How did music help transform Italy's biggest kids network?
"Boldest brand transformation to date"
"Super!" is CBS Viacom International's flagship Italian kids' network and needed a music to help drive the boldest brand transformation to date. This was part of a national campaign generating brand imagery across buildings, monuments, transportation, and installations across Italy – as well being heard across tv screens, social channels and radio waves.
Using music and sound to drive the transition
In 2019, CBS Viacom Int'l acquired Italian kids' network "Super!" as part of their strategy to strengthen their presence in Italy and firm up their relevance in the kids' segment. The network had just gained a leading position in the Italian kids' sector just 7 years after launching, but the look and feel had quickly become dated – especially the sound of the network considering the increasingly culture and music savvy nature of their core demo (age 4-14) given the rise and access of social media to younger children. In response, CBS Viacom greenlit an explosive brand refresh with a goal of generating visceral excitement and real-world relevance within its demo.
While there existed some visual elements that had equity worth building upon, this was not true for music and sound. Super! had no identifiable sonic style other than generic kids' music that alienated either tweens or toddlers (ignoring the modern-day overlap) and a forgettable mnemonic that felt childish and did not help define who they were as a brand.
Super! needed culturally relevant theme music, a mnemonic that could flex across idents, and toolkits of SFX – all designed to bring their new branding to life across all iterations. Although this is a kid's channel, we wanted something edgier than expected kids’ channel branding, especially knowing the average age of young social media users had significantly decreased and our demo was plugged into charting music rather than traditional kids' music.
The Creative Recipe
To build a holistic sonic identity that mashes cliché superhero musical idioms into a TikTok generation's sensibilities in a way that could functionally breathe life into aspects of the new design such as sharp contrasts, imperfect scrappy executions, surprise and randomness of elements, quick zippy animated movement, bold color splashes, and an overall sense of fun!
The Creative Brief
Our analytical process enabled us to develop a clear and concise sonic brief filled sonic examples that clearly define all aspects of music creation and production. This enabled all parties to align with confidence before production began, reducing creative risk and increasing accuracy.
The Sonic Identity System
For flexibility we created a suite of audio assets and toolkits. The brand anthem was designed to be the source and inspiration for all sonic brand assets. The SFX are all customized from 8-bit retro keyboards and other unique synths and electronic toys.
While we avoided straight hip hop with its slow swagger or hard attitude, Super!'s new hero music does borrow from the most viral hip hop tracks in circulation through use of space, creatively hard-to-identify sound elements, minimal use of tracks, hard beats and pumping bass, and playing high and low frequencies off each other. We then made the track purely "Super!" by incorporating superhero music idioms like major 5th and 3rd melodic jumps while still allowing the beat and groove to both drive and define the track.
The mnemonic melody captures the superhero sensibility, but it also follows a chord progression that allows the main melody to drop out so new instruments can help customize the flavor of any ident to match the subject matter.
Our strategy was to create a suite of assets derived from a beat-dominated hero track that could be used across all branded content - a channel theme, promos, bumpers, social media, titles, etc. Through a careful study and moodboard workshopping of elements of contemporary TikTok hits within the 4-14y demo, we defined a nice balance of playful and 'legit' contemporary groove energy to age the brand up and make it aspirational for the younger crowd.
Turning Design into Music
Sonic Lens then translated the unique visual flavors of the rebrand into sound through sonic workshops around early design moodboards with Blacklist Creative. We wanted to bring sonic analogs to their visual sharp contrasts, imperfect scrappy executions, surprise and randomness of elements, quick zippy animated movement, bold color splashes, silly fonts, etc. All of this helped us develop specific sonic ingredients that became the DNA of the sound of Super! and helped create an overall sense of fun!
Early Design Moodboards
Final Design Executions
With the Super! Rebrand, Sonic Lens got the brief straight away and delivered an outstanding soundscape that sat perfectly with our vibrant visuals and resonated with our target audience.
The audience loved it, the client loved it and it even helped us win Promax Global Excellence Gold for Best Channel Rebrand - so we couldn't be happier!"
Co-founder and Commercial Director @Blacklist Creative
CBS Viacom Int'l / Super!
Mathias Upton-Hansen / Blackrock Creative
German Groba / Viacom Int'l
Entertainment / TV
Marco Vitali / Sonic Lens
Executive Music Producer
Marco Vitali / Sonic Lens