the power of sound: audio drives award winning work at the 2013 cannes lions

IMG_2832When it comes to advertising awards, nothing matches the prestige (or the intensity) of  the Cannes Lions.

This year a record 35,765 entries from 92 countries were submitted to the Cannes Lions 60th International Festival of Creativity, making it the largest and most prestigious global awards event for creative advertising and communications.

You can certainly debate the relevance of award shows, but researchers Les Binet and Peter Field found that creatively-awarded campaigns are, on average, ten times more effective.

Knowing the power of sound to shape brand identity, enhance consumer engagement and increase brand awareness, it comes as no surprise that audio driven work (both strategically and creatively) takes home its share of “Lions.”  As technology continues to create new ways of closing the sonic gap between brands and their audience, we’re convinced that the strategic use of sound will play an increasingly important role in brand marketing.

We’re writing this post from Cannes, where we’re only a few days into the Festival. Already, we’re seeing the importance of sound as a key component of effective advertising. Here’s a sampling of five winners that we think stood out from the crowd:

BUND: “Tree Concert” was an initiative conceived and produced by BBDO Germany / Ketchum Pleon to increase awareness about Berlin’s shrinking chestnut tree population. After selecting a large chestnut tree in Monbijoupark, a number of polymer structures were installed at its base. Each of the structures was designed to respond to the impact of falling chestnuts with sound and light effects, so that through the course of the installation, the tree actually produced a musical performance. People were able to interact with the installation and ultimately encouraged to donate to the cause via an SMS text. The results? With up to 500 visitors a day, donations to the BUND fund jumped 800%. In addition, a remix compilation of the performance was produced and released on iTunes, with the proceeds continuing to help the effort. Not only was the campaign a successful fund raiser, but it captured Gold (for Charity and Nonprofit) and Bronze (for Best Use of Live Events and Stunts) Lions in the PR category.

Kontor Records: Kontor partnered with OgilvyAction Düsseldorf to solve the problem of how to promote new DJ tracks to the adverting industry. How do you break through the clutter of everything the comes across the desk of a creative director? Simple. Send them your music on vinyl. But how many creative directors have turntables in their offices? No problem. A smartphone and a QR code (you can actually demo it here) allows you to “play” the record on the mailer in which it was sent. The result? 71% of the 900 Turntable QR codes were activated and 42% followed a link to the Kontor Online Store. To top it off, the promotion took home a Gold Lion in the Media Division for Best Use of Audio.

Lincoln Motor Company: Hudson Rouge’s “Hello Again” campaign was a study in congruency – a strategic use of audio to communicate the “re-imagining” of the Lincoln brand. By encouraging listeners to hear a familiar song in an entirely new way, the audience is cognitively primed to see Lincoln from an entirely new perspective. Hudson Rouge worked with composer Beck, director Chris Milk, and to completely re-imagine an online concert experience. They developed new, proprietary technologies that included 360º cameras, a series of binaural audio heads, and facial tracking via web cameras to deliver a ground breaking sound and vision experience. The final online experience allowed Lincoln to combine Beck’s image as a visionary with a unique cover of the David Bowie classic, “Sound and Vision”, using them both to create a fresh, innovative identity for the brand. The result? A 300% increase in traffic to the Lincoln website where visitors logged over 3,000,000 minutes interacting with the content – not to mention winning three Lions in the Cyber Lions category: Gold for Automotive, Gold for Best Use of Music/Sound Design, and Bronze for User Experience.

Absolut Vodka: Absolut and SANCHO BBDO, along with media agency PHD Columbia, asked the question, “What does Absolut sound like?” The brand activated consumers through a creative combination of music, radio, artists, neuroscience and technology. Absolut created a radio show in Columbia focused on electronic music where none existed before. Using social media channels and a custom designed Facebook app, fans were asked by DJs to create their own remixed versions of the branded “Absolut Greyhound” theme created by Swedish House Mafia. The remixes were evaluated by the DJs, with the winning remix (as determined by the DJs neurological response to each of the entries) landing its producer a trip to Stockholm to assist SHM in concert. In an extension of the campaign, a fashion designer created a collection inspired by the sounds of Absolut and presented the collection at the nation’s biggest fashion event (ColumbiaModa2012). The result? A sales jump of 26% for the brand, Facebook fans tripled, Twitter followers doubled, over 2,000 minutes of video interaction was recorded, and the remix app reached a peak of 14% engagement. Add to that a Silver Lion in the Best Use of Integrated Media Category.

Metro Trains: McCann Melbourne worked with Melbourne’s Metro Trains to create a unique public service announcement that would reduce train related accidents. The campaign was fueled by a catchy little ditty called “Dumb Ways to Die.” The song, created by the agency, was attributed to a fictitious artist dubbed “Tangerine Kitty.” An animated video was created for the music and then posted on YouTube. The result? Within a week, the video had been viewed 20 million times (it’s currently approaching 50 million hits). Within a month, it had captured so much attention it landed in Google’s 2012 Zeitgeist. It became the most shared public service campaign in history, with the song charting on iTunes in 28 countries and played on radio stations worldwide. Even more importantly, there was a 21% reduction in accidents and deaths – with 39% or the core audience (13-25 year olds) reporting that they would act safer around trains. As of this writing, “Dumb Ways to Die” has taken two Grand Prix awards in the PR and Direct categories and a Gold Lion in the Promo and Activation category. No doubt there’s more to come!

UPDATE: 06.19.13: “Dumb Ways to Die” just won a Grand Prix in the Radio category, making a total of three Grand Prix awards

UPDATE: 06.21.13: Still going: To date, “Dumb Ways to Die” has garnered 23 Cannes Lions, including three Grand Prix awards, 17 Gold Lions, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze

FINAL UPDATE: 06.22.13: “Dumb Ways to Die” racked up an unprecedented five Grand Prix awards (Film, Radio, PR, Direct, and Integrated) making it the most successful ad campaign in the history of the Cannes International Festival of Creativity.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] are making in music in more detail because their clients are demanding more transparency. If as Steve Keller from IV Audio Branding mentioned this week, music helps to bring in awards at Cannes and put a few dollars in our […]

  2. […] the topic of audio branding The power of sound: audio drives award winning work at the 2013 cannes lions is an interesting report by Steve Keller of how Sound was used by the five winners of Cannes […]

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