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

Take a minute for bliss

Headshot of Angela Natividad

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.


Lastly, it informs Bose’s work with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team; online spots from October featured athletes Mikaela Shiffrin, Kelly Clark, Alex Deibold and Devin Logan prepping for the Winter Games.

—”Alive,” “Bliss,” “Hope” and “Young”
Creative Directors: Dan Cole, Andy Garnett
Creatives: Lex Down, Jamie Starbuck, Andy Preston, Brian Platt, Samira Ansari
Agency Producer: Tash Bloom
Agency Assistant Producer: Jessie Gammell
Account team: Justine Johnson, Oscar Flintoft, Andy Samuels, Jordan Hutchinson
Director: Miles Jay
Production Company: Smuggler
Producer: Ben Roberts
DoP: Evan Prosofsky
Music Supervision: Wake The Town
Music Composition: Dustin O’Halloran
Sound Design: Sam Ashwell at 750mph
Editor: Ben Jordan at Work Editorial
Post Production: Absolute Post
Post Producers: Belinda Grew / Kirsty Murray
2D Lead: Owen Saward
2D Assist: Zdravko Stoitchkov
Colourist: Tom Poole at Company3 NY
CG: Dan Baiton

—”Charged Up” and “Devotion”
Creative Director: Mick O’Brien
Associate Creative Directors: Craig Falzone, Dave Faucher
Agency Lead Producer: Eliza Lucas
Agency Producer: Jeff Eggleston
Creative Strategist: Jon Restaino
Partnership Marketing: Josh Glasheen
Marketing Services: Patty Kenney
Global Social Media: Christina Kelleher
Director: Noah Conopask
Production Company: THEM, in conjunction with Sweet Shop
Producer: Federico Negri
DoP: Garrett Davis
Editor: Al Spy
Colorist: Seth Ricart, RCO
Post Production: Bose
Sound & Music Experience: Jon Day

—U.S. Ski & Snowboard Content:
Associate Creative Directors: Forrest Plassmann, Eric Peterson, Mike Davis
Agency Lead Producer: Eliza Lucas
Agency Producer: Abbe Novack
Creative Strategist: Jon Restaino
Partnership Marketing: Kyle Maher
Marketing Services: Kathleen Tavares
Global Social Media: Christina Kelleher
Director: Ben Perry
Production Company: York Productions
Producer: Christopher Crawford
DoP: Bill Bennett
Editor: James Demetriou
Colorist: Jon Mercer
Post Production: Bose in conjunction with York Productions
Sound & Music Experience: Jon Day

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@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.