From triggering recall to enhancing storytelling, music and sound play an important role in media and marketing, becoming an essential asset to brands. Both in the advertising and the branding worlds, music is the common denominator if you want to convey emotions.
To explore the future and power of music in advertising, MassiveMusic London spearheads ‘Sonic Iconic’, a series on LBB that invites boundary-pushing British creatives to explore the theme.
In this interview, producer Alfie Glover Short, of The &Partnership London, reveals how to know if you’re onto a winning score.
LBB> Outside of work, what music do you listen to, where do you listen to it and why?
Alfie> I’ve grown up with siblings who created and burned playlists onto tape/CD to soundtrack that year’s family holiday. There was an art to satisfying everyone’s tastes without resorting to the lowest common denominator. Orders and transitions were all meticulously planned: 2012 was my crowning glory. Nowadays, anything and everything can end up on one of my many Spotify playlists; from Talking Heads, to Sugababes, to a Mica Levi film score.
LBB> Sound is more important than ever right now, with so many new touchpoints available for a brand to live in. Do you think brands are being creative enough with sound?
Alfie> In my experience, there are still a healthy number of brands and clients who have blinkers on a safe, populist track and nothing else. However, so long as sound is discussed early enough in the process, brands can surprise you. For instance, last autumn I produced a brand campaign for British Gas centred around DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s ‘Turn Down for What?’ The idea hinged on juxtaposing the epic soundtrack with mundane, everyday acts of sustainability. Fortunately, the clients were fully engaged with the music from the initial creative presentation, even if there were some interesting conversations around the track’s full lyrics and music video… Obviously, there is more to sound than music. I think agencies have a duty to help clients appreciate the full potential of audio production and get them excited by good sound design.
LBB> What is your approach to setting a music brief for a campaign?
Alfie> Getting creatives, supervisors and composers together on a call is invaluable – a great deal can be lost in translation over email. I also really value my sound designer’s input. They are often a step ahead of me when it comes to knowing what a film needs to elevate it and can distil rambling agency thoughts into clearly articulated, rational arguments.
LBB> Music is scientifically proven to evoke emotion. Do you often think about or measure the effectiveness of music?
Alfie> If you’re still happily singing along to the track by your last sound session, you’re usually onto something good.
LBB> New social platforms like TikTok are inspiring musical trends all over the world. In advertising the need to quickly engage consumers has never been more important. What are your tips for using music to quickly grab people’s attention?
Alfie> TikTok is proof that, when paired with the right content, unexpected tracks can blow up, no matter the style or how old they are. Given the opportunities this opens up, brands can afford to focus on how they want to be positioned. They can then build out a music strategy from this to make valuable, and potentially unexpected, content. More importantly they also have the luxury to have a bit of fun! I otherwise deleted TikTok after the algorithm realised I was gay and only served me shirtless men dancing: apparently that’s the way to quickly grab my attention.
LBB> What would you like to happen with music for advertising in the next couple of years?
Alfie> I’d like to see a greater push towards using music talent from underrepresented backgrounds. This, and Just Eat partnering with Lil Nas X – watching him slide down a pole onto a hell-fried chicken zinger burger would be ‘chef’s kiss’...