Ad Infinitum

Branding with Your Eyes Closed

April 24, 2024 Stew Redwine / Joel Beckerman Season 2 Episode 3
Branding with Your Eyes Closed
Ad Infinitum
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Ad Infinitum
Branding with Your Eyes Closed
Apr 24, 2024 Season 2 Episode 3
Stew Redwine / Joel Beckerman

Season 2 of Ad Infinitum continues with Episode 3, “Branding With Your Eyes Closed,” defining and discussing the importance of sonic branding, and then ranking 4 recent top spenders through that lens.

And that’s why this episode's guest is Joel Beckerman - author of The Sonic Boom and Founder of Made Music Studio - a person who is practically synonymous with Sonic Branding whenever it comes up with anyone who is serious about the topic.

In this episode of Ad Infinitum, Stew and Joel discuss the importance of sonic branding in audio advertising. They analyze four recent top spenders in radio advertising and evaluate their sonic branding strategies. The conversation highlights the need for consistency, emotional connection, and clear messaging in sonic branding. They also emphasize the value of frequency and long-term commitment to sonic branding. The episode provides insights and examples for chief audio officers and marketers looking to enhance their audio advertising strategies.


  • Consistency is key in sonic branding to create a recognizable and memorable sonic identity.
  • Sonic branding should evoke an emotional connection with the brand and differentiate it from competitors.
  • Clear messaging and information transfer are important in sonic branding to effectively communicate the brand's value proposition.
  • Frequency and long-term commitment to sonic branding can lead to a significant lift in advertising effectiveness.
  • Creating space for the sonic identity to be heard and designing the messaging around it are crucial for successful sonic branding.

Support the Show.

Ad Infinitum is Presented by Oxford Road, Produced by Caitlyn Spring & Ezra Fox, mixed & sound designed by Zach Hahn, and written & hosted by Stew Redwine.

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Show Notes Transcript

Season 2 of Ad Infinitum continues with Episode 3, “Branding With Your Eyes Closed,” defining and discussing the importance of sonic branding, and then ranking 4 recent top spenders through that lens.

And that’s why this episode's guest is Joel Beckerman - author of The Sonic Boom and Founder of Made Music Studio - a person who is practically synonymous with Sonic Branding whenever it comes up with anyone who is serious about the topic.

In this episode of Ad Infinitum, Stew and Joel discuss the importance of sonic branding in audio advertising. They analyze four recent top spenders in radio advertising and evaluate their sonic branding strategies. The conversation highlights the need for consistency, emotional connection, and clear messaging in sonic branding. They also emphasize the value of frequency and long-term commitment to sonic branding. The episode provides insights and examples for chief audio officers and marketers looking to enhance their audio advertising strategies.


  • Consistency is key in sonic branding to create a recognizable and memorable sonic identity.
  • Sonic branding should evoke an emotional connection with the brand and differentiate it from competitors.
  • Clear messaging and information transfer are important in sonic branding to effectively communicate the brand's value proposition.
  • Frequency and long-term commitment to sonic branding can lead to a significant lift in advertising effectiveness.
  • Creating space for the sonic identity to be heard and designing the messaging around it are crucial for successful sonic branding.

Support the Show.

Ad Infinitum is Presented by Oxford Road, Produced by Caitlyn Spring & Ezra Fox, mixed & sound designed by Zach Hahn, and written & hosted by Stew Redwine.

Stew Redwine (00:00):
Hit it. Ad Infinitum is the only podcast solely focused on audio ads, advertising the creative who make them and are the latest thinking that informs them how the space is evolving. And my favorite part, a roundup of recent audio ads and analysis by yours truly ad campaign Stew Redwine, VP Creative at Oxford Road, and each episode's guest. This is season two, episode three of ad infinitum, and this episode's title is Branding with Your Eyes Closed, defining and Discussing the Importance of Sonic Branding. And then we're going to be ranking four recent top spenders in radio through that lens. And that is why our guest is Joel Beckerman, author of Sonic Boom and Founder of Made Music, a person who is practically synonymous with sonic branding. Whenever the topic comes up with anyone who is serious about it, Joel's name is at the top of the list. So thank you so much for joining Ad Infinitum and a welcome Joel.

Joel Beckerman (00:54):
Pleasure Stu, and thank you so much for the compliment there. It's a nice intro. Can I use that somewhere else too?

