September 25th, 2007
While I was scoring the last four episodes of Battlestar Galactica’s third season last winter, I also wrote and produced music for a Smirnoff Vodka global marketing campaign.
The impressive visuals give you the basic structure of the Smirnoff family story. It’s actually quite a brilliant little piece, transitioning from war-torn Russia, through Paris, and into contemporary America.
It was screened for an international group of advertisers and played great, except for in the Eastern European markets. They felt like the imagery of the red line flowing through Russian streets like blood would offend some people… (it’s supposed to be a “blood line” after all!). I feared that the whole thing would bite the dust, because they certainly weren’t going to move forward with an international Smirnoff spot that offends Russians. However, they trimmed back on the fluid splashing of the bloodline in a few shots and that seemed to make everybody happy.
We experimented with many different musical possibilities, but eventually discovered that trying to acknowledge all the visual transitions with music cues (for example, having the music become “modern” when we reach America) proved to be more than the spot could handle. The visuals rarely sit still for more than a few seconds, never leaving time for the music to catch up. So, instead the score plays a single character throughout, allowing the visuals to provide all the transitions.
I featured an Eastern European solo fiddle playing against a percussive backdrop. If the music sounds alot like Battlestar Galactica to you, its because I brought back a lot of the Galactica regulars, including M.B. Gordy on taikos, Chris Bleth on woodwinds and Paul Cartwright on solo electric violin, and the track was recorded and co-produced by Galactica engineer Steve Kaplan.
The transition to the Eiffel Tower was a particularly fun moment. Here the music suddenly goes completely dry, almost bringing the spot to a complete halt. But, just as you think it’s going to end, the bloodline appears on the distant horizon and we ramp back up for the big finale.
As you can tell, it’s a lot of story-telling to cram into 60 seconds! The spot is very ambitious, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to work on it. It was a big challenge, but very rewarding nonetheless.
So Say We All,
[UPDATE: Though this was originally intended to air only in international markets, it has since started airing domestically as well]