GE ‘Ideas’ Music to My Ears

Hampton's Fest at Max the Trax

GE’s “Ideas Are Scary” just happens to be this writer’s favorite bit of commercial storytelling — packing all the hope and inspiration of a Steven Spielberg film in two minutes or less. The spot, which debuted last year, has been in and out of rotation, and there’s no way I’d launch a website even remotely associated with commercials and not write about this one. Go ahead, try and stop me!

The narrative follows the birth of a scraggly idea. Not much of a looker and clearly adrift, the construct is shunned by “society.” An outsider’s tale. Pass the popcorn.

“Ideas. They come into this world ugly and messy,” a narrator intones rather gravely. But the little guy has potential. (Cue violins, espressivo, and harp). “Ideas are frightening because they threaten what is known. They are the natural born enemy of the way things are.”

And why not? The familiar is reassuring,  offering humans comfort throughout the millennia. Yet where would we as a species be without the ability to plunge into the unknown? Without progress? Judging by Steve Hampton’s score, it sounds like thanks to the folks at GE, we won’t have to find out. By a minute-thirty, this idea has, “under the proper care,” turned into “something beautiful.” The finale seems to be a homage to the NBC peacock (which I absolutely did not see coming). For old time’s sake?

Designed by Bodin Sterba and puppeted by Legacy Effects, the scary-but-sweet idea character has moist eyes that are empathy supercondcutors. (And is that a placenta he’s dragging around?! Very original!) Nuanced direction by Noam Murro — whom Google describes as an “Israeli film director and film producer” — wrings a method performance out of a creature that would look at home on Sesame Street.  Not since Brando’s Streetcar has a stumble evoked such pathos. Murro’s top credits include 2014’s  300: Rise of an Empire and the 2008 film Smart People. All this by way of saying spex are excellent across the board.

And it’s Hampton’s score that ties it all together: sincere, yet wistful, and ultimately aspirational. In May, “Ideas Are Scary” made the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) Awards short list for Hampton’s original music, performed under the auspices of Emoto Music. The recording features an orchestra supplied by Allegro Entertainment. Hampton has used 85-piece orchestras for clients such as Lexus, Adidas, Mountain Dew, T-Mobile and eBay.

Hampton founded Emoto and though he is no longer an owner in the company, he still calls it home for commercial projects. Hampton has used 85-piece orchestras for clients such as Lexus, Adidas, Mountain Dew, T-Mobile and eBay.

Santa Monica-based Emoto worked with BBDO NY to deliver the goods on “Ideas Are Scary,” teaming with Creative Director Greg Hahn, SVP Director of Music & Radio Production Rani Vaz, and Executive Producer Diane Hill. On the agency-side, Hampton is represented by Soundtrack Music Associates. Supervising on behalf of GE was Kara Council. (And we’d be remiss for overlooking the opportunity to draw attention to the corp’s “Drop Science,” in May winner of the AMP Award for Outstanding Mix. (Themed “the sounds of GE,” it’s about music.)

Ideas. Scary, sure, but bring ’em on!

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