Stew Redwine (01:00):
Go right ahead. I'm telling you, anybody that I'm talking to about this as it's becoming more front of mind for many of us in marketing made music and Joel Beckerman comes up again and again and again, and that's this trend like I'm talking about. We're seeing with more and more studies that are out there, which is great. Just in the past couple of weeks, media probe, neuro study revealed that radio advertising is 12% more engaging than TV ads. It's like, oh, okay, that's interesting. And they talk about why that is because of the theater of the mind and the connection in the brain that you're actually not distracted when you're focused on an auditory input. And where I want to hear from you is that yes, we're getting increased attention in this space that it's like, hey, having a Sonic brand helps with recall and helps with intent and we see helps with performance. But this last one, there's 96% more likely to be recalled when it fits the brand, like the importance of taking it seriously and designing it with purpose. That's what I'd like to hear from you about here at first.

Joel Beckerman (01:56):
Yeah, and that's an amazing piece of the research. The other really amazing piece of the research is when you think about if you love the sound associated with the brand, you are more likely to want to have it experienced again. And the corollaries also true if the sound doesn't fit or you don't like it, you're more likely to never have that experience again. So it's pretty potent stuff.

Stew Redwine (02:17):
And when you think about that, how do you get other people on board with taking it deadly serious based on that kind of impact that it can have?

Joel Beckerman (02:25):
Look, we all love data and data is really what it's about now, especially in terms of understanding. We want to know the real impact of what we're doing. So I think data is a big help in this. I think also understanding in campaigns over time, listen, you have visual identities. There are visual identity systems that are consistent. The McDonald's is never going to get rid of the golden arches. These sonic assets are designed to do exactly the same thing, carry you through the entire experience of that brand for your life. So again, these memory triggers are so powerful from a perspective, it's the quickest sense that human beings will react to, which makes it really the arbiter of all our senses because we respond to a quickest and there's a human reason for that and it's survival of the species because you needed to know if the sound on the other side of the bush was going to be your dinner or you are going to become dinner. So this really is something that is basic and so intrinsic, as you're saying, a lot of this is not even stuff you're thinking about it, it operates on this subconscious level which makes it so powerful. So I think it's a combination of data to help people understand it and also to help them feel it, quite frankly. You can see how it makes you feel or gee, I never even thought about that, but instantly that reminds me of that brand. And I think those are the sort of aha moments when you feel it yourself.

Stew Redwine (03:48):
And when you talk about the sonic boom moment that when a sound activates these memories inside of us, it's not just associated with memory, but you talk about how sound is processed there and associates to fear, joy, even our visual perception, physical sensation movement, and even our sense of self when we get these different auditory inputs. And I noticed that in the talks and presentations that I was listening to and preparing to talk to you, that you do a really good job of using sound effects as part of your presentations to deliver the point you're trying to make.

Joel Beckerman (04:22):
Yeah, and I think furthermore really sound is really the most efficient sense. It takes the least amount of time to trigger those boom moments and they have tremendous impact over that very, very short period of time. We actually had a Fortune 100 company client who said, sound is the most leveraged item on our balance sheet. So when you think about all the things that benefit the brand, all the things that benefit sales, they felt that using consistent sonic brand assets really made everything else they did more effective.

Stew Redwine (04:53):
That is an awesome quote. Sound is the most leveraged item on our balance sheet. We found with one of our advertisers that they have a UX sound, a sound that's part of their app that is a positive feedback loop. When a certain thing occurs, you get this sound. And we have integrated that even into live reads where we have hosts play the sound and talk about how it makes them feel. And anecdotally I can say there's a correlation where when we see the compliance with hosts actually using the sound and making it part of their read, we see a direct link there to performance. And that's just incredible to me. I think it's working How much of that is the sonic branding and then how much of that is just that shortcut of them hearing the sound and interacting with it makes them more lively and give a more personal and impassioned connection? I don't know completely, but I do know, like you're saying, data-driven. When we look at it, we see higher compliance on using of the sound effect in the live read, we'd see better performance.

Joel Beckerman (05:51):
And I think in association with that, obviously I'm sure this impacts other aspects of audio podcasts, but having the sound in association with someone you trust that there is an authenticity that I think the idea is it's part of your life, it becomes part of the soundtrack of your life rather than you're being trying to be sold something. So it doesn't surprise me that that data is so much higher.

