News & Views

Philips / Remix Carolyn

by Contagious Team

Electronics giant launches interactive music video game to promote music connection

As a part of its ongoing You Need To Hear This positioning, Dutch brand Philips has launched the latest campaign to promote its range of urban headphones. 

In the latest iteration of e campaign, Ogilvy & Mather, London has teamed up with UK dance-electro-pop band Swiss Lips to create an addictive interactive music video game for the band's latest single, 'Carolyn'. 

Designed to be played through (you guessed it) headphones, the 16-bit style game sees the band's lead singer Sam battle it out in a drag race with the evil Flame Gang to impress love interest Carolyn. Players use keyboard controls to direct Sam's car through several different scenes, with outcomes -- from Carolyn turning into a Zombie bride to leaving Sam brokenhearted for the Flame Gang leader -- dictated by the routes chosen. 

The song itself can be remixed by collecting musical icons on the road, picking up hitchhikers (other band members) and driving over road furniture to add layers to the original song. The game boasts seven different audio environments and custom created sound effects, all composed by Swiss Lips. Clips from the game are used in the band's music video. 

The remixed videos can be saved and shared to a leaderboard, where videos with the most views rise to the top of the league. For six weeks, those at the top of the board will receive prizes, such as band artwork and pairs of headphones, with one lucky winner gaining the chance to have their home kitted out with Philips audio equipment. 

The game was launched during an outdoor event at London's Broadway market, where it was was screened on a double billboard and passers-by were able to play through a live-connected, custom-built arcade machine. It is also promoted via the You Need To Hear This platform, in partnership with Vice's music channel, Noisey, an online channel which releases daily doses of exclusive content. 

The campaign follows an earlier activation, Tables You Need To Hear, where pub goers in Brixton, Shoreditch and Hackney in London could plug headphones into bespoke, hand made wooden tabletops and listen to trending music curated specifically for their neighbourhood.

Contagious spoke to Ivan PolsChris JoakimMike Donaghey and Olivia Rzepczynski from Ogilvy & Mather, London to find out a bit more about the You Need To Hear This positioning. 

Who is your target audience? 

Rzepczynski: The reason Philips is trying to do this is to connect with this whole younger target audience. They've always been quite well noted within the 35 plus demographic, with people who really care about every detail of sound, but when it comes to younger people, they think Philips makes hoovers and lightbulbs but never anything that's cool and that they really care about. So that's what Philips is trying to do now. 

Joakim: I guess the main difference in the targets here was that we kind of moved on from the fact that from Philips has always been concerned with sound. They've always been 'sound obsessed' and our target is 'music obsessed.' 

Rzepczynski: Previous campaigns have focused on sound, like Hear Every Detail. Now we're making the transition to the music space. 

What did you hope to gain from partnering with VICE? 

Rzepczynski: Clearly headphones is a massive business, there's a huge potential in that market. So that's why they came to us, and we conceived the You Need To Hear This campaign. But as we launched it we knew Philips needs some credibility, and maybe a partner to get some of that credibility, so that's where VICE came in to the mix, and specifically Noisey which is their music channel. The campaign is about new music in ways you've never heard it before. Noisey launched in the US almost two years ago as one of YouTube's original funded channels and it's now the second biggest music channel in the world behind Vevo, so they've built up a bit of credibility in that space that Phillips needs. 

Why have you decided to make this game? 

Rzepczynski: We have a great hub now. We're releasing daily content. We've had something like 900,000 unique visits to So we've got this traction going. We want to do something that creates a bit more of a bang for the campaign. Philips is leveraging the Noisey team and editorial. It has Philips branding in it, but obviously they are using a partner to create content and are leveraging other artists to do things. But we think Philips can do some cool stuff itself too. 

Pols: We wanted to create an audio experience that was entertaining, and gets Philips what it desperately needs, which is a little bit of credibility with the younger audience. 

When we won the business in September, the brand came to us with a distinct problem, mostly it's just that they're not relevant, people don't remember them. For anyone younger than 30, Philips does not mean sound, for them its Beats by Dre, Bose, Sennheiser, everyone else. Part of the work they've been doing involves a massive redesign, and our task is to get them back on the cultural map. That's why we did a deal with VICE  who have been good at is steering Philips in the right direction away from that classic corporate image. 

There have been so many different activations under You Need To Hear This. How are you ensuring that it remains cohesive?  

Pols: For us, it's really clear across everything: its great music, in ways you've never heard it before. So if that means listening to a table to hear great music, that's one way. If it's a game where  you create a video which you can share straight away, that's another way. It's about the kind of experience, not the delivery mechanism. We're just trying to be novel and interesting on fairly small budgets. 

Joakim: Our brief to ourselves for these projects is basically anytime we do anything across this platform, people should experience it and then say 'you need to hear this' to their friends. If it doesn't fit that criteria then it's broken.

Contagious Insight

Philips' attempts to align itself with a hip, urban audience are not far off the mark. The nostalgic feel of the game will undoubtedly appeal to a younger audience with whom the retro trend has had a massive revival. Plus, going into fashion-conscious areas of London to host activations is also a smart way to talk directly to the target market.

While this isn't the first interactive music video game we've seen, the detail in production and entertainment value do not disappoint, and the whole user experience feels very sophisticated - not to mention enjoyable. The campaign reminded us of this interactive video by Amsterdam-based prog-rock band Light Light for their single 'Kilo', which asked viewers to use their mouse cursor to follow particular pathways onscreen.

This experience, however, goes a lot deeper. The storylines and audio experiences are well crafted and enable a brilliant product demonstration, and the leader board function will help expand the the campaign's reach as people share their remixes.

This story originally appeared on Contagious Feed. Contagious Feed is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious Feed contact