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Vivendi

Mess to Music

Mess to Music

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

November 18, 2019

Havas London and Universal Music Group team up to transform ocean plastic into unique records.

"This is a prime example of our Vivendi partnership in action—it was a real and proper collaboration from the start"

Havas London and Universal Music Group joined forces again in a new campaign intent on demonstrating just how much damage has been caused to British coastlines by pollution. The collaborative effort produced “Ocean Vinyl,” a purpose-driven campaign that highlights Sharp’s Brewery and musician Nick Mulvey, who are both making noise about unsustainable production practices within the music industry.

On October 2, the Cornish brewery and the Mercury Prize nominee celebrated the launch of “In the Anthropocene, a track pressed onto 105 beautiful records made of recycled plastic plucked from the ocean. This campaign comes one year after Havas London and Sharp’s Brewery partnered with Berlin-based composer Sebastian Plano, as part of the impactfulKeynvor” campaign. “In the Anthropocene”, crafted with the sounds of the ocean, aims to empower change by reinvesting its proceeds to rectify the damage that’s been done and advocating for sustainability through a partnership with Surfers Against Sewage.

To promote the launch of the track, the agency created a film exploring the making of the record, while fellow Havas agency One Green Bean handled a consumer PR campaign.

UK and Group Chief Creative Officer Mark Whelan talks about how “Ocean Vinyl” came to fruition and the array of opportunities Vivendi has opened for the Havas network.

 

This project comes a year after the signing of “Keynvor” and the collaboration with Sebastian Plano. How did this new campaign come about?

Last year was a great success but we knew we needed something new to take it up a level. We were talking about the tension around beautiful music for an ugly issue and that led to the idea of creating something beautiful from ugly plastic waste. We had seen sculptures crafted from plastic waste before, but to continue the theme, it made sense for it to be a record. This also gave us a neat bit of language, with the idea that ocean plastic becomes ocean vinyl.

To choose an artist, we thought about what we had already done with Sebastian, and approached our friends at Vivendi with a brief to find something a bit different. We wanted to work with someone who cared about the subject. Universal Music Group (UMG) suggested Nick Mulvey, an incredible artist and activist, who has already been vocal around the issue.

How did Nick Mulvey and UMG get involved? Why was Nick a good choice for this campaign?

When we do a musical collaboration, we always go to UMG first because they help make sure we work with artists who are appropriate to a brand’s message. For Britain’s Beer Alliance’s “Long Live the Local” pro-pub campaign, for example, they found us the incredible British band, Slaves, whose career literally began in pubs.

Authenticity is always the most important thing, so as well as appropriateness, you want an artist who actually cares and identifies with the subject matter. Nick was a natural fit, not just on that front, but musically and lyrically as well. Cornwall is a really mystical place. And his music is the perfect embodiment of Cornwall.

Tell us a little about the process of making the vinyl record.

We collected plastic from beaches in Cornwall and found a Californian guy who uses innovative techniques to make bespoke records. He quite literally turned ocean waste into a playable record. We collected enough plastic to make 105 records, which sold out in minutes.

"Authenticity is always the most important thing—you want an artist who actually cares and identifies with the subject matter"

Is there a particular reason to focus on the music industry when it comes to sustainability issues?

The music industry, like any other, is challenged with sustainability issues—from tackling single-use plastic cups at gigs to unsustainable vinyl production practices. However, the intention was not to call out the music industry—this is about using the power of music to call out ocean pollution and create a thing of beauty from an ugly truth. That’s what makes this so powerful.

It’s using entertainment to carry a serious message. The website got 240% more traffic post-launch and all proceeds went to a local conservation charity called Surfers Against Sewage. As well as raising awareness, it’s doing some tangible good in the world.

The good thing was that it was noticed by the music industry. A story ran in Billboard and there was a feature about the project on BBC.

Was there a specific mood you were hoping to capture? What makes the ocean a good sonic pairing when creating a song?

We were trying to capture the real beauty, mysticism, and romance of Cornwall. If you’re from or are familiar with that area—as our clients at Sharp’s Brewery are—the beaches of Cornwall are magical. 

You have the lapping waters of the Atlantic, a rugged coastline, dramatic cliffs. But its magic is being spoilt by plastic and litter. Nick did an amazing job of capturing both that beauty and jeopardy in his lyrics.

How long did it take?

It was almost a year in the making. We had the idea, but we didn’t initially know whether it was possible, plus it naturally took some time for Nick to come up with the music and the song. That said, Nick knows Cornwall well, he’s very familiar with it. So the song, in the end, came very naturally to him.

What’s next for the project? Where do you go from here?

We’re going to have to take it up another notch and go even bigger. We’re incredibly proud to be building momentum and fame for this tiny brewery, on a topic they’re incredibly passionate about. They live and breathe this every day. The marketing team goes surfing every day. They actually have a camera in their boardroom so they can watch the surf.

Where can people get a copy of the record?

The record sold out in minutes. We’ve seen a few pop up for extortionate amounts on eBay, but rather than do that, please go to Spotify and Apple Musicwhere revenue from streams will go to charity.

What’s your favorite album? 

Such a tough question! My current favorite is Little Simz’ Stillness in Wonderland but if I had to be pushed, I’d say my favorite album of all time is Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life.

Anything else you’d like to add?

For me, this is a prime example of our Vivendi partnership in action. It was a real and proper collaboration from the start—they help us artistically as well as logistically. It’s a great testament to the power of this group.

