When most people think of Rhianna, they’re likely to imagine her on stage, drenched in light, belting out her megahits in front of thousands. We’ll bet that little thought is given to minutes just before she steps out in front of a roaring audience, let alone her journey from obscurity to superstardom.
These quiet moments of self-reflection are at the core of #TheWorldIsListening, the campaign from the Recording Academy for the 2013 Grammy telecast. Created by TBWA\Chiat\Day, the work takes viewers behind the scenes, beyond the fame and down to the roots of music.
Grittier and more stripped down than previous Grammy campaigns, which were all glam and glitz, #TheWorldIsListening features established celebs, up-and-comers, and amateurs all toiling away at their chosen craft. In the anthem spot, musicians are shown doing their thing: from space-rockers Moon Duo silently loading their gear into a car in the rain to Snoop Lion warming up, right down to a young girl practicing her piano. In "Slammed Door" Rihanna reveals the challenges she faced before breaking it big. And 10-second spots featuring more niche acts like Simian Mobile Disco, Dengue Fever, and Jonathan Wilson provide brief glimpses into the real world of jamming, performing, and songwriting.
TBWA creative director Patrick Condo says that after six years of working with the Recording Academy on its Grammy campaign, it was time for a new direction. "Having run out of things to do in the star-focused realm—I say that half jokingly—we starting thinking what if we just focused on the music and stripped out the fame thing. Not to say we wouldn’t use stars or famous artists, but if we did we’d strip the fame away and focus on their music, to capture a really magical off-the-cuff moment without the all the trappings of stardom. In doing so I think you really isolated the music."
"Even when we do use those big artists, like Rihanna or the Black Keys, we’re not showing them the high glamour moments," adds TBWA creative director Bob Rayburn. "We’ve got Rihanna backstage and the Black Keys are in a sound check, so there’s a lot to keep it authentic."
Yet the campaign is much more than a lo-fi love-note to musicianship. Where previous efforts had some nifty online components—from a site that mapped musical DNA to one that incorporated fan photos—the Grammy Amplifier delivers on the campaign line #TheWorldIsListening" with a music discovery engine that encourages bands to upload their music and fans to share (or amplify) their favorites. What’s more, a selection of top artists—including RZA, Kelly Clarkson, Ozzy Osborne, and Linkin Park—will cherry-pick their favorite submissions and amplify them out to their massive online audiences.
The idea is in keeping with the fact that the 2012 Grammy telecast was at the time the most social TV event in history (which also provided inspiration for the hashtag-adorned tagline) and the Recording Academy’s goal of creating the most shareable communications possible.
"We always look at what we do from the standpoint of making sure it’s sharable," says Evan Greene, Recording Academy chief marketing officer. "We want to use the power of social to not only drive the campaign but amplify the conversation and highlight the artists along their journey. If we can empower discovery, we think that’s very valuable."