Sony Taps YouTube Phenom to Remix TV Ads

Jay-Z may have declared “Auto-tune is dead” months ago, but don’t tell that to The Gregory Brothers. The group, which has parlayed the audio processing technique into Internet phenomenon “Auto-Tune the News,” has crossed over to the marketing realm to help amplify 180 LA’s ongoing campaign for Sony Electronics.

“We had to find a way to take the existing campaign and generate some additional PR or social currency around it,” said Amir Farhang, 180’s creative director of digital and innovation. “We’d all seen ‘Auto-Tune the News’ and how huge of a following they’d garnered in the last year, and we’re huge fans ourselves. We knew we could work with their current momentum in pop culture to make something memorable.”

The Gregory Bros tweaked existing assets from Sony’s now-ubiquitous “Panel of Experts” spots starring Peyton Manning and Justin Timberlake. Having sliced, spliced, added effects and inserted themselves into the mix, the group produced a dizzying two-minute music video (embedded below) complete with an original Auto-Tune-aided audio track.

Auto-Tune the Ads” video has racked up more than 500,000 views since it was posted two weeks ago. According to Farhang, it was best for 180 LA to let the Gregory Bros just do their thing.

“We gave them the material and told them to run with it. We had a few check-ins along the way and it all went smoothly,” Farhang said. “When working with such exceptional talents, its best to let them explore and take risks rather than throwing the handcuffs on early. The result is pretty much dead on with what we saw initially.”

But he said an early version did have some content that was deemed unsuitable for Sony. “At one point there was a pistol being brandished in the video, [which was] funny, but maybe a little off brand.”

While the agency hasn’t created banners or a microsite for the “Auto-Tune the Panel” effort, it did develop a Facebook app extension with the help of Oddcast, Antares Audio Technologies and Citrusbyte. Once you install the Sony “Auto-Tune My Status” app, you can — as the name suggests — create a status update and have it played back as an Auto-Tuned song. While results may vary, all that’s required to make it work (besides enabling pop-ups) is to create your status update as usual, then pick a voice and a beat via a virtual keyboard. Once done, your type in auto-tuned status update is posted on your wall and to news feeds for your friends to enjoy and/or make fun of.

Despite Jay-Z’s sentiments, Farhang believes Auto-Tune is still worth leveraging. “As long as you make something people enjoy, it’s not dead. But it might be close. I think we were lucky to get it in at the right time.”

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