16 December 2021

Whose audio was awesome in 2021?

Expert comment
As the experts in all things audio, we wanted to take a look back over the last 12 months and give credit where it’s due.

Across the world, brands big and small have used audio effectively in a number of ways; whether that’s to draw attention to their brand or improve the customer experience at every step of the customer’s journey. It’s a vital part of the modern marketing mix – and encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, extending beyond music to include voice artistry and scripting, sound effects, ambient sound – and even playlists.

Here are some of our top picks from 2021.

 

Apple

We can’t talk about Apple without mentioning ‘Start up’, a song it commissioned using only start-up noises from across its 45-year history.

The full 1:42 clip shows the process of composing the song, which is not dissimilar to the process we follow when composing tracks for clients.

But we really wanted to talk about the outstanding short film, ‘The whole work-from-home thing’. Coming in at a lengthy 6:56, it’s not designed for traditional over-the-top broadcast, but instead lives online.

It’s terrific. The script is perfectly judged and the story incorporates lots of recognisable bongs, chimes and other sounds that Apple users will know well; we don’t often think of alert and start-up noises as branding, but they very much are.

Reuniting the cast of 2019’s ‘The Underdogs’ and reimagined for a new work-from-home world, the pacing is excellent; the storyline naturally integrates Apple’s breadth of products without always calling them out obviously (spot the desktop iMac), and introduces little-known features and capabilities to existing users – all wrapped in an all-too-familiar scene that neatly captures the idea that Apple is there with you, not just for you.

 

Sekonda

Britain’s best-selling watch brand has adopted a distinctly ‘to-the-point’ tone of voice for their new campaign, ‘No time for nonsense’.

The TV spots are particularly great, which is why we’ve picked the campaign to feature here. They lean on tropes of the genre and feature a tight script that pokes fun at luxury brands; the excellent voice casting is the cherry on top. It’s bold and unexpected, and we’re big fans.

Becks

The German beer brand faced a challenge: how to get consumers in Brazil used to the flavour of its beer, which is more bitter than local tastes are accustomed to.

The answer, unbelievably, lies in sound. Playing low-frequency sound waves alters the perception of bitter flavours, so Becks filmed an experiment with users drinking a generic beer – changing the frequency repeatedly, and altering the flavour from one sip to the next.

It has to be seen to believed – and audiences at home were invited to try it for themselves, courtesy of a microsite. In doing so, Becks got consumers trying their beer, by drinking what they already had in their fridge, demonstrating the power of sound overcoming another sensory experience.

 

Zara

According to TikTok’s own research, 73% of users will stop and look at ads with audio, and an example of this is embodied by the Spanish fashion retail giant Zara. They’ve given a masterclass in how to use TikTok this year.

As a distinctly ‘sound on’ platform, they’ve tapped into ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) trends and outsourced the creation of 3D animated clips to external ‘Zara Creators’.

By ensuring to jump on the latest trends, Zara has shown themselves as trailblazers in the world of audio advertising.

@zara Press for pink #zara #zaracreators #asmr Thank you @Marble Mannequin ♬ original sound – ZARA

 

Tennis Australia

Tennis Australia, responsible for organising and promoting tennis tournaments across the country, used an existing technology in a new way to help visually-impaired viewers enjoy the game.

Broadcast sport relies heavily on visuals, with commentators often unable to keep up with the rapid-fire action on the tennis court in particular. To overcome this problem, Tennis Australia used information provided by ball-tracking technology, which it already used to judge line calls, to create Action Audio.

This brilliant innovation automatically adds sound effects in real time, to communicate the trajectory and the position of the ball, giving people with sight-loss the ability to track a point without relying on commentators. It’s a total game-changer for 300 million people worldwide, with applications far beyond tennis.

 

We’d also like to briefly mention a few other examples…

 

Barilla

The Italian pasta brand helped consumers in its home market cook the perfect al dente pasta – thanks to Spotify. It created a series of playlist timers ranging in length from 9 to 11 minutes, named to reflect the different pasta shapes Barilla sells.

 

Zillow

The American online property marketplace created a 60-second clip that ran as a pre-roll ad on YouTube. We enjoyed its effective script that puts a neat twist on an inner monologue.

 

The Hundred

The England & Wales Cricket Board needed an impactful campaign to launch this new 100-ball format to audiences across the UK.

Conscious of the sport’s genteel image and keen to attract a new, younger and more urban audience, its graphic broadcast execution featured an up-tempo dance track by popular DJ Jax Jones – a great way of subliminally signposting the intended audience.

 

Lego

Lego’s Australian arm launched Playwaves, a Google Voice Assistant skill that uses at-home smart speakers to inspire children’s play with stories, original music and sound effects.

It’s an immersive digital experience that doesn’t rely on screens, leaving children’s eyes and hands free to create with Lego. Search ‘Lego Playwaves’ on Vimeo to check it out!

 

Wondering how your brand could use audio effectively in 2022? Speak to one of our audio branding experts.

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