Dec 4, 2012, 17:45

We’d all like to think that bands live in an economic bubble and just wake up everyday just for the music. And that being placed in the center of an international ad campaign doesn’t affect the music thereafter. But it does. All gossip among musicians hangs on name-dropping. Many of us creative folks base entire career decisions on how many recognizable brands or peers were mentioned in a single conversation.

No doubt the word “Heineken” has by now become a big part of the conversation for an Australian-based band called Clairy Browne & the Bangin Rackettes.

A little over a year ago, the band was promoting their self-titled debut album (available on iTunes) when they caught word of a music search being conducted by Heineken’s ad agency TBWA. A few sessions later (I suspect) this amazing song was produced, which has the retro appeal of a brand new, big-ass bedroom dresser coated with antique gel:

The creative team at TBWA, Sander Volleman and Niels de Kuiper, was kind of enough to answer our request for an interview about this incredible music-driven spot:

Q: Is this commercial part of a larger creative campaign? If so, how does it tie into TBWA’s overall strategy for the Heineken brand?

A: The Switch is part of the ‘Star Serve’ campaign in which Heineken demonstrates its passion and love for beer and the ‘perfect serve’. The message is that when Heineken is served perfectly, the beer tastes better and there is a big difference that you can actually taste. In addition to the television commercial, the campaign comprises other elements including a Facebook app and a ‘Star Serve’ B2B program that gives bars the chance to gain Star Serve status.

Q: How did you first discover the Clairy Browne song? For example, was it submitted by an outside company as part of a commissioned music search? Or did perhaps someone at the agency have a connection to the artist?

A: We looked for a song that would fit the retro-chic feel of the classy bar, while at the same time would add to the raw mechanic changes happening throughout the film. We felt the score also had to be catchy. And that the artist should be someone who is relatively unknown, but who has international potential. Clairy Browne was spot on.

Q: Are there any outside companies you would like to acknowledge for the audio/music production?

A: Massive Music introduced us to the raspy retro sound of Clairy Browne and her Bangin’ Rackettes. As for the audio in the commercial, we wanted it to capture the realness of all the revolving walls and collapsing floors. It has to be impressive and big, but without becoming too bombastic. It’s not a Hollywood special effects commercial; it’s oily machinery and greasy bolts. We think the sound engineers of The Ambassadors did a great job.

Q: Were other songs considered for the commercial that
made it a tough decision? We know there can sometimes be a
lot of back-and-forth debate during this process. (*For some
reason we never get a juicy answer on this one. LOL*).

A: We are suckers for juicy stories, and we’re certainly familiar with
back-and-forth debates. But in this case, we’re sad – and happy to be
honest – to say that Clairy Browne was our favorite from the beginning. It is funny that every detail in the commercial was debated and discussed. The lights, the clothes, the little ornaments on the wall – everything. Except the music. Everyone agreed on it immediately.

Q: Any fun stories to share about the creative process while
conceiving, shooting or doing post-production for this commercial?

A: We thought we knew what it felt like to witness a script coming to life on a
set. But that all changed when we experienced the process with a line like “And then we throw in a shark”. Or: “From under the floor, the singer (head down) rotates into frame”. It was great fun.

We at tip our business-strategy hats to the folks at TWBA for integrating the word “B2B” into this campaign. Folks can’t drink the beer if the bar owner doesn’t stock it. Well done there, mates.

Quick note to Clairy:

When I watch your band’s YouTube videos, it seems you sometimes have a nervous look in your eye, as if you’re expecting that villian from the Little Mermaid to show up at any minute and demand that beautiful voice back.

Listen to me, honey. No one’s gonna take that voice away. In fact, Heineken built an entire TV commercial around it. Look me in the eye and sing right into my guts. You deserve to be there.


Media producers looking to add a funky, retro vibe to their videos should check out this funky retro production music track on Over 300 tracks come up when you do a music search for “retro”.

Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of, a production music marketplace with over 18,000 tracks online where media producers, video producers, filmmakers, game developers, businesses and other music buyers can license high-quality, affordable royalty-free music from an online community of musicians

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