Bose Made Some Lovely, Moving Ads About the Emotional Power of Music

Take a minute for bliss

It’s commonly understood that music in an ad, show or film can transform the way that content will ultimately be received. Would Guardians of the Galaxy feel as good to watch if it weren’t for its Awesome Mix?

But that is only the case because there’s something about music itself that changes us—that not only brings something to the ambiance but alters the way we experience it. This response to a melody is deeply personal; sometimes the music you need in the moment has no relation at all to what’s happening around you.

This is the insight that resonates in Bose’s latest campaign, taglined, “However you feel, really feel.”

In four 30-second spots by Grey London, we’re met with a different person. Each is out in the world, doing their thing … but what’s happening in their headphones tells a deeper, more intimate story without actually disconnecting them from the lives they’re in.

First off, there’s “Alive,” where we meet a boy leaving a school dance all by his lonesome. As he scoots home at dusk, the music from his headphones begins to lift and the camera zeroes in on his face.

It is beatific, silent, marked with a kiss.

“Bliss” brings us to a ballet studio, where a teacher is running drills. The camera moves slowly, movements out of focus, until we arrive at a hand rubbing a pair of battered feet. As the teacher’s voice fades, softer, gentler music takes over, and we rise to meet the face of the woman to whom those feet belong.

She is tired, covered in sweat, eyes closed. But the sensation you share with her is catharsis, not fatigue.

“Hope” finds a man alone, and his face is the first thing we see.

Everything about this man hurts; his cheeks are streaked with tears. Yet the melody leaking from his headphones is uplifting, full of the promise that whatever pain he’s faced is not beginning but just starting to recede.

And there’s “Young,” featuring wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The mood here is sunny and suburban, flanked by old women at exercise bikes and kids playing double-dutch.

This ad is as quiet as the previous ones, but more playful: As the piano picks up, Fitzgerald tackles a chalked-out game of hopscotch with the abandon of a child—one of the best feelings music can give you.

The work promotes Bose’s QC35 II headhones, with original music composed by Oscar-nominated pianist and composer Dustin O’Halloran. While music-focused ads mostly feature serotonin-lifting pop, this work is in many ways the polar opposite of, say, Apple’s latest beat-dropping “Note” campaign. It’s introverted, tied to the relationships we have with the tracks we carry with us.

But for all that, no one here actually seems disconnected—a common complaint about our relationship to technology. Instead we witness respite, secret breathers in a world they remain fully engaged in and part of.

And there’s something profoundly relatable about watching human drama play out, not in words but in faces. What Grey London so beautifully conveys is that we all carry universes within us, and that there are secret, primordial pleasures in the moments when we can nourish them. Music is so often the easiest gateway.

The ads, shot in Vancouver, started running stateside on Oct. 15. From Nov. 1, they also started running in Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the U.K.

The campaign will also be tied to Bose’s NFL sponsorship in the U.S. Two supporting digital spots, “Charged Up” and “Devoted,” feature other football players—Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons, and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.

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