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Your Shot: How The Sweet Sound of Music Is Lowering Sugar Consumption in China



Beijing Dentsu on creating a soundtrack along with the University of Oxford that tricks the brain into thinking foods and drinks are sweeter

Your Shot: How The Sweet Sound of Music Is Lowering Sugar Consumption in China

As China’s economy has undergone massive growth, its inhabitants’ taste buds have begun adapting to a more westernised diet. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of awareness of the effects that this sugar and fat rich food can have on the body. XINCAFE, a café and creators space in Shanghai, and its agency Beijing Dentsu are targeting the over consumption of sugar with ‘Sonic Sweetener’, a soundtrack that helps focus the brain’s attention on the sweet taste in food and drink, thus reducing the need for sugar. The project is based on research by Dr Charles Spence at the University of Oxford. 

LBB’s Addison Capper spoke with Beijing Dentsu (Shanghai Office) creative director Takamori Kadoi to find out more...

LBB> Why is this an important issue not just globally but specifically in China? 

TK> Overconsumption of sugar is definitely a global issue. In China, the problem of obesity is becoming a social issue. With the country’s rapid economic growth, people’s diet habits have become more westernised. Lack of awareness of the overconsumption of sugar is one of the reasons behind it – therefore we wanted to enhance awareness about this issue.


LBB> What kind of research was involved for this project? When did you first discover that music could trick the brain into thinking things were sweeter? 

TK> ‘Science + art + commerce’ is a good formula to come up with an innovation. I just enjoy learning about these types of things. I don’t think there is anything special about what I did. I found Dr Spence’s research in the summer of 2015. I was super excited about when I first read it.


LBB> How closely did you work with the University of Oxford team on this project? 

TK> Dr Spence introduced us to Ms Qian ‘Janice’ Wang, a PhD Student. She helped us throughout the process. We asked many, many questions to her and she always gave us quick responses. She really helped us a lot. We could not have made this happen without her help.


LBB> How does Sonic Sweetener work exactly? 

TK> Because we naturally associate a specific soundtrack with sweetness, listening to the sound track helps focus our attention to the sweet taste in the food / drink, and that is why it feels sweeter as a result.


LBB> Tell us about the music and sounds that make up Sonic Sweetener experience - what is it like? 

TK> Some of the main characteristics of Sonic Sweetener are the high frequency sound, open-chords and slow tempo. These qualities help people focus on sweet taste.  


LBB> Who did you work with on the sound design? How closely did these guys work with the team at University of Oxford? 

TK> We worked with Lader Production in Tokyo. Chester Beatty is our sound designer, and Ryo Harada is producer. I shared Dr Spence’s papers with them and explained it. They then analysed it, and then composed the original sound track which has high frequencies and open-chords (and many other characteristics). We sent Janice the sound and she gave us advice and we brushed it up accordingly. It was a very collaborative process.


LBB> What kind of reaction did you see when people used the technology for the first time? 

TK> Many people enjoyed the experience, and that was very important for us. Music is entertaining and fun, which is why we chose it to help people reduce their sugar intake. We did not want to scare people to call for their attention. People will be more positive about changing their behaviours when they enjoy an experience.


LBB> At the moment it’s only available in one cafe - can you see this being rolled out wider? 

TK> Yes. I hope that this project shows people the possibility in the future. We would like to further improve it if we get the chance. 


LBB> What were the trickiest elements of the project and how did you overcome them? 

TK> I think this whole project was quite challenging, but I think our passion helped us make it through. It was the passion to do good for the society using our creativity.  


Agency / Creative
Music / Sound
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LBB Editorial, Thu, 02 Mar 2017 15:48:10 GMT