Stew Redwine (06:15):
And then that's interesting to me is looking at work. They put out a study with iHeart and we've seen this bear out and kind of continue. It's a couple of years old, but 30% of Jane and Joe Publix's time is spent consumer's time in media, 30% of it is spent in audio, but only 10% of ad dollars are spent in audio. So it's three x the time of the amount of spin that goes into the space. And then I got to imagine that it's an even thinner slice of people that are willing to invest in developing a sonic strategy or a sonic identity. Have you found that the case as well as you've been doing made music that audio can be treated as so much of an afterthought? What has your experience been with that?

Joel Beckerman (06:56):
I think spot on, that's been our experience. And again, I think it's just about education. Even though Sonic branding's been around for a little while, I think people are just sort of catching on the power of it. Also, it's not particularly easy to do it, right? Not all sonic branding is created equal, and I think if somebody were to just put a few notes at the end of the spot or a beginning of a spot that may not seem to lift if it's not done correctly, I think the process is very rigorous. It's really about unpacking what a brand should feel like from an emotional standpoint, triggering emotions in terms of listening to music and having those conversations with the marketing teams. Hey, let's make sure that we're all in alignment as to what the brand should sound like or feel like in association with all their communications.

Then the next step really is, okay, now we really need to get into the creative aspect of this and what are we going to design that's going to fit within the landscape of where the brand shows up? Certainly in television advertising, radio advertising, it's fairly straightforward, still powerful, still underutilized. I think one of the really interesting things to look at is all the new media that might be digital media that where those opportunities exist. Thinking about the effectiveness there, for instance, PepsiCo does it right. They really focus on pop culture and really about fan interaction, really being connected to pop culture, creating culture, and also reflecting culture. We were fortunate enough to work on one of their projects for Tostitos where we created a sonic branding system in the theme. And again, you really need to play by the rules of the medium. So TikTok has, again, it's a very engagement focused medium.

So for us to have put out a track and had some influencers rap over the track or sing over the track, do different things in association with the track, it drove 110 million impressions. There were countless duets where different everyday folks spending time on TikTok were engaging with this. And part of it was they were smart enough to develop a contest and that contest, which a relatively modest output contest, honestly, people were doing it for bragging rights more than anything else, but that really drove engagement as well. So I think whether it's traditional media advertising or these sort of more nascent media, I think a lot of people are not necessarily as aware of how effective it is that it really is a need to have now and not a nice to have. As you said, there's so much media now that is audio first or audio only.

It really is the only way for somebody to feel the brand. It's one thing to hear about the brand to have a description or a discussion or talk about benefits of a brand. And it's a whole other thing to hear and feel a brand. And the other thing that's interesting is even in television advertising, and again to your point, people will remember and really connect with and have a sonic boom moment with a brand in television advertising, an association with a normal ad. If you're in the kitchen and you're making a ham sandwich, we call it the ham sandwich factor, and you hear that sonic logo in the other room on tv, even if you're not looking at it, you still have that powerful boom moment of impression as you talked about, which is multisensory

Stew Redwine (10:02):
To me. It's like a boom moment. My personal measuring stick is goosebumps. And if I think about it, I've probably had more goosebumps to songs or some kind of sound. I can think of other moments maybe in a movie or something. But by and large it's mostly sound-based. And to your TikTok point, home Depot had a moment with all of the dad videos on TikTok using the Home Depot beat that are just hilarious. Home Depot's got that song, it's Home Depot, and then it just gets a life of its own out there on TikTok. Yeah,

Joel Beckerman (10:35):
Absolutely. And again, people like to play with those icons. They like to make it their own, even if it's not to say that Home Depot is, but even if it's sort of more goofier marks and think about State Farm, a good neighbor state. So even if you have that on TikTok and people are playing with it, it becomes again something that you are co-creating with this kind of quirky, iconic sound. So it's fun, it's engaging because it's fun. I think just to take a quick step back, you were talking about thinking about films. It's interesting, I think if you went and you did AB testing on that film and you took the sound out, even if you kept the dialogue in, would you feel the same thing?

Stew Redwine (11:14):
No, I wouldn't. I was reading your book and it made me think of that because you talk about watching The Exorcist and all of a sudden you put on clown music and it makes it freaking hilarious. There was some scary movie I was watching with my daughters where I loaded up fart noises from a YouTube video and turned the music off on the scary movie and just started, every time there's a gruesome face or something, there's a fart noise, it changes everything.

Joel Beckerman (11:35):
Maybe if there's a Sonic Boom book too that I can put in the fart noise, I love that example.

