News & Views

Opinion / Audio As Idea

by Contagious Contributor
Fresh from judging the Cresta Awards, creative director Jeremy Garner finds that audio is a powerful creative starting point for the Grand Prix winners

‘How can audio be used to deepen the experience’ is an often-asked question in digital marketing, but what about when audio constitutes the actual idea itself?

I was helping out with some awards jury service recently and, having finally finished, decided to look back over the scoresheet to see which entries had particularly stood out.

I’m no data planner, but it was interesting to see that there was a pattern emerging: most of the entries that I deemed interesting or powerful shared a common thread. In all of them, the audio aspect wasn’t just noteworthy or engaging. It was the idea.

Take this first example, for an insurance company in the Nordic region, which also appeared in D&AD this year, and claimed Cresta’s Integrated, Interactive and Direct Grand Prix. It’s based around a pretty simple notion. That is, when a driver enters an area with a high concentration of children, such as the location of a school, the voice of the satnav changes to that of a child to cut-through, disrupt and make the driver think. 

The work, by Forsman and Bodenfors, is an interesting combination of GPS / real-world / digital, and a crowdsourcing angle allows people to add further locations, but it’s the centrality of audio – and its emotive connotations – which is the powerful thing here.

Of course, no examination of the power of audio within brand comms could omit a piece about music. There’s been much written over the years about exactly why music resonates so powerfully, and can be effective in locking brand associations into consumers’ brains. But it’s the haunting, melancholic sparseness – the despair, if you like – of the noises and resulting tracks from the melting icecaps in this campaign (Iceberg Songs by Serviceplan, Munich) that let this work linger on in the mind.

It rather reminds me of an old, and no less powerful, campaign for Tate Modern in which tracks were written after being inspired by certain artworks. It’s totally different, but the sense of how the imagination is ignited due to audio being framed in an unexpected way is reminiscent.

Lastly, there’s an example which is, to me at least, noteworthy simply because of the breadth of the audio content involved – and how sound can be used to directly represent experiences and, in turn, destinations. It’s for Thalys, a European train company, by Rosapark, Paris, and won Cresta’s Outdoor and Design Grand Prix. It serves to remind that, when it comes to creating memories, audio can prove highly motivational to potential travellers by stimulating some very vivid images indeed.