Sonos has unveiled its contender in the voice-activated smart speaker market, the Sonos One, and along with it, a new campaign that leverages the music, names and tracks of 40 top recording artists to show how the brand can help you "reset" the mood of your home.
One spot, for example, shows a teenage boy crying in his room. "Play 'Incomplete Kisses' by Sampha," he says, falling back on his bed. When his mother knocks on the door, he commands the device to "Play hardcore," changing the audio to a glaring tune, until Mom walks in and sees her weepy son. "Play last song," she says, and the song switches back. "From heartbreak to healing," the copy reads.
Another shows a man setting out dinner, playing a romantic tune but pausing it when he realizes his wife will be home late from work. When she arrives, still mired in job stress, he taps the speaker and she decompresses. "Play song in the bedroom," she commands. Copy then reads, "From working late to midnight date," followed by the tagline, "The smart speaker for music lovers."
"The core idea is that the right song, at the right moment, can really reset the mood and transform your experience," says Sonos VP of Global Brand Dmitri Siegel. Instead of relying on a single, anthemic tune, multiple songs, genres and artists drive the storylines. "It's about the diversity of moments, not looking at what is the coolest or newest song, but what's the right piece of music for the moment?"
On voice activation, the campaign purposefully steers away from the productivity angle highlighted in marketing for other voice-activated speakers. Sonos One works with Amazon's Alexa and is slated to work with Google Assistant, but "we built the Sonos One first and foremost for music," says Siegel. While competitors are "built for utility, that's not our vision for the connected home." This idea starts right from the product itself, with an interface and sound quality designed specifically not to distract. "Our vision is to help you become more connected to the people you're there with, give you presence of mind in your own home. It's about allowing you to experience culture, not about making you stressed out."
Sonos conceived the integrated effort with agencies Anomaly and Cornerstone, and worked with artists including Pearl Jam, Grace Jones, Radiohead, Kraftwerk, the Talking Heads, Solange Knowles and Kendrick Lamar, some of whom have been historically averse to being involved in advertising promotion.
According to Sonos CMO Joy Howard, "It really hit home for us a year or two ago when we realized how critical any kind of music selection would be for us as a brand, so we formed an in-house team dedicated to working with artists and their partners."
Targeted video ads also speak specifically to music fans. "If you're about to watch a clip of Doc Watson flatpicking an incredible shred, it will have a piece that speaks to bluegrass fans, or if you're watching Kraftwerk playing 'Tran Europe Express,' we'll mention Kraftwerk in the creative," says Howard.
The campaign also features print ads with witty copy conveying the '"mood shift" idea, with lines such as "From work to Kraftwerk"; "From daily grind to Pearl Jam"; "From bored to Bowie."
Other visually-driven ads look like pure pop art and feature bold brightly-colored, graphic lips inspired by iconic mouths of the music world, from the Rolling Stones to Rocky Horror Picture Show. Illustrator Karan Singh was behind those lip images, while Sonos also tapped artist Brian Calvin to conceive lip paintings on display at Sonos' retail store in New York City.
"When we do advertising, we have this philosophy that when you contribute to culture, you don't need to interrupt it," says Howard. "We want to create something ideally that's a joy to look at, but works as advertising."