When I was asked to pick five examples of fantastic current sound design, I immediately thought of how I had been noticing a trend of minimal sound design as a powerful way to differentiate creative output. Not that minimal hasn’t worked wonders in the past, but I find that most sound-heavy creative work tends to go BIG to get attention and retention. Realising that we are in a period of incredible stimuli from devices of all kinds - to both our eyes and our ears - I love this approach to use nuance and subtlety to stand out...
MLB - 'Ohtani Delivers the Zen'
The entire series of MLB 'Zen' spots
are just incredible. They use different levels of doing so, but by slowing down the game and isolating specific sounds (bat dropping, crowd, cleats hitting the dirt) it comes through on the app as a breath amidst the big, loud highlight reels all around it.
Airbnb - 'Islands: Voicemail'
Sound: Barking Owl
I find that most travel and leisure advertising is the same. Or at least it fits into two categories. It’s normally either “Hey look at us, we’re having an AMAZING TIME!! GET HERE!!” or it’s “Look at your usual life, it’s boring and sad, so why not get away and do something awesome for yourself?!”. Somehow, this spot does both in the simplest of ways. By choosing to have the only audio be a typical droning phone ring, followed by the robot automated voice mail, is powerful over all of the images of people having the time of their lives, while not answering the phone. Simple, effective, fun.
Squarespace - 'The Singularity'
Director: Aoife McArdle
Post: Final Cut x Black Kite Studios
Sound: Q Department x Heard City
It feels a little like cheating to put a Super Bowl spot in here, but I really appreciated this commercial for doing its best to be art in the form of commerce. Borrowing from a number of science fiction film and TV tropes (and Adam Driver), the soundtrack also borrows the simple, analog soundscapes that became vogue thanks to 'Stranger Things'. The absurd becomes art.
Bud Light - 'Easy to Drink, Easy to Enjoy'
Agency: Anomaly New York
Production: RESET Content
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Post: The Mill New York
Editorial: Arcade Edit NY
Sound: Wave Studios
Ok, another Super Bowl commercial. And this one I debated. I think the concept of taking a song we’ve all heard (usually under duress) and remixing it to make it a danceable piece is the highlight of this commercial. Yes, they put celebrities in there dancing - so that helps - but honestly, it could have been anyone and it would have been a fantastic concept born of a song being reborn. My only critique of this one is that I wish they went bolder and bigger with the song, but hey, it’s a :60!
Apple - 'The Greatest'
Director: Kim Gehrig
Apple has been one of the best marketing brands in the last two decades, as we know. They also happen to be one of the best taste-makers when it comes to sound and music. The message is the hero of this spot of course, showing how Apple products can improve the lives of everyone through unique capabilities. The way they show it here with most of the audio being real Siri responses mixed with an epic track, feels to me like what longer form commercials do when they are at their best. They showcase the product, reinforce the brand’s ethos, highlight great creative and make the audio the star.