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ALL EARS ON YOU

How Film Director Amber Grace Johnson Brought the Immersive Spotify Experience to Life in Our New Spotify Advertising Brand Campaign

September 28, 2021

When advertisers create digital audio for Spotify, they have the opportunity to reach passionate music lovers and dedicated podcast listeners who tune in day after day—a truly engaged audience, if not the most engaged audience. And as audio content consumption is on the rise with no signs of slowing down, digital advertising is also becoming more mainstream. Now, Spotify Advertising is taking advantage of this reality to excite advertisers, publishers, and creators about this opportunity with our first global B2B brand campaign, All Ears On You

We’re showing advertisers what it truly means to reach a fully engaged audience by imagining the Spotify experience as a moment where each listener is immersed in Spotify as they go about their day—protected from the noise and distractions of everyday life.

One part of our campaign is a stunning video created in conjunction with film director Amber Grace Johnson. The video, which was shot in Mexico City, shows this true immersion in a beautiful sync of live action and visual effects, all set to the song “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” by Spotify RADAR artist Joy Crookes.

For the Record grabbed time with Amber to speak with her about her love of music, the creative direction that went into the campaign, and her goal in working with Spotify’s advertising team.

Why were you interested in working with Spotify? 

Music is one of the biggest motivators in my life. I’m a person who needs 360-degree stimulation. Music helps me romanticize the mundane by injecting it with pure delicious immersion. It’s pretty wild to think of how terrifyingly vital a role Spotify plays in my every day—feasting my ears with the infinite soundtracks of my life. 

And because I love all genres (and even surprise myself with what I come to love), Spotify gives me the means to discover newness (and oldness). I truly believe the world would be a lost and scary place without this medium. 

I’ve always been a fan of Spotify. Since I started professionally directing three years ago, I had Spotify on my list as a brand I admire and dreamed of working with. And this experience absolutely lived up to that dream of mine.

Tell us a little about the direction in the All Ears On You film. What are the elements you set out to convey?

Powerful women and the art of letting go. This film is a window into the life of someone truly present—a young woman who defies the gravity of today’s experience by way of music. Our main character is able to rise above the ambush of the digital zeitgeist, an at-times suffocating frenzy.

As someone who lives and dies by Spotify, I believe music has healing powers. And whenever I’m in a bad mood, I play James Brown’s “People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul,” and it works like magic. I wanted to share the wonders of music and how it can transport you to another dimension, if you let it. 

In this piece, we revel in a spirit so comfortable in herself that she makes you feel free enough to do the same. If anything, we want people to watch this and feel inspired to romanticize their lives, add a bit of spice—no matter how mundane—to something like a dizzying commute home from work. My goal is to sweep you off your feet with some Spotify. 

The song in the video is “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” by Joy Crookes. How did you choose this song? How did it influence the story within the video, and vice versa?

We were all hell-bent on finding the perfect song that was magnetic and soulful and by an artist on the rise. Spotify’s algorithm is strong and has personally put me on to a number of artists I wasn’t privy to. Finding that balance was essential, especially for a brand with real influence on how the world experiences music. 

When we were auditioning songs (I want to say, we tried hundreds of options!), “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” just hit differently. It had this Amy Winehouse-meets-Bond feeling. There’s something with the instrumentation that made me feel like it’s in the spirit of a James Bond soundtrack. And, of course, the lyrics are very synchronistic with the visuals. Joy Crookes is an artist’s artist, on the cusp of something greater, with real intention behind her craft.

Director Amber Grace Johnson

There’s a part of the video where the music totally cuts out and then little podcast snippets start. Was that something that you envisioned from the beginning? 

The original concept was centered around this one girl inside her bubble living her best life amidst an intense world of distractions. I was inspired to expand beyond her point of view and introduce other characters who also find an almost delirious escapism in music. Whether you’re a couple falling in love while sharing a song, listening to an alien podcast trying to pass time in bumper-to-bumper, or a dreamer who’s healing her anxiety with a meditation podcast—we all can live at ease in our bubbles if we desire to. 

You typically work on consumer campaigns. Did you change your approach when directing this B2B video for Spotify Advertising? 

I think the best advertising is rooted in a simple idea: how to successfully sell a dream and a feeling. In this film, you hardly see the product, but you can feel its impact. 

In order for me to fall in love with anything I do, I have to see the beauty and purpose in it. I try my best to approach advertising as an art form and with some psychology. At a basic level, what do people want? What makes us feel? People are excited about what other people are passionate about. And I personally engage in videos that make me forget where I am and take me on a ride. For this film, music in itself, is a lifeline to so many people. In no way did this concept or process feel like advertising to me. 

What are you hoping people walk away from this thinking and feeling?  

We live in a special time where social media and technology have made us question ourselves and perform in an unrealistic and unnatural way. I believe we’re all dying for some realness—a much-needed pivot to a more stripped back, raw and real, less self-serious existence. I hope this piece reminds viewers of their inner child and that it’s sexy to be yourself!

Learn more at ads.spotify.com/all-ears-on-you.