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“Sound Has Always Been, and Will Always Be, Fundamental”

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Tom Drew, executive creative director at Wunderman Thompson, on the impact and integrity of musical accompaniment

“Sound Has Always Been, and Will Always Be, Fundamental”

From triggering recall to enhancing storytelling, music and sound play an important role in media and marketing, becoming an essential asset to brands. Both in the advertising and the branding worlds, music is the common denominator if you want to convey emotions.

To explore the future and power of music in advertising, MassiveMusic London spearheads ‘Sonic Iconic’, a new series on LBB, inviting boundary-pushing British creatives to explore the theme.

In this interview, Tom Drew, executive creative director at Wunderman Thompson, discusses changing production budgets, experiential sound design and his joy at finally being granted the opportunity to use the ‘Are you being served?’ theme tune in a commercial. 


LBB> Outside of work, what music do you listen to, where do you listen to it and why? 

Tom> Radio 4 and 5 Live dominates my home audio, so I rely on work to be exposed to new music. I’m often in creative reviews being presented ideas that include some new artist’s work. Only then to be informed that the music was from 2012 or something. On. The. Pulse.


LBB> Sound is more important than ever right now, with so many new touchpoints available for a brand to live in. Do you think brands are being creative enough with sound?

Tom> I’m not sure sound is more important than ever. It’s always been fundamental. It always will be.


LBB> Tell us about a recent project in which music was instrumental to the campaign’s success.

Tom> We recently transformed Wembley Way into a WWE ring entrance, with lasers, smoke and even commentators talking-up passers-by as if they were wrestlers. Music is integral to the WWE spectacle, so we couldn’t have done it without Motorhead’s The Game blaring through the Wembley underpass. 


LBB> What is your approach to setting a music brief for a campaign?

Tom> The brief for the music depends on what role a track plays in the idea. Some are adornments to the idea. Some are inspiration for the idea. Some are the idea. I always loved the theme tune to the 70s sitcom, ‘Are you being served?’. I’d been waiting years to use it on a brief until I managed to write an Audi commercial based on it. The song’s obscurity and quirkiness contrasted the highly polished production beautifully.


LBB> Music is scientifically proven to evoke emotion. Do you often think about or measure the effectiveness of music? How do you approach this?

Tom> Ultimately, the choice of music will always be subjective. I can’t imagine any client approving a piece of music that they personally dislike, no matter what the data or analysis could say about its merits. 


LBB> New social platforms like TikTok are inspiring musical trends all over the world. In advertising the need to quickly engage consumers has never been more important. What are your tips for using music to quickly grab people’s attention? 

Tom> As the Rizzle Kicks said, skip to the good bit. 


LBB> What would you like to happen with music for advertising in the next couple of years?

Tom> As production budgets shrink, more well-known (and therefore more expensive tracks) become out of reach. But, if we manage to acknowledge the role of music at the outset, perhaps we can set aside an independent, and appropriate budget, for it. 

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MassiveMusic London, Wed, 18 May 2022 15:45:53 GMT