Stew Redwine (11:40):
Well, something I wanted to ask you about is I've been digging into this the past couple of years. I've been at Oxford Road since the beginning and we were born in podcasts out of radio into podcasts and scaling D two C brands that want to test and scale in audio. If it works, we'll spend more. And then it's been in the past two, three years that it's like I'm late to the Sonic Branding party, but I've really gotten into it and reading everything that I can like your book and getting to meet people and really just there's that part of me that's curious and excited about it. And at first, I got to admit when I came into it, it was kind of like, it's arbitrary whatever the NBC chimes. But what I've noticed is the ones that have the stain power were very intentionally designed.

The Sonic logos or the Sonic identities, any of the top ones that are going to come to mind if you drill down on the story, they were designed to solve a specific business problem or a functional problem in the case of the chimes right with intent. And so our audience are what we call chief audio officers, which are the people that are in charge of setting and stewarding audio budgets for brands. And it can be a lot of different people, certain size brands, it's the founder and then you go on up the chain, it's the CMO, whoever. So we just call 'em all Chief audio officers. They're the one that's responsible for deploying the dollars in audio and making sure that they work. So I kind of want to do a little definition of terms and of what the most important part is for the chief audio officer as they're approaching sonic branding. And it seems to me that the first thing you need to identify, there's a couple things I guess and maybe you can help me with the taxonomy is I think sonic branding is one thing. Your sonic identity is another thing, and then what specific business problem are you trying to solve? But I'm trying to get my arms wrapped around the lexicon. How do you think of it as what are the base pieces that a person needs to get in their head that's in charge of deploying dollars in audio?

Joel Beckerman (13:28):
I mean, that's a great question, and this really goes back to what we were talking about, about rigor in the process. Not all sonic branding is created equal. Again, a lot of people who are just getting to know this, and it's not to talk down on anybody. This is kind of very specific unique stuff. A lot of times we talk about in our company when we're creating sonic identity systems that the people we're dealing with are experts in absolutely everything in their job except this. And we really need to bring a lot of empathy to that and a lot of patience and discussions. By the way. It's not a one-way conversation. We really need to understand from their perspective what the brand should feel like. And a lot of times, as you're saying, solving a particular business problem, a lot of times it's really about shifting perception.

And a lot of times it's about leading transformations of a brand. When you're talking about taking a brand and moving the positioning forward, a lot of times you can take an existing sonic identity and tweak it, Hey, now we're more about technology. Hey, we're more about what the product does for you. It's really specifically about benefits. There's all sorts of ways to do that. And again, I think to go back what you were talking about, it's not just about a Sonic logo. It's very easy to think about Sonic logos because they're very much present. Usually the sonic logos, there's a lot of at least a certain amount of space that's left for them. But as you were speaking to this, really a sonic identity system, the same way you have a visual identity system, you don't just have a visual logo, you have all the different elements, shapes, colors, guidelines about what you're supposed to use, where you can't have a sonic logo in every experience.

Stew Redwine (15:04):
And what I hear you saying is it's like we need to define a sonic identity system that is going to be deployed using different sonic branding tactics to solve specific business problems. And that taxonomy could be kind of built out in that way. And what I think of is you already have a sonic identity, however you are showing up, you could start there. You can start at, we use a lot of, we have over the years, especially here in the early days with DTC, used a ton of founder as spokesperson and with ads that have a massive amount of frequency, and it's like, well, their sonic identity for now is that founder's voice, right? That's at least a starting place. Hey, however you're currently showing up in audio, as scattered as it may be, let's at least define it and then see if we can pull it into line.

Joel Beckerman (15:49):
I think it's a good point. The question always is does it serve the brand? Is it an element that does serve the brand that, as you've been talking about, increases effectiveness? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But does it make people feel good and do you get credit for it? Getting credit for is a really big part of it. So 20 x value, 20 x performance on the same amount of media spend. What you're pointing to is, again, we were talking about before about having data to help people see the effectiveness. So gee, if it's that effective, maybe it's worth my time to really kind of dig in and understand this even if I haven't done it before.

