Making Advertising Sound Real
Take a moment to breathe in the new identity of The University of Cincinnati.
What you may not know is that this ad, was not pulled together by chance. Every decision along the way was informed by a myriad of insights gathered by their marketing people, brand identity agency, production house, and us, the sound agency.
Let’s talk pre-pre-pre-production.
Before any meeting or concepting session, we did a deep dive into the music consumption patterns and trends of high school seniors. We were able to focus our research to the markets that The University of Cincinnati was targeting. This gave us a rulebook, so to speak, about what styles are on their way up, as well as what artists have had a foothold in the soon to be UC student’s ears. We also noticed a couple artists were disrupting the space in the alternative charts that had a hint of blues or even a minor attitude toward them… All of this fueled a piece of the decision making process for the production. Let’s face it, as much as each of us thinks we really have our finger on the pulse of pop culture, we really only know our own tiny corner of the music world. Even our crew has their hunches about what will work, but typically there is a moment that opens our eyes to what is right for the brand.
The concepting phase of the project included analyzing research that depicted how the University was perceived as well as how they would like to be viewed by the key stakeholders. This research was then actualized and brought to life via an offsite retreat, where creatives, and the brand agency fleshed out concepts that aligned with the University’s narrative. From here everyone aligned on 3 concepts that reinforced the brand’s equity as well as spoke to the prime prospect. These were socialized internally and a winner was chosen.
Putting it all Together
What about the sound? Up until this point, we were learning the listening patterns of soon to be students, immersing ourselves in the new identity of UC, and creating ways to communicate this to the viewer. Now we get to start the executional exploration, how these insights birth a sonic strategy, which determines the final musical pieces. This is where we took a cue from the Brandsonics process, determining the Sonic Identity from an understanding of the prospective student’s listening behavior, emotional connectors, and a fresh view of the University’s identity. Now, coupled with solid visual concepts, we could begin creating the new sound for the University of Cincinnati.
Not the same old “Pomp and Circumstance”
First, we decided that working with a “loop based” feel would be important for an organic relevance to prospective students, BUT that in itself would possibly alienate the University by speaking only to the prospective student with disregard for the University’s identity. So we established a blended musical approach that to connect the University and the prospective student, through the use of classic collegiate textures re-imagined in a contemporary arrangement. Leveraging what we learned about alt music trends, we wrote melodies that communicated the “experience” based grit the University is known for, while inspiring the next generation of students to do more.
The piece launched during the opening ceremony of the Olympics and the early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. What we didn’t expect was how proud the current student body is of their school’s new messaging. The powerful connection made was the result of lots of planning. Now we look forward to the long term results.
I thought I couldn’t feel any more pure happiness but then I see the @uofcincy commercial during the #OpeningCeremony.
— Chris (@KnitsByChris) August 6, 2016
The @uofcincy commercial during the Olympic opening ceremony has me even more excited for August 22nd.
— Karl with a K (@thelastdeerking) August 6, 2016
Seeing a commercial for my school @uofcincy has me so excited for these upcoming years!
— Tim Bizon (@tim_bizon) August 6, 2016