IDEA: Wouldn't it be nice if everyone broke into song in a commercial and it felt somewhat natural and not like a cheesy Broadway show?
AT&T manages that feat in a 60-second launch spot for its latest brand campaign, introducing a shiny new tagline: "Mobilizing your world." BBDO creatives Bill Heater and Marc Klein had been working for a year on a successor to the 4-year-old "Rethink possible" campaign, and came up with the idea that AT&T technologies work so seamlessly with people in their modern lives that harmony is achieved, and the world sings.
That cried out for an ad that delivered public displays of inflection (the vocal kind), and the pleasantly freewheeling "Anthem" spot obliges. It shows ordinary people singing a reworked version of "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys to celebrate how AT&T makes everything seamless and interoperable.
"We are clearly the leaders in this space, and we're not going to be quiet about it," said Sandra Howard, assistant vp of brand advertising at AT&T. "With this campaign as a starting point, we're showing that we're at the center of mobilization and are taking folks into the future."
COPYWRITING: "We must have written 400 versions of the script," said BBDO executive creative director Matt MacDonald. "The question was, How do we make this story big and dramatic and visually different?"
They did it by showing lots of technologies in as many interesting locations as possible, and then rebuilding the lyrics to match the scenes. The spot shows regular people and businesspeople—moms, gamers, weathermen, birdwatchers, on and on—harnessing technology to connect to what's important to them.
Both the people and the technology (many of the gadgets have cartoony faces) sing lines like: "Wouldn't it be nice if we were older/Then we wouldn't have to wait so long/Wouldn't it be nice to live together/In the kind of world where we belong."
A male voice at the end speaks two lines of copy: "At AT&T, we help people and things speak the same language. Because when everyone and everything works together, your world just sings." That's followed by the tagline, globe logo and att.com/sing.
FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Director Noam Murro, known for his humanizing touch, shot the launch work all around Southern California over three and a half weeks.
"Anthem" is visually warm and inviting. Giving the technology a face was tricky. "How do you make it natural and not scary?" said MacDonald. "We settled on these characters that were very simple and very expressionistic."
TALENT: The agency didn't want people who were perfect singers.
"We didn't want it to feel like Frozen," MacDonald said. "In casting, we'd have to tell them, 'No, no, no, don't make it too good. Pull it back a little bit. Sing like you're having a conversation, not like you're singing on stage.' That unlocked so much nuance. They worried less about the singing and more about what's going on with their lives."
The voiceover artist isn't a known voice, for the same reason. "We wanted a regular-guy voice, not someone who would bring too much of their personality to bear."
SOUND: "Wouldn't It Be Nice" was perfect. It's uplifting, lyrically apt and a melody everyone knows. (This allowed BBDO to make a second :60, "Network," in which the melody is created through sound design of gadgets buzzing, with no words at all.)
"All the harmonies, the vocals. That rich depth, that wall of sound production. It gave us a lot to play with," MacDonald said.
Spots: "Sing Anthem," "Sing Network"
Agency: BBDO, New York
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Chief Creative Officer, New York: Greg Hahn
Executive Creative Director: Matt MacDonald
Creative Director: Matt Vescovo
Copywriter: Bill Heater
Art Director: Marc Klein
Group Executive Producer: Julie Collins
Executive Producer: Diane Hill
Assistant Producer: Sasha White
Executive Music Producer: Melissa Chester
Senior Account Director: Walker Teele
Account Manager: Ashley Gill
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Murro
Director of Photography: Eric Schmidt
Music House: Human
Composer: Sloan Alexander
Edit House: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Assistant Editor: Luke Mcintosh
Visual Effects House (Network): Spontaneous
Visual Effect House (Anthem): Method