Stew Redwine (16:22):
Exactly. You're right. And I think the thing that you do well is using some examples where you play some sounds for folks to get them in that frame of mind. Once the heart decides and the head will follow, then we can come in with the facts to back it up to go, Hey, this stuff

Joel Beckerman (16:35):
Works. So really the process is very much about understanding the brand. What should the brand feel like as you talked about what business problems is it solving? And really you want to make sure that the brand sounds unlike any other brand. So this could only be for you. So that exploratory process takes time. You need to look at competitive sets, see what your actual direct competitors are doing, what other people maybe even in different verticals are doing. Again, there's a lot of rigor to this. Then you work on the creative portion, which again we all know is incredibly important because we have to trust our gut in terms of, hey, we're going to have the right sonic boom moment that's being created. And then there are ways to actually apply testing to that as well, which is through implicit association testing. And certainly there may be a lot of people who are familiar to that from other parts of their job. But it's one thing, again, if you ask people only questions that are specifically around conscious experience, I think you miss a dimension that's super important because sound really does impact our subconscious mind. So in this particular implicit association testing, there is a version of this we call Sonic Pulse. Research was designed specifically for audio in this development phase of audio, but if you work through methodology that gets you to a subconscious readout, you can really figure out what solutions are going to really move the

Stew Redwine (17:57):
Needle. Thank you for taking us through that approach, and that's what I've experienced from reading your work and listening to you. And then like I said, all the greatest examples of Sonic branding had a thoughtful measured approach to getting to the final result of the ones that we all know and love. So now let's see how some of the top spenders and audio, these are people that are deploying hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars in radio are showing up in audio and how they make us feel. And the first one is a 15 second spot from Whole Foods. And just to kind of be comparing apples to apples, I chose four advertisers that are top spenders in the month of March, and that is Whole Foods, Xfinity, Comcast and Vix, and specifically Vix Sinex. And the spin against all of these spots is about the same upper hundreds of thousands of dollars against these spots. One of them in particular has much more spend, but let's go ahead and give a listen. So this is a 15 from Whole Foods

Whole Foods Announcer (18:54):
Spring back to Life at Whole Foods Market. Get five yellow mangoes for just four 50 with Prime through March 21st. Brighten up your smoothies and salads and pounce on this deal now while supplies last shop in store or online terms supply.

Stew Redwine (19:09):
All right, so that's the first one, Joel, we'll rate all four of 'em. From a Sonic branding standpoint, what would you rate that at one out of 10, 10 being the best?

Joel Beckerman (19:19):
Well, let's assume that they're consistent with that over time. Really, number one is about consistency. If you use this once, you're not going to really get, I think the benefit. Now, if I listen to this and I think about Whole Foods because a shopper at Whole Foods, it's like, wow, this really kind of connects me to the brand. This sort of feels like it's at least somewhat of a close fit. I want to go there and I want to kind of browse around and relax and kind of look at things and not get a chance to taste things. So it feels very connected. And probably something, again, if they're consistent with it, maybe they did variations that it really could do some good work for them.

Stew Redwine (19:55):
From an audio lytic standpoint, which is the framework that we use to construct and grade ads here at Oxford Road, the high score for an audio lytics graded spot is 90%. That's our goal for all in Market Creative. And this spot came in at a 68%, probably mostly owing to its length, but it's doing a lot right? As far as information transfer, like you said, it feels like Whole Foods Market. It's giving you something specific, it's giving you a specific date with an offer. There could just perhaps be even more of an emotional hook like in the setup. The setup is lacking a little bit and perhaps even though it's a 15, it's short. Is there something that you could substantiate a bit beyond just saying that your Whole Foods market, something about the mangoes or some additional trust boosting that could be added into the spot as well. So it came in at a 68% in Audio lytics, knowing that high score for audio lytics is a 90%, are you willing to give this one a number? Do you want to hear the next one? And then you can give a number based on those two.

Joel Beckerman (20:54):
I'm going to try to defend my position on this because I bet if you only heard a few of these ads with the same piece of music, you would recognize it very quickly. You would have that memory trigger that boom moment in association with this advertising. So I'd be really interested to see how this performs over time.

Stew Redwine (21:13):
And that's a great question, and that's the unfair aspect of Advent infinitum. But what I like about it is everyone's just hearing these ads in the wild and sometimes we can forget just to experience it like other people experience it. So let me pull up the next one here. This next one is for vix. Here we go.

Vicks Sinex Announcer 1 (21:30):
Nothing slows my little girl down except a stuffy nose mommy. That's why I use Sinex Children's Saline from Vix. Sinex instantly clears mucus and everyday stuffy little noses with a gentle ultra fine mist designed for kids just Sinex breathe. Her stuffy nose is gone for now, and so is she.

