Soundcloud's Ominous Audio Recreation of the Berlin Wall Takes Radio Grand Prix at Cannes
The 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity Radio Jury made an unconventional pick for this year's Grand Prix winner -- a self-promotional piece for Soundcloud that replicated the Berlin Wall through audio.
Created out of Grey Berlin, the campaign was created to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It bears particular relevance to SoundCloud since the company's offices are based in the original "Todesstreifen" ("Death Zone Area") around the wall. The effort is a disturbing audio experience that combines excerpts from speeches of leaders of the German Democratic Republic, border guards and ominous, atmospheric sounds.
It lasts more than seven and a half minutes, the time it takes for sound to travel the 155 kilometers of the wall. As it plays, the experience manifests in the Soundcloud audio visualizer in the shape of the wall itself, and along the way, the various sounds are tagged with the names and experiences of men, women and children who died near the wall trying to escape to their freedom.
"This year's choice was very, very different and very, very inspirational," said Jury President Paul Reardon, executive creative director of Whybin/TBWA Melbourne. "In the year of 2015, when audio and radio on a global level seem to be making headlines every second week--whether its the advance of digital radio, Spotify or Apple collaborating with Beats -- this is a really relevant piece. "
Why it won:
"It's harrowing, it's macabre and it's a memorial to the Berlin Wall," Mr. Reardon said. "For us, it was a really interesting, fresh way of looking at radio in light of how it's consumed these days. You could argue it's for a niche audience, but the way we interact with radio is changing rapidly. For Soundcloud to remind people of what radio can do and how many levels it can do it, it seemed relevant, on top of being strategic, an original idea and flawlessly executed."
Controversy or clear winner?
The official name of the campaign is "The Berlin Wall of Sound - The Most Unbearable Radio Ad." But Mr. Reardon said, "I think they got this title wrong. We heard 30-second, minute-long ads that were far more unbearable. This was seven and a half-plus minutes of macabre sounds, horrible feelings. It was an incredibly produced piece and you're left with this feeling of dread and sobriety. If you think about the role a memorial should play, it really is a pretty amazing, effective piece. It's more of an audio museum than a spot."