‘A Star Is Born’ Shines on Spotify

If you’re still singing along with “Shallow,” or weeping quietly to “Always Remember Us This Way,” you’re not alone — A Star Is Born has been a runaway hit in theaters. The Warner Bros. film is the #8 highest-grossing R-rated movie of all-time, and it has surpassed $350M worldwide to date, because it demands to be seen and heard on the big screen. (Not to mention, its music has been nominated for 4 Grammys and a Golden Globe for Best Song.) That’s why Warner Bros. teamed up with Spotify to make their message larger-than-life on the platform with a new 3D audio-video campaign.

“For A Star Is Born, we were looking for breakthrough opportunities that remained true to the film’s themes and tone,” said Andrew Hotz, EVP of Worldwide Digital Marketing at Warner Bros. “Whereas many opportunities were off-brand or gimmicky, we felt this video format with Spotify used technology in a creative and engaging way without detracting from the tone of the film and marketing campaign.”

The ad featured the music of Bradley Cooper’s “Black Eyes” and immersed the audience in a live concert experience. We spoke to Spotify’s Global Head of Industry for Entertainment, Andi Frieder, about how the campaign came to life.

Q: What sparked the idea for Warner Bros. to go beyond a normal ad campaign for A Star Is Born and do something more ambitious?

As we all know, today’s content landscape is an extremely cluttered place to introduce any story. So we wanted to break through in a way that didn’t just cut through the noise, but also showed proper respect to the quality of the film. That’s why we decided to debut this new video technology — because it was able to mirror the surround sound experience of the movie theater and remind users of the magic that would await them on the big screen.

In a way, there’s a natural escalation from the Spotify ad to the movie scene: We delivered a video spot on our platform, for a film we wanted them to see in a theater, that was actually depicting a live concert in an amphitheater.

Q: How did Spotify help Warner Bros. create the 3D audio component of their video campaign?

A few years back, we were looking for ways to enrich our audio storytelling capability and developed a specialized production technique that could deliver audio to the listener in a way where the ears and brain interpret the sounds as being omnidirectional. This allows placement of sound not just to the left and right, but above, behind, and in front of the listener in seemingly 3D space.

We decided to test this merging of sight and 3D sound for the first time in the U.S. with Warner Bros. and our production partner Red Apple. We produced two different spots for A Star Is Born that ran in in nine markets across the globe. And we’re also using the same technology to promote the upcoming Warner Bros. release Aquaman.

"We understand our users as the multi-faceted people they actually are in the real world — and brands have the opportunity to tap into this every day with us."

Andi Frieder, Spotify’s Global Head of Industry for Entertainment

Q: How did the campaign break through the clutter and reach the movie's audience in an innovative way?

Ultimately, the goal was to put a marketing asset into the world that simulated the real human experience we were trying to convince our users to have live in theaters.

And the results were clear — the immersive campaign was effective. It drove significant increases across all brand metrics, including an 18% lift in Ad Recall and a 12% lift in overall Movie Awareness, according to our measurement partner, Nielsen.

Diving further into the results, we saw even stronger performance with a couple of key demos: 18- to 20-year-olds and females. We also saw strong performance among users who saw the campaign more than three times. Essentially, the more times people saw the ad, the more effective it was!

Q: How can other brands and marketers work with Spotify to create more innovative campaigns?

Think about creative ways to tap into our streaming intelligence. Whether it’s through real-time cultural resonance or intimate personalization, we understand our users as the multi-faceted people they actually are in the real world — and brands have the opportunity to tap into this every day with us.

Plus, we’re starting to think about how audio campaigns, and audio content, can work across a wider range of devices. Audio isn’t just about music on a smartphone anymore. We’ve seen consistent growth on the platform of streaming in the car and on smart speakers — which means there are more ways than ever before for brands to reach millions of engaged fans.

We’d love to work with more brands on innovative experiences, using insights from our streaming intelligence to power a campaign that makes sense for them, just as we did for Warner Bros. in this instance.