Welcome to COVERStories. A Synchblog series created by the team at Coversion to look at the creative use of cover songs in film/tv/trailers/games/and ad placements. We’re taking an in-depth look at why the music supervisors behind a piece of media chose to use a cover song instead of the original, where their inspiration comes from and how these placements help the artist behind the cover. This is an anatomy of a sync, but with a twist.
For our second installment of COVERStories, we chat with Ilana Goldstoff, Music Research & Sync Manager at Sizzer Amsterdam, about her use of a David Bowie cover in the award winning ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’ campaign for Heineken. Before joining Sizzer in 2015, Ilana was active in the music industry for 12 years as a booker, a talent scout and manager. She is also co-founder of Chicks in the Bizz, a network organization focused on women in the music industry, and organizer of Amsterdam Sync Drinks. In this installment, we look at the importance of using THEMES to best serve a specific need.
Since the advertisement focuses on Sir. Jackie Stewart continuously turning down beer after beer because he’s driving, it made it easier to narrow down what the creative team was after lyrically. Thematic ideas included “refusing, responsibility, winning, racing, life, champion, etc. And themes like Formula-1, sport hymns…”, but nothing overly emotional. How, then, did she come to land on “Heroes”? Ilana says –
“When I start with research I always brainstorm and write down all possible subjects and words that come to my mind. We did multiple brainstorm sessions with the creative team at Sizzer. In this case I remember that I wrote down and underlined the word ‘hero’ because Jackie Stewart is a hero for refusing the beers he got offered his whole life”
The creative team didn’t automatically think that a cover version would win out in this spot, however they truly hit the nail on the head with the cover they did discover. The powerful David Bowie song “Heroes”, performed by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox ft. Nicole Atkins was the perfect way to round out an advertisement that needed to really speak to this important message. “It’s recognizable, but different and it brings more emotion to the images than the original does. We had some internal discussions about pitching this track vs pitching the original, because the original is very iconic. In the end I’m glad we went with this version.” says Goldstoff. They didn’t have to worry about re-records, finding the right voice or sprinkling in the perfect amount of emotional salt for the best and most tasteful impact – all she had to do was “think of [the] emotional female vocal version that [she had] heard earlier that week on Spotify”, and voila, magic.
It’s moments like this that make Ilana Goldstoff’s position so unique, and it just goes to show how powerful an affect the right band can have on a well known brand. As for artist’s waiting for their big sync like Postmodern Jukebox, Goldstoff says that she is “constantly listening and discovering music. Mainly on Spotify, but also other channels. I have a couple of hundred playlists that I created and I always add tracks to those themed lists for inspiration.”
After the success of this spot, Heineken followed with a second instalment of the campaign featuring David Coulthard – another highly commended Formula-1 driver.
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