Music & Brands with RA*W talent Tobias Vermeiren
In each episode, we feature a different talent (from the RA*W community), focusing on their musical influences and connection to brands. How do young talents in the creative industry perceive music and sound in advertising and branding? Which brands do they admire? And, of course, we want to know who their favorite artist is.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Tobias Vermeiren, a strategist at the advertising agency Dentsu Creative Amsterdam. I’m lucky to work on some awesome Dutch accounts here, like Randstad and KPN. Besides that, I’m a strategic advisor for the Amsterdam brand KRNWTR+ and a board member at We Are RA*W.
My interest in the advertising field sparked early on. I used to play the “guess the ad” game with friends and family since I was a kid. To learn more about advertising and why some ads stuck in people’s minds, I gave a presentation about advertising in 7th grade. That’s when I fell in love with the industry.
Music has always been a constant in my life. My dad is a director for ballet and opera productions, among other things, so I was exposed to classical music at a young age. I’ve been playing the piano since I was a kid. I even took a music exam in high school, studied jazz piano, and sang in my college fraternity’s band during my student days.
Which brand do you admire and why?
Perhaps a bit cliché, but for me, that’s Nike. From day one, they’ve built their company on strong principles. Nike shows that they understand society and people. They don’t borrow culture; they create it. Think about the Spike Lee commercials. They take leadership and push both the category and society forward. Nike takes a stand on issues like ‘motherhood,’ ‘mental health,’ and ‘racism’ and takes responsibility.
And it doesn’t stop at just advertising. On Nike’s campus, people work on products and services so that anyone can feel like a top athlete, like the Nike Run Club App, for example. Nike is consistent in its brand but always manages to innovate. Admirable.
When you think of your favorite brand – if it had a theme song, what would it be?
“Little Less Conversation” by Junkie XL. Firstly, because this song was featured in one of my favorite Nike commercials, starring Edgar Davids. And secondly, because, in my opinion, it perfectly aligns with Nike’s philosophy. “Little less conversation, a little more action please.” Nike lives up to this with a rock-solid brand promise to propel athletes (read: everyone with a body) forward. It’s right at the top of the Nike Principles: ‘Our business is change.’ And with impactful campaigns like ‘Dream Crazy,’ they demonstrate that actions speak louder than words.
Which brand (national or international) distinguishes itself by embracing the use of music? Do you have an example of a campaign that demonstrates this?
In my view, music adds an extra dimension to a commercial. It can turn good work into something fantastic. It communicates on a deeper level. It adds emotion and immerses you in a story. One brand that truly understands this is HEINEKEN. There are quite a few songs from HEINEKEN commercials in my Spotify playlist. My favorite has to be their commercial ‘The Odyssey,’ where they use the song ’16 Toneladas’ by the Brazilian cult samba singer Noriel Vilela. But also, think about songs like ‘Ca Plane Pour Moi’ by Plastic Bertrand and ‘The Golden Age’ by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour.
I’m not shy to give ourselves a compliment either. Music indeed plays a significant role in KPN’s campaigns. For instance, the song ‘Dolce Vita’ by Ryan Paris became a massive hit in 2021 after our first ‘cat commercial.’ The campaign also brought the song back into the TOP 2000.
What is your favorite artist/band? Can you explain why?
Oh, that’s a tough question. A dull answer, but I don’t have one. I listen to too many different genres to pick just one artist. My most streamed song of 2022 was ‘Dang!’ by Mac Miller – sadly, he passed away too soon – and Anderson .Paak.
If you compared that artist or band to a brand, what brand would that be?
Given that Mac Miller is no longer with us, I’ll focus only on Anderson .Paak for this question. I find him to be a musical chameleon. His music refuses to fit neatly into one genre, spanning from hard-hitting hip-hop beats to guitar riffs that evoke the disco vibes of the ’70s. Somehow, when I think of him, I associate him with the Levi’s brand. Timeless, authentic, narrative, and a touch of stubbornness.
Which song takes you back to a certain moment in your life? What moment is that, and why is that song so connected?
Another tough question! There are so many songs that bring back beautiful memories. But if I have to pick one, it would be ‘Photograph’ by Jamie Cullum. This song holds a lot of cherished memories for me.
As a jazz enthusiast, Jamie Cullum has been my idol since I was young. I played his album ‘Catching Tales’ on repeat at home. I even received the piano sheet music for his album as a birthday gift. After school, the first thing I would do was play the piano.
My favorite piece to play was ‘Photograph.’ It took some time to learn the entire song, including the piano solo. Eventually, I performed the song, singing and playing it, during the practical part of my music exams.
I played it for my fiancée when we had just started dating.
And to this day, I still enjoy playing the song to relax after a day of work.
Client DirectorContact Maurice