Dec 18, 2010, 14:50

When producing a TV commercial, only enlightened creative teams consider the idea of context – how will this spot come across when book ended between an engaging TV show and a local car dealer spot? Corona’s ad agency of record, Cramer-Krasselt (based in Chicago) exploited this creative parameter to its maximum years ago when TV viewers such as myself were lulled in by nothing more than a tropical beach and the sound of waves. The ambient soundtrack could have easily been sold at Brooks Brothers as a sleep machine. And the footage could have easily doubled as your screen saver (maybe it did!). This is a prime example where a spot’s effectiveness is all in the context.

The Corona campaign was also effective from a revenue standpoint. Cramer-Krasselt’s website says it became. “..part of the single biggest turnarounds in beerdom: a climb from 6 million cases sold [annually] to more than 130 million.”

These 30 second escapes, nestled right in the middle of our TV couch time, were clearly meaningful to us. So imagine my surprise when Corona pulled off the same hypnotic effect, but this time with a song – specifically “Secret Sun” performed by Jesse Harris.

Corona “Find Your Beach”

Singer/songwriter Jesse Harris is best known for his songwriting on Norah Jones’s album Come Away with Me, including the single “Don’t Know Why” for which Harris won a Grammy Award. He has released ten full-length albums as a solo artist or group member and also produced the motion picture soundtrack to the The Hottest State, directed by Ethan Hawke.

Cramer-Krasselt was kind enough to let me interview group creative director Andrew Meyer about how a musically-driven spot was borne from a campaign known for having no music at all. Because Andrew’s work often takes him to locations with limited or no internet access, this interview was conducted via email.

The Interview

MusicRevolution: Lack of music has been such a signature part of the original Corona
spots. Did the decision to depart from that approach trigger a song search? Or was the song so good it warranted a different approach. I guess that’s a “chicken or egg” question.

Andrew Meyer: We knew the spot would have to be music-driven, that we would need a great
song to bring emotional resonance to the concept. It was a very big deal for us, as we've never
really had a music-driven spot in the campaign. It generated a lot of great discussion- What would
the perfect Corona song be? Is there one song that could embody what the brand stands for?
We realized we had to take that pressure off, not think about one song that says everything,
but rather one song that is perfect for the spot.

MR: Were the scenes shot before or after the song was chosen?

AM: The scenes were shot before the final song was chosen. We did have a short list of
songs with us for inspiration, to establish the mood as we rolled film. Jesse's track was
part of that short playlist.

MR: How did you first discover the song? For example, was it submitted by
an outside firm as part of a commissioned music search? Or maybe someone
at the agency had a connection to the artist?

AM: I first got introduced to Jesse's work from his songwriting for Nora Jones. I remember
hearing his track "The Secret Sun" from the soundtrack for "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"
and thinking what a gem it was, it just had this wonderfully laconic pace and great vibe.
As a former drummer myself, I loved the kind of Texas waltz, laid-back 3/4 shuffle.

MR: Are there any outside firms you wish to recognize for the audio
production? Was there an audio sweetening process that was necessary for
this spot?

AM: I have to thank Jesse Harris himself first and foremost. We needed to step the tempo
up just a bit to match our cut of the commercial, and Jesse said why don't you just come
out to New York and we'll record a fresh version, exclusive to Corona? So Jesse pulled a
couple of great musicians, and we recorded the version we used in the spot at this great
old rock & roll studio in New York, Avatar on 53rd street. They have a space with a high
ceiling and wooden walls to create a great, warm ambient sound. Jesse couldn't have
been a nicer guy or better to work with. Five minutes after he left the studio, he texted
me to thank me again and make sure I was happy.

MR: Were there other songs being considered for the spot that made it a
tough decision? I'd like to imagine heated debates where everyone has
their favorite submission, but that might have to wait for the reality show.

AM: Of course. We had a few songs that we played with. I'm always amazed at how
a different track can radically change the feel of a spot, more than any other thing you
can change. It's one of the really fun parts of this business, as someone who's into
music, it feels really good to help expose an artist you like to more people. In the end, Jesse's
song was obviously the right and natural choice, it just hit home and felt great.

One last thing: Here's a little behind-the-scenes film I shot on my iPhone as well as a free
download of the track on Corona's Facebook page,


Big thanks for Andrew for taking the time to answer our questions. And an even bigger thanks to him and his creative team for setting the bar high for quality broadcast advertising.

Here is the original full length version of “Secret Sun” by Jesse Harris. Enjoy:


Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of, a production music marketplace where media producers and business owners can license high-quality, affordable music from a online community of musicians.

Leave a Reply