Your Shot: MassiveMusic Hits 2 Billion Viewers with Premier League Sonic Branding
The Premier League returned to global TV screens last week, and with it came a crisp new look and sound to match. A visual rebrand by design agency DixonBaxi has been supported by a complete audio revamp of all of the league’s international broadcast shows, carried out by the team at MassiveMusic. They worked alongside DixonBaxi on the musical concept and ended up basing it around three key elements: the global community that surrounds the Premier League; the requirement for a contemporary feel; and the emotion stemming from the ‘theatre’ of the game. Their work is set to hit the ears of more than two billion people around the world.
LBB’s Addison Capper chatted with Paul Reynolds, Managing Director of MassiveMusic London, Roscoe Williamson, Head of Branding UK at MassiveMusic, and Producer Tim Preston to find out more.
LBB> What inspired the overarching sound identity and why is fitting for the Premier League?
ROSCOE> The Premier League underwent a radical visual overhaul early this year resulting in an ultra contemporary look. Clearly, the initial objective was to represent this brave new identity in sound. The development of the sonic identity was based around three key elements: the global community that surrounds the Premier League, the requirement for a contemporary feel, and the emotion stemming from the ‘theatre’ of the game. We discovered these elements during our initial research of the brand, its fans, and its new direction. The elements dictated the creative direction from then on.
LBB> How does it set the Premier League apart from other sporting organisations?
PAUL> Part of our sonic branding process is to review the landscape, to have a look at what the neighbours are doing. It became clear that other leagues all pretty much sounded the same so there was a clear opportunity for the Premier League to differentiate itself and own a space in music. For the Premier League, the contemporary new sound was all about looking forward, getting excited, feeling ready for what is to come, rather than aiming to be part of the crowd that sounded overly grand, expensive, and a little disjointed from the real fan.
LBB> How does it fit in with the Premier League’s ‘We Will Make It’ tagline?
TIM> A part the music and sound production process included us visiting a Premier League match at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane, and recording actual sounds of the players, the crowd, the general ambience, and also some unexpected bits like the tapping of boots in the tunnel, the voice of a programme seller, the clunk of the turnstiles. These are sounds we all hear and make when we experience football first-hand, adding a direct link between the fan and the sonic identity. We also added human elements to the main theme – real voices and real instruments that represent the huge range of fans from around the world.
LBB> How did you work alongside design agency DixonBaxi on this project?
PAUL> We have a great relationship with DixonBaxi, stemming from various successful broadcast rebrands over the past few years to our recent collaboration on the complete rebrand and quite radical modernisation of Eurosport. Our relationship is very open and we play on each other's strengths, helping each other where we can with a common goal to make the very best work. For this project we (at MassiveMusic) enjoyed an open dialogue with both DixonBaxi and their client from the very beginning, ensuring that our creative ideas developed together, saving time and ensuring a clear focus on the end goal (no pun intended).
LBB> Football fans can be painfully nostalgic – did this play on your mind at all when developing the new identity?
TIM> Football is a very nostalgic sport and this is often represented in sound. Take the Champions League theme for example – this really plays on the feeling of a grand history. The Premier League is all about the new age of football but we wanted to avoid the musical clichés and traps of being 'nostalgic' or 'new'. Especially in a world of £89 million transfers, we had to ensure that the Premier League felt relatable and personal. As a result, the music retains a sense of human nostalgia yet utilises very modern production styles and techniques.
LBB> I understand this project was a bit of a juggling act between your network of composers. How did you pull it off and what was involved?
TIM> This project was a real test of our growing global network. We needed to use the full breadth of our composer network and at any one time we had up to six composers from around the world working on the project. Creatively, we went through many research stages, and for that we utilised the wide-ranging creative services available from our other offices. Without the luxury of this global skill-base, projects like this can prove to be very difficult to resource.
LBB> This project will reach two billion viewers worldwide – what kind of pressure comes with that? Is this Massive’s most heard project to date?
PAUL> It is expected to reach over 2.7 billion viewers every week and of course with that comes some pressure, but this pressure is on getting the right sound for this incredibly diverse market. This could well be Massive's most heard project and also one of the most creatively challenging. We had 5.4 billion ears to please!
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
TIM> The greatest difficulty came at the pinch point in the production process. For the Premier League's global broadcast, we needed to produce 11 different show packages that were all based around the main sonic identity. Keeping these varied enough to avoid viewer and broadcast fatigue whilst ensuring that they were all recognisable as part of the Premier League brand presented its challenges. The resulting 'sub-themes' ended up very varied, from rock to electronica to trap to breakbeat – the variety of sound using the common theme was quite extreme.
LBB> Why is a sonic identity so important for a brand these days, in an age when their content is delivered across so many touchpoints?
PAUL> Brands are making so much noise, more so than ever, and it's becoming increasingly difficult for a brand to be heard in a coherent way. A clear sonic identity that is fully embraced by a brand and utilised in all their touchpoints can bring so many benefits.
To start with you have the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and be remembered. You hear the identity and you are immediately transported to the place where you 'touched' the brand. By adopting a strategy like the Premier League, of being bold and different, you have this opportunity to own a space in sound – like the Premier League does. You become coherent across all your touchpoints, your brand is heard and the recognition is reinforced every time it is subsequently heard. It seems obvious but it's often forgotten that over time you can build up a huge amount of brand equity in a sonic brand. A brand can trigger certain emotions by using music and/or sound that elicit these emotions. This is incredibly powerful when you want people to feel a certain way when they experience your brand.
ROSCOE> With the right strategic approach to sonic branding, a brand can save considerable amounts of time and money, creating ownable assets that can be utilised by agency partners, in some cases lessening the need for expensive and sometimes randomly chosen commercial music. A brand's partners can also benefit from a clear direction in sound, saving time at campaign level, and for brands with a global reach, a consistent identity can be achieved across all markets.
As a brand taking part in our sonic branding process, you go on a bit of a journey and can discover things about your brand that you didn't know before – like how you currently sound and what the perception of the brand is due to the way music has been used. In some cases a brand discovers a huge amount about its own history as we immerse ourselves in their world.
PAUL> All of this ultimately helps a brand generate two rather important things: more sales and more profit.
Category: Events , Sports and leisure
Genre: Music & Sound Design