Our Thoughts: Use of Music/Sound Design Winners at Cannes 2014


Following a very successful trip to Cannes we have some insight to bring back for our fellow Cord team members (and for any interested reader).

It goes without saying that strong advertising and creative content should contain at least one the following elements: use of data, storytelling and consumer experience. However, the application of music to the content is what’s really indispensable. Music has the ability to make us cry, laugh, jump and give us goosebumps. The winners of this year’s Cannes Lions for Best Use of Music/Sound Design have done just that, and we will tell you why:

What is most remarkable about this campaign is the simple but perfectly executed idea. Adding music to words. However it is not the usual “Auto-tune the News” approach where random audio is forced into a melody. This is about finding the musical quality within the speech and adding a musical instrument to enhance it. No extreme auto-tune, no extreme manipulation. As basic as the piano might sound, it is well thought out and cleverly composed.

As Radio Euskadi rightly state: ‘When breaking news, it’s always better with music’.

Volvo “Tracks” – SILVER

Enya’s track is every bit as epic as the advert itself. It could have gone wrong (so wrong). But thanks to Enya’s music it’s a delicate balance between cheesy and amazing. This is a good example of how to get the elements just right. The flow and softness of “Only Time” accompanies a scene featuring two monstrous Volvo trucks and Jean Claude Van Damme. It takes us to a meditation state and a strange world where Enya rules supreme!

Two lessons here: 1) Never underestimate any music genre and 2) Avoid stereotypes: with an action movie star and trucks a lot of people might have gone for something heavier. But this ad just wouldn’t have had the same effect had they used Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” …

Fiona Apple’s cover of “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film classic ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ has a weird quality that makes it inspiring and depressing at the same time. Depending how you look at it (the half empty, half full approach) the lyrics can persuade you to have a look at the colourful landscapes of creativity and positivity surrounding you.

On the other hand it can give you a slap in the face and let you know that reality is hard and the only way to be happy is if you create a better world in your head.

Chipotle used this to convey the mood of the two worlds with just one song.

It is interesting to hear that the use of harmonic progression and instrumentation make this song go from dark to bright. The vocals and pace are the same all along.  The song starts in the dark, fake world, and not surprisingly the instrumentation is mostly programmed, synths and “fake” strings. There is nothing natural or organic except for the voice. Very fitting with the Scarecrow’s point of view.

Once he discovers the red pepper and decides to go for a natural approach, the song is now played by a real, full orchestra. All organic, just like the story’s characters. Quite appropriate.

Procter & Gamble – BRONZE

‘Primavera’ by Ludovico Einaudi is the perfect licensed track for this two-minute P&G spot characterised by emotion, care and a sense of achievement. As accompaniment for the storytelling of the triumphs and struggles of Olympic winners, ‘Primavera’ sets the tone for this P&G spot perfectly. The tone they are going for is: “We will make you cry, if it is the last thing I do”. Einaudi’s music has the perfect elements to achieve just that. The piano, the strings, the sadness and melancholy. It also has the right pace to go with the fast paced visual edit of kids’ undying drive and determination. The music editing is beautiful and it tells the story along with the visuals, with no voice over needed in almost two minutes! And that is the power of music.



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