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HSBC & JWT London Bring the Sounds of the Yangtze River to Gatwick

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Ground-breaking interactive audio installation celebrates 15 year partnership with WWF

HSBC & JWT London Bring the Sounds of the Yangtze River to Gatwick

J. Walter Thompson and HSBC have brought one of the world’s longest rivers to the sky by creating ambitious and unique soundscape activation in Gatwick Airport’s never before used Sky Bridge, called ‘A Living River’.

The installation, the world’s longest and most advanced soundscape in an airport, gives travellers the chance to experience the authentic sounds of the 6,300 km river in rich detail as they head on their journey.

In the Skybridge, just like along the Yangtze River, the sounds react to the time of the day, the weather on the Yangtze and even the movements of the travellers. It is designed to give a unique journey no matter how many times you travel down the Skybridge. 

The installation features over a 100 of hours of authentic sounds taken directly from 35 locations on the Yangtze. The sounds ebb and flow across the Skybridge, transmitted by 160 speakers through 80 channels to immerse travellers in 3D sound. The installation is made possible by over 60,000m of speaker cable - the length of 584 football pitches.

The idea for the installation and eventual sound experience were both created by J. Walter Thompson London in collaboration with JWT Live, the in-house event and experiential team. The wall of colourful imagery, shot along the Yangtze River, compliments the sounds travellers hear as they travel from one side of China to the other - from the First Bend of the Yangtze to the mouth near Shanghai and showcases the beautiful wildlife, nature and the millions of people who call the river home.  

HSBC and WWF have been working together to tackle conservation challenges across the world by helping to support communities, businesses and nature. The HSBC Water Programme is the latest phase of the partnership between WWF and HSBC, helping to safeguard freshwater resources across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The soundscape was created in partnership with sound designer Nick Ryan. Nick is widely recognised as a leading thinker on sound creation and performance. He has won multiple awards including a Clio Gold for Nike 360 'Control' and a BAFTA for 'The Dark House' BBC Interactive Radio Drama.

To construct this soundscape an innovative recording approach was used. Instead of just recording individual components such as wildlife or human sounds and then creating a soundscape, JWT captured multi-channel spatial recordings on the Yangtze in 35 locations. Microphone arrays were also used to capture incredible detail and match how the agency recorded the sounds to how it would be heard on the Skybridge. 

Chris Clark, HSBC Group Head of Marketing said: "Our popular jet bridge advertising in airports has been a powerful medium for our Brand. Our new Gatwick Skybridge installation pushes the boundaries of our Brand experience at the airports further. It's a chance for us to share some of the investment and initiatives we've undertaken as part of our HSBC Water Programme, this is a cornerstone of our Sustainability commitments and involves thousands of people at HSBC around the world who demonstrate our commitment to the environment and the communities that we serve."

John Barker, Head of WWF-UK’s India and China Programmes, said: “This installation is a spectacular celebration of the Yangtze and the huge impact WWF has had in protecting the river since 2002, with the support of HSBC. We hope people will be inspired to learn more about the Yangtze’s rich natural heritage, its unique biodiversity and the hundreds of millions of people who depend on a healthy river for their livelihoods.” 

Jonathan Terry, Head of JWT Live, said: “HSBC has been synonymous with airports for many years; we looked to airports to bring to Life HSBC’s water programme, pushing the boundaries of HSBC’s airside advertising, and current technology. How best to tell the story of a 6000 km river and millions of people, in an airport? With sound.”

Nick Ryan, Sound Designer, said: "I believe that sound, and the act of listening, can entirely transform our sense of 'place' and thus, ourselves. I wanted to design a highly immersive audio installation that could 'relocate' listeners, for an instant, to the banks of the Yangtze River, with a tangible, 'first person' sensory experience of its pace, beauty and diversity. Using ground breaking technical and creative approaches to audio, and audio technology, we’ve created a spellbinding journey down an evolving, responsive and ‘Living River'."

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Print / OOH

Photographer: Sam Barker


Sound Design: Nick Ryan and Laurence Greed, (Technical) Davey Williamson

Production Company

Director: Nick Ryan

Creative Agency

Creative Agency: J. Walter Thompson London

Creative Group Head: (JWT Live) Jonathan Terry

Creatives: (Lead) Tom O’Donnell, Jessica Weeks, Jo Taylor

Executive Creative Director: (Global) Axel Chaldecott

Global Director in Charge: Joseph Petyan

Planner: Adam Lotz

Producer: Yusi Cheng

Project Director: Tom O’Donnell

Genres: Music & Sound Design

Categories: Finance, Banking

Wunderman Thompson London, Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:40:54 GMT