Vicks Sinex Announcer 2 (21:52):
Sinex Children's Saline, Sinex,

Vicks Sinex Announcer 1 (21:55):
Breathe, uses, directed, keep out of reach of children.

Joel Beckerman (22:00):
It's interesting, I think that the most effective sonic branding here is the kids with the stuffy nose and breathing in whether they can own that sonic brand. I don't know what other people are doing in the vertical, but that's what I would remember. The song is kind of where they underscores. It's a bit innocuous. I guess they use the whistle to sort of have you put you in the mindset of it's for kids, but I don't know if that was their intent around the kid sound, but that's again, theory of the mind and radio. It's very powerful stuff.

Stew Redwine (22:30):
That's a really great point. It's amazing we hear these things, but then we can visualize them in our mind and I think there's a whole bunch that could be explored there. But the point is we know that that's what happens and what you're calling out is that this spot does that. Well, it also graded better with Audio Lytics. It got a 72%, and interestingly, I think it has some of the same gaps that the Whole Foods one did where it's like it's missing some facts, but due to its link that was able to have some more information in there. And again, audio lytics is based on text, like the information that's present. So as you go shorter, to keep a higher score, you've got to make every word really, really, really count. Same kind of stuff with this one only where it's different than Whole Foods is it doesn't have any kind of special offer that could help or even tying into the seasonality or something like that or direct comparison to other options that are out there. Again, these sometimes are tough notes to give because it's like we don't have the time, but sometimes it's shocking how much you can accomplish in even just a short amount of time. So if you had to now assign numbers between Whole Foods and vix or even just say one was better than the other from a sonic branding standpoint, from Joel Beckman's point of view, which one would you rank above the other knowing they're not even the same length? I get that.

Joel Beckerman (23:40):
Well, let's assume for a moment that Whole Foods was an original piece of music. It could be a piece of library music, and you really can't own it from a sonic perspective, but let's assume that it's original. I would have to go with that because I think that as great as the Synex use of sound, I think it would be very hard to own that over time. How many little girls and how many spots are you going to have where you have the same little girl? Now think about Progressive. Okay, progressive Insurance, they've had exactly the same actress for probably 10 years, and she's become in a lot of ways the Sonic brand of Progressive.

Stew Redwine (24:15):
Exactly, yes. We were talking about Sonic Identity Systems and that's really the important part and solving business problems. Okay, it's easy to jump to the tactics part, but if we're in tactics lan, I do think it's like, okay, you've got to be sonically distinct. And I often think there's not much that is equally as distinct as an individual's voice or specifically particular voices, and particularly a voice that we're exposed to a lot that in and of itself, like you're saying, that establishes a sonic brand just using the same voice over and over and over and over again. And to your point, it does connect to the brand because with flow, it's like they're humanizing and personifying this human touch of a very commoditized space.

Joel Beckerman (24:57):
Just to speak a little further to it, you were sort of intimating, it can't be an identity system, it's not going to play everywhere. It's going to really play very well in traditional linear media. Not so much in digital, although you can use it in digital, I imagine, but you can't use it in immersive experiences. You can't use it as a TikTok having some kind of a duet. I'm not sure that would work with Flow.

Stew Redwine (25:20):
So Parson, your point out for the CAOs that are listening flow, the specific voice is a tactic. It cannot be your system is what you're saying. Yeah, I

Joel Beckerman (25:30):
Think absolutely true. And also it's about flexibility. Can you use it everywhere The brand shows up? That's really what we think about. It's we need to come up with the perfect sound that speaks the language of the brand, that solves the business problem, and that can be applied everywhere. That is really the North Star when we've gotten it right, it does all those things. Well,

Stew Redwine (25:49):
Let's see if Comcast does all those things. So here's the next spot. It's for Comcast and this is now a 60 with relatively similar spend as the other ones that we've seen in the month of March on national radio. Here we go.

Comcast Announcer 1 (26:03):
Business. It's all the things that keep this world turning and behind every one of these companies is a partner helping to keep it all moving. It's why the local flower shop and your favorite pizza joint, the startup in the stadium, hospitals and hotels, banks and restaurants nationwide all choose the advanced network cybersecurity solutions and round the clock trusted partnership from Comcast Business, the company that powers more businesses than anyone else. Comcast Business powering possibilities.

