The 12 syncs of Christmas


For many media commentators Christmas kicks in with the first screening of the new John Lewis TV commercial … and the inevitable speculation over just how big a hit the soundtrack will be.

By peaking at No.11, the department store’s much publicised and spoofed 2015 Man On The Moon sync - a version of Oasis’ Half A World Away by Norwegian newcomer Aurora Aksnes – may not have matched the success of predecessors like Gabrielle Aplin’s Power Of Love and Lily Allen’s Somewhere Only We Know, which rocketed to No.1 in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

But for industry insiders the idea of judging the strength of a sync by its chart position is to look at the world through the wrong end of a telescope. Music Week Award winning music supervisor Abi Leland took over the John Lewis account in 2009 and has subsequently played a pivotal role in developing a signature sound for the brand – based around small-voiced but big-hearted covers of less-than-obvious titles by well-known artists.
“The most important thing of all is to stay focused on serving the film and not try to second guess everyone’s expectations with the music choice,” she says.

Universal Globe’s Adam Gardiner worked closely with Leland Music on the Man On The Moon project as well as other big budget Christmas offers like Jessie J’s reinterpretation for Boots of Kay Starr’s 1950s hit Man With The Bag and a WWF spot starring Will Young on the Bacharach and David evergreen What The World Needs Now.

“The key factor for John Lewis was that the version of the song captured the emotion of the ad,” he says.
 “What really resonated with them was the way that Aurora didn’t simply cover Half The World Away but re-imagined it through her ownartistic sensibility.”

Unfortunately not all brands are quite that musically savvy, according to Soundlounge’s pioneering CEO Ruth Simmons who picked up the Outstanding Contribution gong at this year’s MW Sync Awards ceremony.
“I’m sure that they appreciate the media interest surrounding the use of a particular track,” she continues.

“But ultimately they measure the success of a commercial by the increase in customer spending during the period it’s on TV. My experience is few actually link it to the resonance and effectiveness of the music.”
Tom Stanford, director at market leading supervisor Platinum Rye Entertainment, concurs that the sync business is ultimately about making the best ad possible for the brand.

But he is quick to point out the benefits to the client of a hit sync. “Clearly they want consumers to think of the brand and the advert every time they hear the track played on the radio or streamed.

“But there’s extra pressure at Christmas now that everyone wants to be ‘trending on Twitter’ or being ‘liked’ on Facebook. The music is crucial to success on social media.” This year’s Platinum Rye credits include
high-profile campaigns for Waitrose, Boots, and Vodafone. It also linked Asda with Sax, the debut single by X-Factor 2014 runner-up Fleur East, which became the first big sync hit of the season when it debuted at No.3 on November 19.

Sax isn’t the only commercial which will make 2015 a Christmas to remember at Sony Music, according to Film & TV director Ian Neil. In amongst Wham’s Last Christmas (Carphone Warehouse), Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk (M&S) and Cab Calloway’s Everybody Eats When They Come To My House (Waitrose) is an exhilarating cover by 18-year-old Australian Grace Sewell of Lesley Gore’s 1963 feminist anthem You Don’t Own Me. (see Sync Story page 9)

“If it’s a great spot that is going to help break a song, then of course you want to win the pitch,” says Neil. “But some results are more important than the money. We are here to help artists and labels gain opportunities outside the traditional methods. Asda and House of Fraser prove that the right campaign and the right song can still do that, be it at Christmas or any other time of year.”

Since moving from EMI to Warner Music in 2013 – and thus retaining responsibility for classic 60s and 70s pop singles in the Parlophone catalogue – Rich Robinson expects to start talking to brands and agencies about their Christmas plans while the rest of the industry are still on their summer holidays.

“Our level of involvement varies according to the angle of the campaign and whether they need to look beyond the obvious or have already decided on a specific song,” he says. And while there are noticeably fewer traditional Christmas tunes gracing the ad breaks this year, Warner Music will benefit substantially from premium-priced sync licences issued to TK Maxx – for Otis Redding’s version of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – and a McDonald’s spot which features Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. Not surprisingly the glam era rocker re-entered the Top 200 the week after the ad was first aired.

