Ad of the Day: eBay Builds New Campaign Around Song Lyrics, and It’s Glorious

Delightfully designed spots from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

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Goodby, Silverstein & Partners just released one of the most playful, infectious and eye-catching ad campaigns of the year—five online spots for eBay that cleverly combine music and design to show off the vast array of merchandise on the site.

The "Shop a Song" spots, directed by Robert Bisi of Brand New School, are built around the soundtracks. As each song plays, products pop up that match the lyrics in some way—either literally or figuratively (which is sometimes more fun). This results in mini music videos that are impeccably designed, and great fun to watch.

The songs are:

• "Riptide" by Vance Joy

• "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha

• "Only the Good Die Young" by Billy Joel

• "Shine On" by Florida Georgia Line

• "My House," a brand-new track by Warren G.

Check out the spots here:

Margaret Johnson, executive creative director at GS&P, tells Adweek that it took a while to find the right soundtracks. "We waded through hundreds of songs to find our five favorites," she says. "We needed songs that had great momentum and that mentioned the right kind of items to show off eBay's vast inventory. It certainly wasn't easy to find the perfect tracks."

From there, it was a matter of choosing the products to match the lyrics. This was also very involved, but the end results are delightfully playful—beautifully made set pieces, one after another, that nicely frame the products but with enough flexibility and surprises to keep the viewer enthralled.

"It was involved, but it was also a lot of fun," says Johnson. "We wanted to play with the way lyrics can be interpreted, not just stick to products that matched literally. Licensing was a pretty interesting can of worms, but overall we landed in a great place."

Of the visual style, Johnson adds: "We wanted each song to have a distinct visual personality. The guys at Brand New School did an amazing job with the animation, giving every single product a little wink even if it only appeared on screen for a second."

"The beauty of this campaign is how flexible it is," says the director, Robert Bisi. "The tempo of the songs can vary greatly, so we did a lot of testing to see which lyrics would work best against the visuals and which lyrics would act like a catalyst, spurring the visuals."

He adds: "It was a lot of seeing [which props] would work well and then deciding on how best to art direct them, and whether or not to create them using CG or to shoot them practically. The lyrics became a really fun catalyst for ideas when we looked at them more like commercial scripts as opposed to just song lyrics. Each lyric was a puzzle to solve, and we love figuring out these sort of brain teasers."

It was important not to be too literal with it, Bisi says.

"The songs have an inherent feel and vibe to them already, which made designing against them a real pleasure," he says. "We made a point to try and design in an unexpected way that supported the songs' personalities but also pushed beyond what would be obvious and delve deeper into an unexpected place. By making the spots less obvious, I wanted to try and give them a personality of their own that was inspired by the songs, but wholly unique as stand-alone pieces."

The campaign has a fun on-site element, too. Each YouTube video has a link to an eBay collection of all the items from the song. Check out those collections here:

Riptide Collection

Tik Tok Collection

Only the Good Die Young Collection

Shine On Collection

My House Collection


Client: eBay

Senior Brand Marketing Manager: Carey Malloy

Campaign: "Shop a Song"

Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco

Executive Creative Director: Margaret Johnson

Creative Director: Kate Catalinac

Associate Creative Director: Kristin Graham

Broadcast Producer: Conor Duignan

Account Director: Ed Allt-Graham

Account Manager: Melissa Buck

Assistant Account Manager: Rosie Breen

Business Affairs Manager: Heidi Killeen

Business Affairs Associate Manager: Kelli Cline

Production Company: Brand New School

Director: Robert Bisi

Designers: Waka Ichinose, Sakona Kong, Yoon Lee, Scott Uyeshima

Computer Graphics Generalists: Andy Kim, Youn Kwack, Haozheng Cui

Computer Graphics Rigger: Vinh Chung

2-D Animators, Compositors: Scott Uyeshima, Andrew Soria, Maithy Tran, Simon Chan, Cameron Walser, Matt McLelland

Storyboard Artists: Max Forward, Tristyn Pease

Editor: Sean Uren

Managing Partner: Devin Brook

Executive Producer: Paul Abatemarco

Head of Production: Amy Russo

Senior Producers: Greg Heffron, Beth Vogt

Sound Design: Lime studios

Final Mix: Joel Waters

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.