Category Archives: Audio


This edition of The EarBlog comes from Eardrum Europe’s Creative Director Paul Wauters.

These are exciting times for audio and radio people, suddenly we’re in demand and almost cool! But how do brands live in a world where eyes are given a rest, and voices and ears take over? Surely we were prepared for this? Let’s open the brand book and skip the visual identity to go straight to… hold on, where’s the chapter on audio identity?

Nope, there isn’t one.

Fortunately, many brands have been using radio, so they’ve been building their consistent brand sound with a distinctive image and personality.

Ahh, no. Wrong again.

If this sample taken from last week’s French airwaves is anything to go by, most brands on radio sound exactly the same.

 But we can fix that.

1. The Sonic Logo

Okay, so it’s time to think audio brand personality. Some brands have seen what’s going on and rushed to their local audio logo shop. These sonic brand triggers, audio logos or eh, jingles, are going on every piece of communication; at the end of an ad, or all across the longer version. They become the telephone hold music, at the point of sale, digital or physical, and now they can accompany a podcast or streaming service ad, and, of course, integrate nicely into the world of Alexa etc.

But for some reason, no matter how many months work or Grammy award winners they throw at these projects, the majority of sonic logos end up sounding a little like the Grand Daddy of them all – Intel.

There’s so much more sonic territory to explore. Maybe we can learn something from producers like Pharrell Williams, who ‘signs’ each song he produces with four beats.  Mike WiLL, American hip hop record producer, slips a not so very subtle “Mike WiLL Made it” in.  Jahlil Beats incorporates a production tag into all his songs of his 3-year-old niece ordering “Jahlil Beats holla at me”.

Interesting, because they don’t interrupt but give a hint of personality. Creating a little phrase or even an animal call can do a good job at instantly positioning a brand. I liked the old Yahoo sound logo for this reason, perfectly in line with their mission: have fun exploring:

I also love these ones, at the end of Rick & Morty.

2. Signature Sounds

But there are signature sounds that comfortably nest in our brains and take us to a brand instantly: the sound of a Harley engine, the Mac opening sound, the old Nokia earworm; sounds that are so closely connected to those brands, that wherever they are heard, it’s a little ad floating through the space you hear it in. This is certainly an area of opportunity: what does an Otis elevator sound like, what does a Peugeot horn sound like, what do you hear when you insert your Marriott hotel room key?

3. Creating Sonic Celebrities

Remember this?

Voice-overs are rarely part of the brand ambassadors club, but if they are, it’s incredibly powerful. I can’t think of a better example than Motel 6; they have been using Tom Bodett since 1986. His is the voice of their wake-up calls and he’s the host of their podcast. More often than not though, most voice-overs sound like voice-overs, they inform, but barely contribute to the brand personality.

4. The Vibe

Today, more than ever, brands use three basic emotions: joy, joy and joy. The tone of voice of 90% of all brands is confident, optimistic and happy. We need emotional diversity or brands become interchangeable. We all like the bad guys and fruitcakes. Head & Shoulders showcased some interesting “different” personalities in this campaign:

5. Catchphrases

You know where your brain goes when someone says “shaken, not stirred” or “Doh!”. Some brands have phrases that find their way into popular culture, too, and it’s not always the brand tagline. ‘Wassup’ lived on for many years after the campaign ended. ‘I’m loving it’ has made its way into our daily lives with some help from Justin Timberlake. Having a catchy brand name helps, but if you don’t have one of those, you can create your own brand vocabulary. “Hello Moto” was brought back for the relaunch of Motorola in 2016, and is regularly used by deejays. “Like a girl” is also now synonymous with Always. Hearing those words, even out of context, will take us there every time.


6. Verbal Identity

Verbal identity, the way a brand expresses itself is being added to the list in certain award shows, as part of the design category. Volvo got the treatment in 2017 and took out the Grand LIA at the that year’s awards.

The importance of a certain way of speaking: smart, elegant, daft, cold, simplistic, staccato, flowery, witty, engineery. A brand in the audio world could do with a clearly defined writing style, to feed that audio personality. So that people can say “that sounds like something brand X would say”.

So, when you break down all the elements that go into it, it’s not surprising that many agencies and brand identity specialists struggle with creating a brand’s sound. Which is why they’re teaming up with audio specialists such as Eardrum. Together we can make a brand come to life in every sense.

Radio Advertising Award 2019 – Die Gewinner

Am 28.3. war es endlich so weit: Bei den Audio Honours in Hamburg, der Preisverleihung des Radio Advertising Award 2019, feierten die Gewinner gemeinsam mit allen Nominierten, der Jury und ausgewählten Gästen die kreativsten Radiospots und Audio-Ideen des Jahres.

Die obersten Plätze auf dem Siegerpodest sicherten sich die Agenturen Kolle Rebbe, Grabarz & Partner und gleich zweimal die DDB Group Germany. Für alle, die noch mal reinhören wollen: Die insgesamt zwölf Gewinner-Kampagnen hören Sie hier.

