Harman, kbs+ Tackle Sound Degradation In The Digital Age

Harman Audio is serious about music. The parent company of audio brands Harman/Kardon and JBL is unhappy with how technology has led to the decline of sound quality within the music industry. And the company wants to do something about it. 

Now, the audio brand and its agency kbs+ are launching a campaign centered around "The Distortion of Sound" documentary to examine what people are missing in the audio experience and how technology, for better or for worse, has changed the music experience.

This 22-minute film — developed and conceived by kbs+ — features many well-known producers and musicians, such as Quincy Jones, Snoop Dogg, Steve Aoki and Slash, who share their frustrations about how their music is being heard by fans. Ultimately, it’s a celebration of the artistry and passion that is poured into music, and the profound connection between artist and audience.

"At the end of the day, this was not about making a commercial for Harman, but about raising awareness around a key audio issue we are experiencing with the evolution of technology: sound distortion," Katie Klumper, group account director at kbs+. "This is a topic that the average consumer is not aware of and therefore doesn't care about.

“When we set out to create this piece, our real goal was to educate the consumer on the audio landscape today and spark a conversation,” Klumper said. “We had to do that in a way that told the full story in an emotional way that could play to audiophiles and pure music lovers alike. This mix of education and emotion around such a complex issue just isn't something that a :30 spot could accomplish in the same way."

The branded content documentary launched on YouTube, where it posted nearly 500,000 views in its first week, and debuted nationally on the Sundance Channel and IFC July 23rd at 6 p.m. Now, kbs+ and Harman are looking to capitalize on this debate, largely through social media, to further the discussion and awareness and plan to support this video throughout the next few months.

Star power is helping to spark the conversation, and it wasn't nearly as hard as initially expected to attract big-name performers. "What was most surprising to us was actually how many artists had something to say about the issue — from composers to DJs, from mixing engineers to rappers, and from singers and songwriters to producers — it was surprising just how passionate each and every individual was about the topic — on all sides of the issue," says Klumper.

"Getting people was not an issue and in fact, at one point, the schedule dictated that we had to turn some really great folks down. The biggest challenge was really one of schedules, with people on tour and making albums, but we found a way to be quick an nimble with the shoots, stealing 1-2 hours of time wherever we could get it," she adds.

kbs+ has worked with Harman since January 2013. The agency is the social and automotive agency for all of its consumer audio brands, including JBL and Harman/Kardon. The shop is also the agency of record for the re-launches of the client’s Infinity, Revel and Mark Levinson brands.

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