A Viral Marketer, An Orchestra, And A Brewmaster Walk Into A Bar…

Thanks to the seemingly endless creativity among the folks who marketing beer, Victoria Bitter (a brand in the Fosters chain commonly referred to as VB) launched a viral ad campaign toward the end of 2007 that featured 95 musicians from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria performing solely on 451 VB bottles and 6 timpani. Composer Cezary Skubiszewski arranged the 40-year-old VB theme music and conducted the ensemble which recorded the video, featured to your right, at the Melbourne Concert Hall.

Vb_symphony_1600x1200_05_2
Much like the recent fascinating viral ad campaign from Ford Motor
Company, VB has created a microsite where you can see a higher quality
version of the video (but sadly, can’t download it or embed it into a
blog) as well as an entirely wonderful "behind the scenes" video which
examines how the idea moved from concept to creation. The latter video
features interviews with several Melbourne Symphony musicians as they
discuss they very real challenges of making worthwhile music with beer
bottles, as one unidentified musician explains,

Normally when you sort of [whop] play on a bottle, you don’t
expect to make anything more than just a sound. But actually having to
produce a specific pitch at a specific time is really hard.

Vb_symphony_1600x1200_04_2 Of the musicians who identified themselves before speaking on the
video, the majority were brass players (trumpet players in particular)
and whether or not the folks editing the video were even the slightest
bit aware of musician stereotypes, they made the add-on video that much
more entertaining to folks inside the orchestra business. Along with
the high resolution photos featured throughout this post, you can
download a very nice ring tone featuring an excerpt of the VB
Symphony’s performance. It’s already on my phone and yes, it’s assigned
to some brass player friends who are also Australian.

Vb_symphony_1600x1200_01 As a side note, once you’ve listened to the VB theme in the above
video tell me it doesn’t sound an awful lot like an inverted version of
the theme to The Magnificent Seven. Just for fun, I put together a quick sound clip with excerpts from the original VB theme, followed by the theme to The Magnificent Seven, followed by the VB theme as performed by the VB Symphony. click to listen

Vb_symphony_1600x1200_02 From an administrative point of view, can you imagine how much beer
you could sell from concert concessions if your orchestra took part in
something like this? That should put a smile on the faces of more than a
few CFOs. Overall, I have to say the ad campaign is pretty effective.
I’m not a big beer drinker but after watching the vids I really want to have a VB after work.  I also want to go to a Melbourne Symphony concert.

Thanks to a special reader for pointing the video out to me earlier this week!

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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2 thoughts on “A Viral Marketer, An Orchestra, And A Brewmaster Walk Into A Bar…

  1. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

    This is exactly the type of viral marketing and guerilla tactics that arts organizations need to look at and emulate. And, working with a company (or I believe a Sponsor) to front the cost.

    Brilliant!

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