There's no shortage of competition in the streaming music world, with major brands fiercely vying for consumers' attention. So when Anomaly was tasked with launching YouTube Music, the agency knew they needed to create something that would demand attention.
“The music streaming category is well-established, and few consumers are actively seeking a new music service,” explains Anomaly's Chief Strategy Officer Gareth Goodall. “We really needed to cut-through and make people care about a new music service by framing it in a way that perhaps the competition had never done before. Key to success was identifying a music lover that had historically been under-serviced by other streaming companies.”
This meant shifting their focus to a broader and more representative set of people – including BAME individuals as well as those that identify as non-binary – and playing with viewers' expectations of the stories these people would have to tell, and the music they'd be listening to.
Instead of showing people in social scenarios, enjoying music with groups of friends and at parties, Anomaly decided to focus on a more personal relationship. For many people, their connection to music goes much deeper than background noise – it's a “jacknife for their emotions”, as Goodall describes it. These were the people Anomaly wanted to spotlight, shining a light on the way they used music to help define who they are.
“The ethos of YouTube as a company is as a platform for very human company: personal self-expression, freedom to be yourself, freedom to belong,” says the strategy officer. “When you're building from that foundation, evoking a sense of human feeling is the first priority.”
Anomaly knew that casting would be an essential part of crafting an authentic campaign, as well as one that truly represented a diverse set of people. For Afsa's Theme – which follows a woman effortlessly rapping along to Blackalicious's impossibly wordy Alphabet Aerobics – the agency reached out to the Muslim community and cast through mosques, finally finding Afsa after the actor free-styled Lauryn Hill for her audition and “blew everyone in the room away”.
The agency also worked closely with “superlative storyteller” and director Lance Acord, who ffinessed details from the script. This saw the original narrative for Alex's Theme adapted to add an extra layer of richness, showing the life he leads outside of his room, as well as the new identity he adopts while listening to Elliphant and Big Freedia's Club Now Skunk.
“Nothing could be more important than representing people of all kinds,” says Goodall. “It's inspiring to work with a client like YouTube who is so committed to doing so, not just in this Music campaign but across all of their work.”