By Bruce Tweedie, managing director and songs specialist at Music Mill.
This is the advertising that I love the most. Simple but effective, full of joy, with creative supported by a cracker music track. But what a journey it was to finally get the song over the line. One measure is that I have accumulated well over 500 emails along the way.
It all began when Ogilvy Sydney asked us to do a music search for a new “Coke Breaks” campaign way back in 2019. The target on-air date was March 2020, and yes, you all know where I’m going when I mention that awful month. The starting point was a very detailed script, and as happens sometimes, when we see the finished work now it amazes me how agencies, directors and production companies can take those words on a piece of paper and bring them to life in exactly the way the script envisaged. Astonishing skills, and hats off to everyone at Ogilvy, the director Josh Frizzell, Eight for production and Toybox for post. But I digress.
Off we went and did multiple rounds of searches, with different budgets, keywords, genres, etc. Lots of work, lots of listening to songs, lots of quoting. Then suddenly in mid-January they really liked one of the tracks from our “low budget” search, a song called “Feels Like” by the Danger Twins. A classic upbeat, bouncy track that fitted the brief perfectly. They wanted something that two Chinatown chefs could dance to, and they certainly got that.
The Twins are straight out of the modern mould of music creation – Andrew Bissell is the experienced producer, and Amy Stroup is the very talented singer. Collaboration is the word. Their bio describes them as “eclectic indie-pop+rock+hip-hop”, but they sure sound like pure pop to me. Even though they are straight out of Nashville.
After securing all the requisite approvals, it became clear that the song needed to be tweaked a little to fit the edits, so we spent a week bombarding them with questions. Would they agree to change their song? Can we have stems? Who will make the changes? Here’s a draft, is it OK? Will the tornado in Nashville slow things down? (Yes there was a tornado, no it didn’t.) Eventually we got there, all approved, everybody delighted.
In the meantime, while we were pushing down this happy road, COVID was looming larger every day. The campaign start date was pushed out a little, but we kept progressing, contracts were exchanged, and payments were made. All set to go.
Then the sky fell in. Whole countries were locked down. Advertising collapsed in a manner we had never contemplated. At Music Mill we were suddenly dealing with a cacophony of clients who needed to postpone or cancel their sync licences. In normal times those sorts of discussions are very difficult with music publishers and labels, but for the most part the suppliers were very understanding when the extent of the COVID tsunami became apparent. In this case we did negotiate a Holding Fee to postpone the start date for quite a long time, but the amount was nominal – a lot less than similar fees we have looked at in other eras.
So finally, here we are, and the TVC has made it to air a year and a quarter later. But it was worth the wait, it would have been a real shame if COVID had killed it. Such a wonderful spot, and I say that knowing that it is really just a quirky little ad for Coke – not some massive brand campaign that cost a fortune to make. This kind of advertising is just the best – where everything comes together and the sum is greater than the parts – casting, acting, choreography, dancing, music, the simple idea in the first place. Ephemeral art that won’t make it into a gallery, but fleetingly beautiful nonetheless.
People to thank – Phylicia Chong from Secret Road for submitting the song to us; Phylicia plus Gary Seeger from Peer Music for going the extra mile to keep the sync licence moving along the roller coaster; Renee Nadin and Amanda Bennie from Ogilvy for always being such a pleasure to work with.
Music Mill: www.musicmill.com.au