The 12 syncs of Christmas:

Brand: Asda
Spot: #Becauseitschristmas
Title: Sax
Artist: Fleur East
Master Rights: Sony
Composer: Erfjord, Michelsen, Purcell, Abrahart, East
Publisher:  Universal, Kobalt, Sony/ATV, Copyright Control
Music Supervisor: Platinum Rye
Ad Agency: VCCP
Creative: Mark Orbine, Chris Willis
Film Co:  Moxie Pictures
Director: Neil Gorringe
Air Date: 01/11/15

Brand: Boots
Spot: Discover More
Title: (Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag
Artist: Jessie J
Master Rights: Universal
Composer: Stanley, Brooks, Taylor
Publisher: Warner Chappell
Music Supervisor: Platinum Rye
Ad Agency: Mother
Creative: Mother
Film Co: Supply & Demand/Caviar
Director: Joseph Kahn
Air Date: 08/11/15

Brand: Cadbury
Spot: Cadbury Christmas 2015
Title: Thunderbirds (Main Theme)
Artist: The Barry Gray Orchestra
Master Rights: BMG
Composer: Gray
Publisher: Sony/ATV
Music Supervisor: Wave
Ad Agency: Fallon
Creative: Rob Spicer, Adam Griffin
Film Co: RSA
Director: David Lodge
Air Date: 06/11/15

Brand: Carphone Warehouse
Spot: Keith Lemon Pin Point TV Ad Aussie Christmas
Title: Last Christmas
Artist: Wham!
Master Rights: Sony
Composer: Michael
Publisher: Warner Chappell
Ad Agency: Brothers & Sisters
Creative: Andy Fowler, Will Flack, Zoe Hawkins
Film Co: Hungry Man
Director: Chaplin & Forbes
Air Date: 10/11/15

Brand: House Of Fraser
Spot: #YourRules
Title: You Don’t Own Me
Artist: Grace ft G-Eazy
Master Rights: Sony
Composer: White, Madara
Publisher: Warner Chappell
Ad Agency: I8 Feet & Rising
Creative: Anna Carpen, Oli O’Neill
Film Co: Prettybird
Director: Ace Norton
Air Date: 16/11/15

Brand: John Lewis
Spot: Man On The Moon
Title: Half The World Away
Artist: Aurora
Master Rights: Universal
Composer: Gallagher
Publisher: Sony/ATV
Music Supervisor: Leland Music
Ad Agency: Adam&EveDDB
Creative: Ben Priest, Richard Brin, Ben Tollett
Film Co: Somesuch & Co
Director: Kim Gehrig
Air Date: 06/11/15

Brand: M&S
Spot: The Art Of Christmas
Title: Uptown Funk
Artist: Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars
Master Rights: Sony / Warner
Composer: Bhaskar, Hernandez, Ronson, Gallaspy, Lawrence, Wilson, Wilson, Wilson, Simmons, Taylor, Williams
Publisher: BMG, Imagem, Universal, Sony/ATV, Warner Chappell, New Songs Administration, Songs
Music Supervisor: Native
Ad Agency: RKCR/Y&R
Creative: Mark Roalfe, Adrian Lim, Steve Williams
Film Co: RSA
Director: Christian Larson
Air Date: 06/11/15

Brand: McDonald’s
Spot: Journey To Christmas
Title: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
Artist: Wizzard
Master Rights: Warner
Composer: Wood
Publisher: Sony/ATV
Music Supervisor: Jeff Wayne
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett
Creative: Justin Tindall, Matt Lee, Pete Heyes, Phillip Meyler, Darren Keff
Film Co: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Air Date: 20/11/15

Brand: Sainsbury’s
Spot: Mog’s Christmas Calamity
Title: Marley
Artist: Rachel Portman
Master Rights: Cool Music
Composer: Portman
Publisher: Cool Music
Ad Agency: AMV BBDO
Creative: Adrian Rossi, Alex Grieve, Michael Durban, Tony Strong
Film Co: Outsider
Director: James Rouse
Air Date: 12/11/15

Brand: Temptations
Spot: Say Sorry For The Holidays
Title: Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Artist: Elton John
Master Rights: Universal
Composer: John, Taupin
Publisher: Universal
Music Supervisor: Soundlounge
Ad Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB
Creative: Ben Priest, Ben Tollet, Richard Brim, Rory Hall, Steph Ellis
Film Co: Rattling Stick
Director: Austen Humphries
Air Date: 09/11/15

Brand: TK Maxx
Spot: Christmas 2015
Title: White Christmas
Artist: Otis Redding
Master Rights: Warner
Composer: Berlin
Publisher:  Universal
Music Supervisor:  Major Tom
Ad Agency: Quiet Storm
Creative: Matthew Mifsud, Florence Deary, Ruby Norman-Curren
Film Co:  Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Tony Barry
Air Date:  02/11/15


Brand: Waitrose
Spot: Whatever Makes Your Christmas
Title: Everybody Eats When They Come To My House
Artist: Cab Calloway
Master Rights: Sony
Composer: Burns
Publisher: Sony/ATV
Music Supervisor: Platinum Rye
Ad Agency: Adam&EveDDB
Creative: Ben Priest, Ben Tollett, Richard Brim, Patrick McClelland, Feargal     
Film Co: HLA
Director: Simon Rattigan
Air Date: 04/11/15

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