Ad of the Day: Pandora Gives Real People the Brutal Task of Describing the Power of Music

Twofifteenmccann tackles an impossible mission

Advertisers have been trying forever in commercials to communicate the power of music, and it's almost an impossible task.

Yes, ads can use particular songs as examples of music's transcendence (the iPod silhouettes series is probably the most notable example). But that hardly gets at the universality of music's power. Beyond that, commercials have just words and pictures, but visual and textual metaphors often fail at describing something that is neither. 

Enter Pandora's new 60-second spot from twofifteenmccann. For its latest stab at capturing people's deep, meaningful and personal connection to music, the streaming service gave up on licensed music entirely—the spot has none—and instead recruited "real people" to simply describe in their own words what particular songs mean to them. 

It's Pandora's first campaign without using music or musicians. Check out the spot here:

The characters are charming and quirky and nicely diverse. And their emotion is evident and seems genuine—particularly the crying guy, whom we meet, somewhat jarringly, after he's already weeping. And if their words are a poor approximation of the feeling they're trying to describe, that's just par for the course in this category. 

In fact, the spot (inadvertently?) admits as much in its final scene, when an off-camera interviewer asks one of the music fans, as she's taking out her headphones, "Tell me how this song makes you feel." When it comes right down to it, she can't. And when she doesn't even try—the honesty of that—is when the spot finally hits its stride. 

The tagline remains, "The next song matters."

The campaign includes a :30 and upcoming :15s and spans national broadcast, online, DR, music festival activations, email marketing and custom digital/social across media partnerships including Thought Catalog, Cracked, Cluep, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Twitter and Whisper.

Client: Pandora

Agency: twofifteenmccann
Chief Creative Officer: Scott Duchon
Executive Creative Director: Adam Reeves
Creative Director: Ezra Paulekas
Art Director: Sean Flores, Nicole Birch
Copywriter: Ben Wolan, Matt Bunnell, Bri Hand
Director of Integrated Production: Alex Spahr   
Sr Producer: Kacey Hart
Sr Digital Producer: Eryn Lovich
Digital Producer: Amanda Punzalan
Digital Video Assistant Producer: Brandon Chen
Interactive Art Director: Ken Macy
Digital Video Editor: Carson Bell, Ivan Shumaker
Account: Charlie Byron, Anne Cathcart
Strategy: Gabrielle Tenaglia, Janene Lin, Paige Robertson

Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Henry-Alex Rubin
Director of Photography: Ken Seng
Line Producer: Leah Fleischmann-Allina
Executive Producer: Drew Santarsiero

Editorial: Stitch
Editor: Dan Swietlik
Assistant Editor: Weston Cadwell
Producer: Ben Bragg
Executive Producer:  Mila Davis

Colorist: Tim Stipan
Company: Efilm

Mixing: Lime Studios
Original Music: Cliff Martinez