'It's an ode in sound, the sound is the story'

In a four-parter on the importance of music in advertising, Gijs de Swarte talks to a few of his fellow industry specialists. Part 2 with Niek Eijsbouts.

Niek Eijsbouts, Creative Director of post-advertising agency SuperHeroes Amsterdam with offices In New York and Singapore: 'Yes, music… the silent love of many creatives. In these times of data, measuring and targets, with music it still comes down to real craft, real creation. Music is very dependent on gut feeling. Usually the best briefs are those from a creative to the sound designer. That is a skill in its own right, where the solution is often a lot of humming things to communicate the ideas.'

'All things considered there are two approaches in advertising and music. Either the image is primary and is supported by the music. Or the music is the starting point, tells the story and carries the images. As I see it: sound follows function. Everything should be in service of the idea. If you stick strictly to this, real magic can happen.'

'The Donorweek film I did years ago with Gijs van den Berg, is an example of sound amplifying the idea. The idea: famous and less famous Dutchmen passing a camera to each other and answering the question on film: are you an organ donor yet? That really worked visually and came across as very authentic. And then the music, that was a bit of a head-scratcher. The next day, an exceptionally driven composer called Jasper Boeke suggested, seemingly out of nowhere, that we use rollercoaster sounds. The clanking and rattling of the rise, then the screaming and cheering during the drop. All of that was far removed from anything I thought of, but it turned out to be phenomenally effective.'

The Motorcycle Symphony
'Another great example of music being the start of an idea, is The Motorcycle Symphony that was nominated for a Webby and a Buma Award this year. Goal: promoting the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride, an event where men across the globe go on a bike ride to raise awareness for prostate cancer. The idea was to take the loud mechanical noises of the motorbikes, something that irritates most people, and turn it into something everybody loves. In the end it became a symphony of motorcycle sounds that starts with stationary growls, then the bike starts revving, the rpm's rise, then come the higher notes and finally a 'choir' of other bikes. The images show men on their motorcycles, along with director Dominic Seldis (of the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest) in front of them. It's an ode in sound, where the sound is doing so much more than merely carrying the images: it is the story.

'I don't have a preference if music or images are the element that carries the narrative. What I find especially fascinating is how you can balance music, words and moving images to communicate the idea in the strongest possible way. That's the big quest. For example in the campaign for Remaster The Internet for LG USA, that I produced with our office in New York, the goal was to show a young target audience that the new LG V20 phone can capture images and sound in exceptional quality. We took a few of the best-known virals of the moment and filmed them again with the phone ("remastered") as evidence of thet very high quality that the phone delivers. And then we added a smooth 90s-style band singing lovingly about what's happening.

The Motorcycle Symphony 2
'That sounds quite complicated, but when you take into account the brief and also take into account the target audience, it all made sense. Images, sound and the message of the client came together perfectly, because between sound and images and from hero film to product videos, everything was recorded with the LG smartphone. Talk about post-advertising…

'David Lynch said it: "Films are 50 percent sound and 50 percent visual." In short, I wholeheartedly agree with him.'

Part 1 of the fourparter was with Daniëlle Guirguis of Smarthouse Films.

Text: Gijs de Swarte