The High Stakes Beer Ad That Scored at Super Bowl LVII

Lawrence takes us through his comedic sound design approach with kung-fu crashes and a Billy Bass fish power-up to boot!

As published on Little Black Book

Leading London-based sound design and music production studio, String and Tins, scored in the recent Super Bowl with their work for Molson Coors in collaboration with Droga5 New York and director Ian Pons Jewell.

Unveiled at this year’s Super Bowl LVII, String and Tins’ audio producer Laura-Leigh Smith and sound designer and mixer Lawrence Kendrick worked collaboratively to bring comedy, action and dramatic tension to the spot, entitled ‘The High Stakes Beer Ad’. As the title suggests, the ad unleashed a high-stakes competitive bar brawl between representatives of Coors Light and Muller Lite beers, fighting to position their beer as the rightful winner.

The creatives behind the spot were united in the idea that the comedy should come as a result of the ad taking itself seriously, and therefore the music and sound should reflect this. Composed by String and Tins composer, Joseph Alexander, the music in the spot is bold and heroic, tightly linked to the on-screen action and features an epic choral chant that begins as the fighting comes to a head, paying homage to the grandiose choirs of composers like Carl Orff.

String and Tins took inspiration from iconic cinematic moments from films including The Matrix, Captain America and Kung Fu movies of the '70s and '80s to achieve the right tone, to perfect balance of silly and serious. Lawrence's design avoids overfly cartoonish sounds, while still retaining the exaggerated sound effects which audiences love, such as the hilarious Billy Bass’ fish power-up sequence and the over the top crashes and impacts.

The spot is laden with action and detail, so in order to maximise the effect of the soundtrack and expose the heightened tensions, silences were woven in to create a tonal switch to catch the audience’s attention. As the bar fight evolves, with more and more ridiculous kung-fu style moves being pulled, the music cuts as the camera pans to two bored patrons, who are totally unaware of the ongoing battle behind them.

With the global audience of the Super Bowl in mind, String and Tins paid extra attention to carve out sonic space for the dialogue and ensure that the delivery of every line was clear and to the point for the noisy bars the commercial premiered in. The final track for the spot evolved alongside the edit, drawing on sounds used as samples from real kung-fu films, adding elements of realism into the sound design.

Lawrence Kendrick, sound designer and mixer at String and Tins, comments, "Ian Pons Jewell and the team at Droga5 NY were so excited from the job’s inception that it was really contagious. We had a real blast together building something funny and it shows in the result. Everyone was really receptive to trying new things and we weren’t too precious if someone felt a comedy beat wasn’t landing properly, or if we could squeeze an extra comedic beat in the sound. It was a really collaborative and fun project to work on, and something we’re really proud of."