Bei kühlen Drinks, einem vielfältiger Live-Musik und gutem Essen verkündeten die Laudatoren, schlagkräftig unterstützt durch Moderatorin Nina Sonnenberg, jeweils drei Gold-, Silber- und Bronze-Preisträger in den vier Kategorien „Best Brand“, „Best Creative Activation“, „Best Innovative Idea“ und „Best Storytelling“. Ausgezeichnet wurden innovative und herausragende Arbeiten, die sich von der Masse abgehoben haben und die hinsichtlich der übergeordneten Bewertungskriterien innerhalb ihrer Kategorien die hochkarätige Experten-Jury des diesjährigen Radio Advertising Award überzeugen konnten.

Auch der begehrte Audience Award wurde mittlerweile vergeben. Tausende Radiohörer und Hörerinnen haben online abgestimmt und für ihren Favoriten gevotet. Der Publikumspreis wurde im Rahmen des Radio Advertising Summit am 10. April in Düsseldorf verliehen und geht dieses Jahr an die Einreichung SOUND OF SUMMER von Grabarz & Partner (Kreativ Agentur), Studio Funk (Produktion) und den Kunden Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft e.V.


How to win an award: a dozen tips from inside the jury room

Awards season is upon us.  Which means, for most creative agencies, the annual scramble to get those last-minute ideas up has begun.

Seeing as a career-defining, salary-boosting, jealousy-inducing accolade is at the top of nearly every creative’s to-do list, we thought it’d be valuable to share some pointers from our time in the jury room on how to pick up some metal in the audio category.


1. Campaign order

You’ve almost certainly have heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. The order you submit your work as part of a campaign is very important. Lead with your strongest, end with your second strongest. At risk of beating a dead horse, submitting 3 pieces of work should look like look like 1st, 3rd, 2nd.

BBDO New York
Snickers — "Airport Bathroom", "Microwave Buttons", "Credit Card Chip Reader"


2. Leave ‘em wanting more

Don’t enter the 90-second version if the 60 does the job.

Ogilvy, Chicago
Lyric Opera of Chicago — "Death Radio"


3. Performance craft

The craft category isn’t only for exceptional sound design. If you have a spot with an exceptional performance from an actor, it’s eligible for the craft category under direction.

Ogilvy South Africa, Cape Town
Volkswagen — People Can't Stop Themselves — "Stalker"


4. Juries love longevity

You can and should be entering long running campaigns, provided the work is fresh and interesting. You’ll score extra continuity points from the jury. The long-running Motel 6 campaign is a great example of this.

The Richards Group, Dallas
Motel 6 — "Hipsters"


5. Shorter the better

Campaigns of short 15-second-or-less spots stand out to judges alongside the thousands of long entries.

Saatchi & Saatchi NY, United States
Stuffit — "Marriage" & “Travel”


6. Level of involvement

Ideas that require the listener to “do something” to hear the message (like re-tuning or rebalancing their radio) have to be really, really good and really, really simple to make it past the first round of judging. Especially if the audience’s exposure to the ad is limited in the real world. The following plays on this, however, to communicate its message.

Ogilvy Germany, Frankfurt
HMTM Hannover — The Absolute Pitch


7. Be real

Campaigns for clients who wouldn’t usually advertise stand out as being fake. If you’re going to be proactive, make work for a brand that actually advertises. Better yet, make proactive work for your own clients. Not highlighters, paper clips, or bike shops, for example.

Global — The Media & Entertainment Group, London
EasyCoffee — "Steve"


8. Don’t embellish results

The jury do their homework. If something doesn’t seem right in an entry, they’ll ask another juror — or Google — for the answer. If you’re campaign didn’t achieve the results your entry is claiming, the jury will (usually) notice.

McCann NY, New York
MGM Resorts International — "Universal Love Songs"


9. Inspiration is everywhere

Inspiration comes from anywhere. It’s tempting to follow the trend set by work which won in previous years, but you should also be looking elsewhere for inspiration. Go to museums, watch weird foreign films, spend time in obscure sub-reddits and odd corners of the internet. The aim of the game is fresh work. And you’re not going to achieve that by regurgitating old ideas.

Vapor RMW, Toronto
Branch Out Neurological Foundation — Roomates


10. Find the opportunity

Look for the opportunity in every brief. Some of the most awarded work has come from the most ordinary, run-of-the-mill briefs. It doesn’t have to be the next Nike TVC brief to create something spectacular… you just have to approach the problem from a different angle.

Ogilvy, Chicago
Lysoform — "The Last Germ - Day 3"


11. Music matters

Don’t use copyright music unless you have paid for it. If you have permission, say that in the description otherwise judges will think it’s a scam. Or you could always get around the copywrite by doing what VW did.

Grabarz & Partner, Hamburg
Volkswagen — “Song Inspection”


12. Original is best

Always enter the version in the original language. Yes, include a script and an audio translation, but the original normally has better performances. Which judges can hear, even if they don’t understand the language.

The following is a terrific idea for an Argentinian organisation. But only the English version was submitted for the judges, despite the local version (which would have run) existing. English speakers will immediately hear the unnatural performances and clunky end line, which hurts the overall execution.

Grey Group Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina
ELA — "Door"