Creative harmony: How an Oreo campaign proved a perfect recipe for music and creativity

Creative harmony: How an Oreo campaign proved a perfect recipe for music and creativity

It’s ironic that the most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stressful. That’s certainly true when it comes to food—holiday dinners end in smoke, ambitious baking projects spill onto the kitchen floor, and the sounds of carolers are accompanied by fire alarms as our neighbors endure the same fate. During last year’s holiday season, the iconic Oreo sandwich cookie brand touched on a universal truth: That sometimes, despite our noblest intentions, the best-laid holiday plans can go awry. In those all-too-popular occasions, the brand suggests, it’s safer to opt for the tried-and-true convenience of an Oreo cookie.

The brand’s festive ad, from creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi Canada, was accompanied by a perfect festive soundtrack that tied the whole concept together. Playful lyrics sung in an idyllic festive tone (“Gingerbread man with a missing arm / smoke everywhere, there’s a fire alarm”, for example) laid the perfect foundation for the light-hearted visual comedy that played out on screen. But in addition to being the prime example of a friendly, cheerful holiday ad, the campaign represented something else: A perfect case study of music working in harmony with a creative idea.

So often, we hear that music is last on the creative agenda. But here, Saatchi & Saatchi were sure to prioritize audio from the start – resulting in a seamless collaboration with TA2 Sound + Music. To learn more about how it all came together, LBB sat down with creative directors Craig Brandon and Mike De Candido, along with audio director Steve Gadsden.

“For me, it was an ideal process,” says Steve. “We always try to explain the benefits of getting audio into the process as early as possible, and this ad does a great job of showing that. For spots like this, the music really needs to lead the production. That’s because a lot can happen along the way, and working collaboratively with your audio partner means the audio can grow or adapt organically and really fit the idea like a glove.”

As Craig and Mike recall, the decision to open a dialogue with Steve and TA2 at an early stage was a no-brainer. “In this case, the music continued to inform the visuals a lot,” says Mike.

In addition to helping on a conceptual level, this level of collaboration also gave the team some practical advantages. “There are a lot of moments in this ad that are very visible,” explains Craig. “Gingerbread Men with Broken Arms is an example of this. It also helped us and the director a lot to focus on what needed to be shot and what ultimately wouldn’t work because it wasn’t related to the song.”

Looking back, the concept of the song itself was essential even in the information phase for the project. “We had asked the client for an opportunity to simply do some original thinking and they obliged,” says Mike. “We came into the room with a bunch of random scripts, but it wasn’t until we started talking about the idea of ​​a holiday song that the heads in the room really started to nod.”

“I think this is the third or fourth time I’ve ended up trying to sing for a customer in a pitch,” Craig recalls with a smile. “Usually I need beer and a karaoke screen, but somehow I made it work. So we had the kernel of an idea and we knew right away that Steve could take it and make it perfect for the ad.”

Another factor in the success of this particular collaboration is that it is the latest of many times the trio have worked together. As Mike says, “the longer you work with someone, the easier it is to develop a short language for communication and build that all-important trust factor.”

But while that may be especially true of this Oreo ad, there’s a deeper significance about the interplay between music and creative ideas that shouldn’t be ignored. “Often, the music is reactive to what’s happening visually. Because of that, I think there are a lot of people who think they can afford to leave it until the last minute,” says Steve. “But the truth is that music, visuals and concepts inform each other. They should grow up together. The more that happens, the more we can talk about what the music should do and the emotions we want to try and capture.”

And that, after all, is the real benefit of putting music side by side with ideas in the creative process. It’s a finished product where nothing feels off and, to borrow some imagery from the ad itself, there’s no risk of a faulty recipe or idea getting burnt in the oven. Get it right, and any ad can be as satisfying as an Oreo.

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