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The Influencers

Please, Do Touch the Artwork: Crafting the World’s Biggest Interactive Music Box

INFLUENCER: ECD at Saatchi & Saatchi Budapest Andrea Toth talks interactive advertising & the agency's latest work for Müpa

Please, Do Touch the Artwork: Crafting the World’s Biggest Interactive Music Box

Long gone are the days when creating a campaign was all about a piece to watch on TV. In the age of uploads, downloads and streams it’s become easier than ever to make interactive advertising. But aren’t we too isolated when scrolling only on our screens? Aren’t we missing out on the real stuff? 

Last year Saatchi & Saatchi Budapest won the pitch of Müpa, one of the best performance and concert venues in Budapest. They offer an eclectic variety of programs from classical music to children’s programs and pop concerts. The task was simple: let’s show youngsters that Müpa has something for their taste too. 

For agency creatives this has been a very inspiring brief: a well-defined target group, without heaps of product benefits. But selling art, especially genres of music was quite a challenge.

As interactive is all the rage for a younger audience, we could have made a mobile application or an online game. But isn’t that what they are doing anyway? 

Scrolling on their phones? With their earphones on? To get them out of that box, and make a real emotional connection music creates in life, we decided to give a real experience they can touch and feel – and not on their phone screens. As Müpa itself is all about a wide range of experiences, we needed to create a tangible, involving brand activation.

So the idea of the giant music box was born: a fully analogue device that lets the user spin a chosen tune by getting into the spinning wheel. Soon we’ve learnt however, that coming up with the idea was the easy part. Months were going by fast, the on air date was approaching, and there were times we thought an application wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all… Since nobody has done anything like this before, we had to design the object, create mock-ups, and torture test every little piece that would go into the final melody wheel. The production team searched high and low for the best materials to use, and contacted dozens of industrial companies to have the tiniest components tailor-made. From industrial rails to BMX brakes, no material was off limits. The melody canvases had been sourced from a truck canvas printing company, and the holes were punched manually as every millimeter had its exact place. (The Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt had some 400 holes.) 

Did I mention it’s an instrument? So it needed to sound good, too. For the sound comb, steel springs were imported form the US, which are amplified by hand crafted bamboo boxes. The making of the Müpa Melody Wheel took nearly a year from start to finish, but the first time we saw people’s faces as they climbed into it we knew: it was all worth it. 

The Melody Wheel had its debut the day I am writing these paragraphs – and like every experimental piece, this will need some fine-tuning, too. But that’s the beauty of it. We’ll always find parts that could have been done differently. The only thing that shouldn’t be different though is that we didn’t create an ad, but we created art for use. 

Finally something that we can touch, get into, listen to – without pushing buttons on a phone. And just because it’s out in the real world, it can very well have its own cyber life.

Andrea Toth is ECD at Saatchi & Saatchi Budapest