When it came to launching a new campaign for automotive brand ŠKODA recently, the client pointed to the success of its work with Paloma Faith last year for inspiration as it sent sales through the roof. But the Fallon creative team on the project knew it couldn't simply do the same thing again with the artist, so looked to expand on the concept by inviting her back with four more musical acts.
Below, creative directors Ronaldo Tavares and Ricardo Motti explain how they all came together to represent difference and diversity through their respective singing styles in a msuic video that champions individuality.
What was the brief?
ŠKODA’s motto is ‘driven by something different’ because the brand strives to champion independent thinkers and break category conventions. The brief for every campaign — even car launches — is to keep building on the driven by something different idea.
Other than that, there’s an objective of increasing emotional resonance and appealing to a younger, more female-focused audience. ŠKODA also wanted a follow-up to the previous campaign with Paloma Faith, which was a massive success for the brand in terms of conversation, earned media, brand metrics and sales.
Tell us about the inception of the idea…
ŠKODA had a lot of success with the previous campaign, when we got Paloma Faith to re-record Make Your Own Music and created a whole campaign to launch her track including a music video that was turned into TV spots. Her song received lots of radio airplay, the single charted in the Top 10 and the ŠKODA KAROQ sold out.
So, the client asked us whether we could do it again. Could we use music to convey what the brand believes in? We thought it was a great challenge, but we would get diminishing returns if we just did the same thing again. So, we went with a film sequel tactic: wider, bigger with even more star power.
What Was the biggest challenge?
Selecting and securing a celebrity for a campaign is always an arduous task. In this case, we had to select five — and make sure we had a great mix of personalities, styles and mainstream and up-and-coming artists. It was an intricate puzzle that took weeks to solve. It meant five different agents, five different contracts and so on. It’s a good thing we have the best producer in the world, Georgina Pearson, making it all happen against the odds.
How did the various teams involved work together?
We knew we wanted a music video director and were lucky to get Henry Schofield and Caviar. His reel is fantastic (even more so now with the recent Wiley and Stormzy videos) and his treatment was amazing. We basically asked him to create five music videos in one and he delivered. He’s not only talented and hardworking, but super collaborative.
Henry was there from the beginning making sure the mixed tracks worked for his vision, made us stay in a dark sound stage for crazy hours each day and was present all through post production.
What about the music/sound and effects?
Making five completely different tracks work together in one seamless edit was one of the biggest challenges. That fantastic ‘music stitching’ you hear in the ad was done by Munzie Thind at Grand Central and most of it happened before the cameras were rolling, so we knew what had to be shot.
Also, we didn’t want to have any input on what the artists did to keep the project authentic. Once we had the tracks, we knew we couldn’t give them any notes. So, the only thing we did, as instructed by Munzie, was give everyone the same BPM and key so it would be possible to stitch the tracks together.
Why does the idea work for the brand?
ŠKODA’s motto is ‘driven by something different’, but we discussed a lot in the last few months about how hard it is to be different these days. There’s pressure to conform, particularly for young people and particularly with social networks. We all tend to cluster with people who think like we do.
What we wanted to convey is that, by giving the same task to five different people, they’ll arrive at five completely different results — and that’s beautiful.
We’re lucky to have great clients that love to be challenged and love bold ideas. It would be a lot easier (and risk-free) for everyone if we just wrote a manifesto, but that’s not what we wanted and definitely not what ŠKODA wanted.
Why do you think it resonates with the audience?
We always prefer to do advertising that doesn’t look like advertising. In this case, it made sense to go for something that hopefully entertains people and gets their attention while delivering the brand message. If you look at the lyrics to I’ve Gotta Be Me, it’s exactly what ŠKODA is about but expressed in a way that’s better than 300 copywriters could write.
Creating a music video that’s then turned into a TV spot also makes it look different than a typical ad in terms of aesthetic, messaging and so on. We hate the feeling of ‘here comes another boring ad’, so we’re always trying to avoid that. As Sammy Davis Jr sang, whether we’re right or whether we’re wrong.
Why was this the best way to present the campaign?
Just like with the Paloma Faith campaign in 2018, we wanted music fans to know that this was an authentic release by their favourite artists. That’s why they had creative freedom to create their versions however they wanted, with no creative input from us whatsoever. And if fans liked those tracks, they would be more willing to pay attention to the ad when they saw it on TV. So, we released the five different tracks about two weeks before the TV spot launched. We also had the artists promoting the work to their audiences and released the music video a little earlier than the TVC.
What do you hope people take away from the work?
We discussed a lot about how hard it is to be different. There’s such huge pressure to conform, and people are still vilified for standing out and being different. So, we wanted to prove that strength lies in differences, not in similarities. There’s an Oprah quote we used since the first strategy presentation that says: “The qualities that set us apart are often the ones that help us succeed.” If people agree with that and realise ŠKODA is honestly on board with it, we’ll be super happy.