Comcast Announcer 2 (26:33):
See why Comcast business powers more small businesses than anyone else. Get started with fast beats and advanced security for $49 a month for 12 months with a two year contract when you add one unlimited mobile line. Plus ask how to get up to an $800 prepaid card with a qualifying gig bundle. Don't wait. Call to switch today ends five, five twenty four restrictions apply new customers only with 100 megabits per second. Internet and security Edge, eBill and autopay required equipment, taxes and fees extra.

Stew Redwine (27:03):
Alright, Joel.

Joel Beckerman (27:04):
Well, I mean from my perspective, there's just no room for the sound to even speak, so I can't imagine that. Well, you certainly can't create a sonic identity if you're not giving the sonic identity some kind of room to speak. The other thing is I would say that this definitely seems to me like a piece of library music. It's somewhat unoffensive or non-offensive. It has a very common little blues riff. It's just a blues track. Again, I don't think this works hard for the brand at

Stew Redwine (27:32):
All. I don't disagree. I also think this one feels to me like somebody heard that having two voices in a radio spot performs better than one, which is what the research shows. So they did 30 seconds with one voice and then 30 seconds with the other. It sounds like two, there's the male VO at the beginning, that was a 30 that we just listened to in total, and then there was a second 30 with the female voice where there's nothing that's making this thing sing. From an audio lytics standpoint, good amount of information is transmitted, it's got a 75%, but it's still not where we would want something to be. And that is, it's lacking an emotional connection at the beginning. It starts business. It's just a pretty direct way to let you know what we're going to be talking about here. So there's more we could work with from a message standpoint, but from a sonic identity standpoint, there's nothing here to me that signals, I mean, this could be anybody, right?

Joel Beckerman (28:29):
I would agree. And I think the other point that you made earlier, Stu, which I think is super important, is that these ads need to be designed with Sonic in mind. You can't just throw sound or music underneath something that's already been created. I think this is really rule number one. If as a brand you can't commit to utilizing the sonic identity in a way that it can do work for you, which is to leave a little space for it to be strategic about where you put it in spots, unless it's really a mandatory, it's not going to do work for you, quite frankly, it's really not worth doing sonic branding unless you're going to commit to it and being consistent and designing the messaging around

Stew Redwine (29:09):
It. Exactly. Unless you're going to do it well and be thoughtful on how to approach it, then honestly your best bet is probably to do less. And that's where just recently there was one more study that I wanted to mention that Veritonic had partnered with Real Eyes where they did an audio attention study and that they arrived at what has long been a go to market position for Oxford Road when someone's new to audio is that we've taken the position of less distraction of single speaking voice, no sound design, no music for a clearer signal for a test, really clearly articulate your message using the audio lytics formula and just have a single voice that does the work for you. And this recent study with Veritonic came out with data that showed that ads that have less competing elements performed better as far with attention quality.

And I don't want to say with that, then that's what you should always do. I'm really saying that to say if you're going up against a spot like this that has more, I'll say it so you don't have to, has more sonic trash in it like you call out in your book, you'd be better off doing one of these voices with nothing behind it and just dialing in your message and making every word work hard or do what you're saying, really commit to sonic branding and create the space to do that. So we have one more advertiser, we'll see if they are doing that. We're going to listen to a spot from Xfinity. It is also a 60, and this spot in particular has as of our view in Vivids almost a million dollars of spend against this spot. Blows my mind, Joel, someone spent a million dollars. Okay, here we go. This is what a million dollars sounds like, buddy.

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Stew Redwine (31:42):
So that one came in at a 70% with audio lytics, it was lacking some more specific demonstration is the key component we talk about, which is how something works, which it might kind of feel like, well, I thought it did. They're talking to a degree about how you experience it, but they could be more explicit and clear about exactly what's on offer. Again, this one suffers in the setup where how do we get into the ad as well as it could improve in scarcity and stacking itself up against the competitors. But from a message standpoint, 70%, all of these scores, 68, 72, 75, 70 aren't shocking to me. It's kind of what I'm used to seeing. And then it's like, okay, let's get in the gym and let's get more clear about our competition or just make our words work a little bit harder guys and get this thing up to fighting form. But from a sonic branding standpoint so far, I mean all of these are feeling pretty lackluster. Did you hear anything different here with Xfinity? Well,

Joel Beckerman (32:34):
Again, I don't see how this specifically connects to their brand and not it could really be anyone in their space. I do need to point out one thing that from a production standpoint did seem really like somebody sort of knew that a music change going to a different section of music over a little bit of space and voiceover, that that will grab people's attention. Unfortunately, I don't think there was anything that was memorable or specifically connected to their brand, but that idea of being able to leave space to essentially design around music to think about it that way, there at least was some thought around that.

