad spots for the campaign.
Many of the campaign’s videos focus on particular sensory experiences throughout Seattle. “Seeing Color and Light” juxtaposes a first-time visitor’s passionately joyful response to Chihuly Garden and Glass with images from the museum. The intensity of emotion, color and light is layered over the sparse, dronelike texture of Jonathan Headley’s “Nuclear Wind,” adding not only an auditory element but also a textural one, with tones reminiscent of glass chimes or singing crystal. The result is an experience of “seeing” that is overtly synesthetic.
In “Experiencing the Market,” a visitor describes Pike Place Market in terms of its smells and textures, enthusiastically listing the scents of various foods and flowers along with the texture of the cobbled streets and the busy, open-air feel. Her infectious delight is backed by the upbeat bluesy swing of “It’s Alright for a Night” by Joe Smith & The Spicy Pickles, providing a sense of adventure with a classic feel. We could practically taste the market air.
Amazon: Sneaky Pete Season 2
Streaming video services like Amazon Prime and Netflix have poured their budgets into creating original television series recently. Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, created by David Shore and Bryan Cranston and launched in 2015, follows a released convict who assumes the identity of his former cellmate in order to avoid his past life.
Season 2 of the show debuted to praise for its complex storytelling and its artistically complex use of visuals and facial expressions in lieu of dialogue — the ultimate “show, don’t tell” of cinematic storytelling. In keeping with that theme, the Season 2 trailer doesn’t actually feature dialogue from any of the characters or scenes it shows:
Instead, the only vocals are a slow reading of Emily Dickinson’s poem 1263, “tell all the truth but tell it slant—”, woven into a strings-heavy musical track that builds the tension to a peak just before the last line of the poem falls.
“Sneaky Pete is so cleverly plotted that even the most obvious outcomes are imbued with tension,” the AV Club’s Kyle Fowle wrote in reviewing Season 2. We like to believe our musical contribution to its trailer, “Symbiosis” by Johnny Fiasco, does the same.
Not Ours, But We Love It Anyway: Yuengling’s ‘Spread Your Wings’ Campaign
We love our work and our clients. But sometimes we find work by other creative teams that we have to share, even though we didn’t have a hand in it.
Yuengling & Son’s recent “Spread Your Wings” ad is the work of agency Laughlin Constable, and it looks, at first glance, like a classic ad for a classic summer beer. The spot features shots from the brewery, images of the beer being poured, footage from the kind of carefree summer parties generations of beer enthusiasts associate with popping the top on a cold one.
Listen closely, though, and there’s a subtle genius to the choice of music. Beneath the voiceover touting the experience of a Yuengling lager is a backing track that sounds like the sort of classic rock that permeates backyard barbecues.
But it’s not. It’s “Elevate” by Boots Ottestad, a Nashville-based artist whose work has been featured in several ads and sought by several top musicians, but who hasn’t yet become a household name.
The promise? An experience to which millions of us automatically relate — a good beer and a good time. But it’s the tease that Yuengling “isn’t just a beer” that makes the promise compelling. Yuengling drinkers all recognize this. Perhaps no other brewery’s fans evangelize a beer so strongly. The fact that Yuengling’s enthusiastic fans make maps to help others find places where it’s sold underscores that point.
Sometimes, all you need to do is know your audience. The components of a good ad then just fall into place.
Image by: Corey Blaz