Musical Solutions for a Movie Festival: Creating the Sidewalk Jingle
Content by Jeremy Burgess
We provide many services for our clients here at Big. Creative, video, media, PR, social media, branding, you name it.
It’s not often that we do jingles.
Yeah, jingles. Those advertising linchpins of yesteryear that have become all but extinct in modern times. Those lovable earworms that can still trigger Pavlovian responses when summoned.
So when Birmingham’s beloved Sidewalk Film Fest came to us to help spread the word about this year’s event—which happens this weekend, August 25-27, in case you’ve been hibernating—a jingle felt like good fit for a brand that likes to have fun.
“The concern was that Sidewalk felt inaccessible to the general public,” said Hawley Martin, our copywriter who led the lyrical charge. “We needed to break down these barriers and make Sidewalk feel approachable. A song gave us space to clear up some of that confusion. The tone and style allowed us to present Sidewalk as inviting.”
The process, Martin said, was very organic. The lyrics came first, then they set a melody to them.
That’s easier said than done, of course, and it took the team—which also included art director Caroline Collins, senior art director Ryan Brown, and IT manager Greg Slamen—a bit of trial and error to find the right sound.
They tried an electronic version, then a rock ‘n roll version, then several more iterations. Finally, it came back to the original problem they were trying to solve: approachability.
“We knew from the beginning that the jingle needed to ride a fine line between downright bad and charmingly amateur and underproduced,” said Collins, who sang the tune along with designing the video. “Something like the Juno soundtrack.”
Once the final mix was in the can, Collins and Brown (who played guitar and ukulele for the jingle, including that sweet guitar solo) set to work on the visual assets. The video needed to be fun, informative, catchy, and—you guessed it—approachable.
As for the Sidewalk team, well, they weren’t expecting a jingle. But once they heard the tune and saw the storyboards, they were on the same page.
“They saw it in the morning and signed off on it that afternoon,” said Martin.
Sure, it was a gamble. After all, how often do you hear jingles these days, especially brand new ones? But in the end, it paid off.
“We thought the jingle might be a risk from the beginning because it wasn’t what they asked for,” said Collins. “But it turned out to be a really good example of what can happen when both the client side and agency side are flexible and listen to each other. Everyone’s visions and intentions are fulfilled in the best way possible.”
Fulfilling work is fun. And it’s even more fun we get to flex our creative muscles—like when copywriters become lyricists, IT managers become music producers, and art directors become singers and songwriters.
“A place like Big attracts creative people whose talents extend beyond their job titles,” said Martin. “They’re eager to flex those skills to solve clients’ problems. And that’s empowering.”
The results are still rolling in, but with all the buzz in the air leading up to the event, we hope this fun little ditty has built up a bit of excitement for the city—and perhaps helped sell a few tickets.
Check out the jingle for yourself, then hum that tune all the way to the box office and join us this weekend for the 19th annual Sidewalk Film Festival!