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Music & Brands with RA*W talent Willem Goedhart

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.

In this episode: Willem Goedhart, Law student at the University College of Utrecht.

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi there! I’m Willem Goedhart, 22 years old, and currently in my final year of studying law and political science. Even before starting my studies, I knew I wanted to work in the creative world. When I was very young, I aspired to become a comic book artist. Later, I began filming, and now I’m heavily involved in music production. However, I chose to attend university to study something ‘non-creative.’ I don’t regret this decision because my studies have had a significant impact on my worldview, something I’ll definitely carry with me into my future work in the creative sector. The academic world focuses on studying things after they’ve happened. Now, it’s time to work in the sector that makes those things happen.

Throughout my studies, I haven’t been idle creatively. I’ve conceptualized and filmed campaigns for friends running for student boards. I’ve also created commercials for various companies and produced music videos. After completing my studies this year, I’ll be participating in the Switch program for a year to gain experience at different creative agencies.

Which brand do you admire and why?

Oatly is currently the coolest brand around. They have an ethical mission (combating climate change through the sale of oat milk) and dare to be authentic. Far too many brands attempt to fit into existing trends just to avoid controversy. Oatly pays no mind to that and chooses to stand for something. In my opinion, that’s a much more effective strategy. By only trying not to ruffle feathers, you can never come up with a groundbreaking message.

Oatly’s campaign strategy is also highly innovative in the creative realm. Completely covering a subway corridor with posters, billboards that are nearly empty except for an absurd quote; they dare to take risks, and it pays off. I believe more brands should contemplate the role they want to play in society instead of desperately clinging to the existing paths.

When you think of your favorite brand – if it had a theme song, what would it be?

I would opt for a song by an emerging artist who has discovered their unique voice and achieved considerable success. An example of this is Lil Nas X, a young artist with a bold attitude towards the status quo and prevailing norms. Lil Nas X, one of the first artists to gain fame through TikTok and memes, employs a communication style that’s similarly nonchalant and informal to Oatly’s. Additionally, Lil Nas X is queer in a music genre typically associated with hypermasculinity. However, his disregard for this norm is precisely what contributes to his success.

Although the question was initially about a ‘theme song’ and not a specific artist, I find this a challenging question. I believe that brands share many similarities with artists. Artists have their own brand identity reflected in various songs. Similarly, brands have a consistent identity communicated in diverse advertisements.

If I had to choose a song, I would go for ‘A Little Less Conversation’ by Elvis Presley. Similar to Oatly, this song exudes optimism, is energetic, and delivers a message of action with few words (“a little less conversation”) and more determination.

Which brand (national or international) distinguishes itself by embracing the use of music? Do you have an example of a campaign that demonstrates this?

Music is often used in advertisements to support or emphasize the message in a commercial. While this technique is effective, it’s quite commonplace, in my opinion. I find it exciting when music serves as a means to convey a message. Whether the music is highly complex or technically interesting doesn’t matter at all. If it carries a message, it works. A great example, in my view, is Tele2’s first ‘Niet omdat het moet, maar omdat het kan’ advertisement. Essentially, the song (a simple house beat with a monotone voice) is the message, and the video merely serves as a creative illustration. Therefore, music isn’t just a supporting element but rather the core of the message.

Another example is the Koning Toto campaign. This campaign, created by Darre van Dijk, who is not only a creative director but also a musician, started with the idea for a hip-hop song. That’s where the core of the idea lies. The video is essentially just a music video and therefore supportive of the message. In my opinion, allowing music to take a leading role in the story of the advertisement is the most powerful use of music.

What is your favorite artist/band? Can you explain why? 

I receive a lot of criticism for this, but I’m a huge fan of Drake. Although Drake is incredibly mainstream, he’s genuinely talented at what he does. I believe that music (and actually all forms of art) revolves around two essential aspects: vision and craftsmanship. Vision encompasses the ideas presented: creating a new sound, pushing a genre in a refreshing direction, or moving art into uncharted territories. Craftsmanship, on the other hand, involves technically refining a particular style.

Drake may not be a groundbreaking visionary, but he is a highly skilled craftsman. He doesn’t necessarily bring forth new ideas within the R&B or hip-hop genre, but he embodies the mainstream sound in a technically proficient manner. While his beats and songwriting may not be groundbreaking, they are consistent, catchy, and well-executed. Additionally, his vocal performances are often quite minimalist. The essence of Drake’s songs revolves around melodies, and in my opinion, that is the conceptual core of music. Drake manages to convey this ‘idea’ at a technically high level without needing much embellishment. This is where you recognize a craftsman.

When you think of your favorite brand – if it had a theme song, what would it be?

Drake is a partner of Nike, and in many ways, he shares similarities with that brand. Nike isn’t focused on high fashion but has maintained a stable, consistent, and successful position over a long period—similar to Drake. As superficial as it may seem, there’s a lot to be said for brands and artists that sustain long-term commercial success.

To further compare artists with brands, I’d liken The Weeknd to Apple. The Weeknd embodies more of the visionary artistry I mentioned in the previous question. Apart from his excellent technical skills, he has genuinely introduced a new sound in the R&B genre. While R&B typically focuses on heavy drums and intricate vocal harmonies, The Weeknd sings in a high, elegant, and refined manner, taking a more sophisticated route. Similarly, Apple brought innovation with products that were significantly more elegant than their predecessors. Both Apple and The Weeknd have presented a new idea within their respective fields, emphasizing elegance strongly.

Which song takes you back to a certain moment in your life? What moment is that, and why is that song so connected?

I believe that for many people, the music they listened to during their high school years has had a significant impact on their formation. For me, that was the album ‘The Beautiful and Damned’ by G-Eazy. According to friends, I interpret the album much more profoundly than the artist probably intended, but that doesn’t matter much to me. Art is also about what you personally take away from it.

G-Eazy based his album ‘The Beautiful and Damned’ on the book of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which I subsequently read for my list. The book revolves around a couple leading a life filled with luxurious parties but experiencing it as deeply empty. I see this emptiness and loneliness reflected in G-Eazy’s album as well. He portrays the romanticized life of successful rappers in LA (parties, drugs, sex, cars, and fame), yet simultaneously highlights the emptiness, loneliness, and self-destruction of that lifestyle. This duality is also reflected in the music, where orchestral sounds blend with hip-hop drums.

My favorite track from this album is ‘But a Dream’. I only remember fragments of the lyrics, but the atmosphere of the song is amazing. It combines orchestral grandeur with the tightness of hip-hop, the grandeur of a life filled with fame mixed with lonely melancholy. It’s the story of a cowboy in Hollywood.


Maurice Paans

Client Director

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