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2017: listening back to another year in audio

Posted by Olivia Howlett - Head of Audio Branding at PHMG on

2017 has been another strong year in the world of audio branding, with technological advancements and ever-more creative composition resulting in some spectacular sounds. So join us as we take a look back at some of the most memorable audio campaigns this year.

Music has always been a powerful tool in audio branding, which makes it the perfect place to start for our review of 2017. This year has seen several brands develop innovative compositions unique to their business, including Adidas (who characterised their Original is Never Finished campaign with a reinvention of Frank Sinatra’s My Way), and the leading airline Cathay Pacific. They created a truly memorable piece which incorporated all the sounds we hear as we travel – from airport to airplane to touchdown. The piece formed the backdrop to a video showing a traveller on their way to Hong Kong, reflecting the brand’s message: ‘when we travel well, the world unfolds – not only before our eyes, but all our senses.’ And as well as encompassing the idea of travel, a track also managed to represent an entire country. To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, the founders of the CanadaSound project asked people to submit sounds that represent their nation. Then, they created a track incorporating all these elements, resulting in a piece that encompassed the past, present and proud identity of Canada.

Not only used to characterise a brand, music can also be used to influence our behaviour – a feature Toyota made use of in their innovative dangerous driving campaign. Their ‘Safe and Sound’ app encouraged young drivers to stay safe on the roads by blocking all social media posts, so they won’t be disturbed while driving. And most remarkably, if the driver begins to speed, a playlist the parents have chosen will play, embarrassing the young driver in front of their passengers, and urging them to slow down.

But it wasn’t just music that made a difference in 2017 – advances in sound technology have allowed advertisers to apply audio in increasingly sophisticated ways. Interactive VoD (video on demand) was introduced to the market this year, enabling advertisers to incorporate viewers’ names in the audio of their campaign – a technique which really caught the ear of consumers. And in Spotify’s latest development, they targeted listeners with ads based on where they walk. When a listener passes within 500 metres of an O2 out-of-home poster site, their device is logged, triggering direct audio ads that are relevant to the billboard they’ve just seen – a practice known as proximity marketing.

While music and audio tech made an impact, above all else, 2017 was the year of voice. The take-off and adoption of personal assistants gave Google, Amazon and Apple a vocal identity – paving the way for this to become a valuable part of all manner of brands. Companies now need to redefine themselves in this new dimension, considering whether their speaker should be masculine or feminine, neutral or regional, youthful or mature – ensuring their voice is a true reflection of their identity. And while this tech explosion was making waves in marketing, other advertisers were also using voice to powerful effect. Ahead of the Lego Batman’s release, the character took over Channel 4’s announcements – with 18 original animations voiced by comedian Will Arnett gracing the idents. In doing this, Channel 4 aligned itself with the film at the height of its pre-release campaign, presenting itself as a creative, of-the-moment broadcaster.

It’s been another exciting year in the wonderful world of audio, and with all that’s occurred this year, we’re excited to see – and hear – what 2018 will bring.




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