Stew Redwine (33:13):
So you'd give them some points for that. So if I was going to rank these using the Joel Beckerman system, I think I've got it. It would be Whole Foods, VIX, Xfinity, Comcast.

Joel Beckerman (33:23):
I think you got it.

Stew Redwine (33:24):
Exactly. Okay. And Alytics had 'em in the order of Comcast, vix, Xfinity Whole Foods. But like I said, all of these are within pretty much the same zone. I think the stuff that you're calling out and calling our attention to. I think just to be clear for the CIOs, I think the observation you just made on Xfinity is interesting about at least there was some intentionality. But if we're to take the two extreme examples, whole Foods is number one and Comcast is number four. If you had three rules of the road or why you graded 'em that way, for those chief audio officers that are listening, what would those be?

Joel Beckerman (33:57):
First of all, just to say I'd be really interested if they did the Sonic branding, how much of a lift they would see. So as you said, these were somewhat successful all basically in the same range, but there are definitely missed opportunities here. That would be great to sort of see what that would be. So again, just to sort of recap the idea of what the music is doing for Whole Foods is it feels brand connected. It feels like it has some kind of a sound. Again, I don't know if this is original or library, but there is a Lodic idea with a whistle to it, which feels somewhat unique. I think somewhat ownable with the right frequency. I feel like that did a lot to lift. What was there? A couple of things that they did was they did leave space for the messaging.

I wouldn't call this sonic trash. It certainly was not competing with the messaging. It certainly wasn't annoying. We talked about that 86% not wanting to have that experience. Again, I think this one would fit in the 86% of wanting to have this experience. Again. The other thing that they did, and again, I suspect that if there were a group of spots, a number of messages that came across over the course of several quarters, that Sonic brand or Sonic identity would become instantly recognizable. I don't think people would have to even hear the words Whole Foods and know who it is, which is enormously valuable. And

Stew Redwine (35:21):
So that last point is really something you've come back to a lot, which is the value of this stuff over time.

Joel Beckerman (35:26):
Yeah, I'm sure it's no surprise to any of the chief audio officers that as you've coined the phrase, that frequency really matters and it especially matters in sonic branding because again, there's such a huge lift that's available in the consistency. Just from our experience, anecdotally 18 months into a sonic branding program, if you're consistent with it, you can see a real lift in terms of the effectiveness of the advertising. I

Stew Redwine (35:53):
Believe it. I mean, one of the big voices in radio advertising from the past couple of decades back is this guy Roy Williams out of Austin, Texas, and that's something he talks about a lot. He doesn't even want to look at a schedule. We're talking about a radio schedule that isn't a year commitment, right? There's just something about audio that intrinsically seems to work better the longer you're committed to it.

Joel Beckerman (36:16):
I mean, you're building memory triggers and that's particularly really what makes audio so effective.

Farmers Insurance (36:23):
We are farmers

State Farm Insurance (36:28):
Like a good neighbor.

Stew Redwine (36:32):
Thank you, Joel. This has been a great conversation. Awesome to meet you and talk about all this stuff and then go through some real world examples with you. And just again, to recap for the Chief Audio Officers, what we heard in the spots that we're doing it wrong was like they're doing a couple of things they could do better. We could hit the gym and kind of get in fighting form, but let's focus on who's doing it right? Whole Foods, if nothing else, have music that feels connected to your brand, create some space even in a 15 second. And just the value of being committed over time. If you were just to do those three things, you are going to see a positive impact. I'm convinced. Of course you are. Thank you Joel for joining at Infinitum. And where can people find you?

Joel Beckerman (37:14):
We Also the shameless plug on the book, the Sonic boom. You covered a lot of great elements of that and I think there's even some more detail that might be informative and also amusing. No

Stew Redwine (37:27):
Question. I highly recommend reading the Sonic Boom. Just like you said, it's outstanding and it just lays it out. And frankly, there aren't a ton of resources out there, particularly from practitioners. So that's what I like about Sonic Boom is you've done it and you can talk about real world examples, which obviously I'm all about real world examples. So thanks again. And if you've got aspects of audio advertising you'd like us to discuss or suggestions for a guest on the show or want to be a guest, please email And until our next show, remember to have fun making the ads work.

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