"This is a prime example of our Vivendi partnership in action—it was a real and proper collaboration from the start"

Havas London and Universal Music Group joined forces again in a new campaign intent on demonstrating just how much damage has been caused to British coastlines by pollution. The collaborative effort produced “Ocean Vinyl,” a purpose-driven campaign that highlights Sharp’s Brewery and musician Nick Mulvey, who are both making noise about unsustainable production practices within the music industry.

On October 2, the Cornish brewery and the Mercury Prize nominee celebrated the launch of “In the Anthropocene, a track pressed onto 105 beautiful records made of recycled plastic plucked from the ocean. This campaign comes one year after Havas London and Sharp’s Brewery partnered with Berlin-based composer Sebastian Plano, as part of the impactfulKeynvor” campaign. “In the Anthropocene”, crafted with the sounds of the ocean, aims to empower change by reinvesting its proceeds to rectify the damage that’s been done and advocating for sustainability through a partnership with Surfers Against Sewage.

To promote the launch of the track, the agency created a film exploring the making of the record, while fellow Havas agency One Green Bean handled a consumer PR campaign.

UK and Group Chief Creative Officer Mark Whelan talks about how “Ocean Vinyl” came to fruition and the array of opportunities Vivendi has opened for the Havas network.

 

This project comes a year after the signing of “Keynvor” and the collaboration with Sebastian Plano. How did this new campaign come about?

Last year was a great success but we knew we needed something new to take it up a level. We were talking about the tension around beautiful music for an ugly issue and that led to the idea of creating something beautiful from ugly plastic waste. We had seen sculptures crafted from plastic waste before, but to continue the theme, it made sense for it to be a record. This also gave us a neat bit of language, with the idea that ocean plastic becomes ocean vinyl.

To choose an artist, we thought about what we had already done with Sebastian, and approached our friends at Vivendi with a brief to find something a bit different. We wanted to work with someone who cared about the subject. Universal Music Group (UMG) suggested Nick Mulvey, an incredible artist and activist, who has already been vocal around the issue.

How did Nick Mulvey and UMG get involved? Why was Nick a good choice for this campaign?

When we do a musical collaboration, we always go to UMG first because they help make sure we work with artists who are appropriate to a brand’s message. For Britain’s Beer Alliance’s “Long Live the Local” pro-pub campaign, for example, they found us the incredible British band, Slaves, whose career literally began in pubs.

Authenticity is always the most important thing, so as well as appropriateness, you want an artist who actually cares and identifies with the subject matter. Nick was a natural fit, not just on that front, but musically and lyrically as well. Cornwall is a really mystical place. And his music is the perfect embodiment of Cornwall.

Tell us a little about the process of making the vinyl record.

We collected plastic from beaches in Cornwall and found a Californian guy who uses innovative techniques to make bespoke records. He quite literally turned ocean waste into a playable record. We collected enough plastic to make 105 records, which sold out in minutes.

"Authenticity is always the most important thing—you want an artist who actually cares and identifies with the subject matter"

Is there a particular reason to focus on the music industry when it comes to sustainability issues?

The music industry, like any other, is challenged with sustainability issues—from tackling single-use plastic cups at gigs to unsustainable vinyl production practices. However, the intention was not to call out the music industry—this is about using the power of music to call out ocean pollution and create a thing of beauty from an ugly truth. That’s what makes this so powerful.

It’s using entertainment to carry a serious message. The website got 240% more traffic post-launch and all proceeds went to a local conservation charity called Surfers Against Sewage. As well as raising awareness, it’s doing some tangible good in the world.

The good thing was that it was noticed by the music industry. A story ran in Billboard and there was a feature about the project on BBC.

Was there a specific mood you were hoping to capture? What makes the ocean a good sonic pairing when creating a song?

We were trying to capture the real beauty, mysticism, and romance of Cornwall. If you’re from or are familiar with that area—as our clients at Sharp’s Brewery are—the beaches of Cornwall are magical. 

You have the lapping waters of the Atlantic, a rugged coastline, dramatic cliffs. But its magic is being spoilt by plastic and litter. Nick did an amazing job of capturing both that beauty and jeopardy in his lyrics.

How long did it take?

It was almost a year in the making. We had the idea, but we didn’t initially know whether it was possible, plus it naturally took some time for Nick to come up with the music and the song. That said, Nick knows Cornwall well, he’s very familiar with it. So the song, in the end, came very naturally to him.

What’s next for the project? Where do you go from here?

We’re going to have to take it up another notch and go even bigger. We’re incredibly proud to be building momentum and fame for this tiny brewery, on a topic they’re incredibly passionate about. They live and breathe this every day. The marketing team goes surfing every day. They actually have a camera in their boardroom so they can watch the surf.

Where can people get a copy of the record?

The record sold out in minutes. We’ve seen a few pop up for extortionate amounts on eBay, but rather than do that, please go to Spotify and Apple Musicwhere revenue from streams will go to charity.

What’s your favorite album? 

Such a tough question! My current favorite is Little Simz’ Stillness in Wonderland but if I had to be pushed, I’d say my favorite album of all time is Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life.

Anything else you’d like to add?

For me, this is a prime example of our Vivendi partnership in action. It was a real and proper collaboration from the start—they help us artistically as well as logistically. It’s a great testament to the power of this group.

Sulaiman Beg is Havas' Director of Global Internal Communications. He has never eaten canned tuna fish.

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