Case Study: Nike – music conversations in original music production (T&F Insights)

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In 2017 we had the honour of producing a track for esteemed hip hop choreographer and dancer Koharu Sugawara in celebration of Nike’s iconic Air Force 1 collection.

The director of the commercial, Tsuge-san, had a clear vision for the music of his film: he wanted the music to be rhythmic handclaps only and for it to be as minimal as possible. 

As many creatives will know, being minimal is often much more difficult than making something loaded with different elements. We knew it was impossible to make this music work for the film with only handclaps, but we loved the challenge of questioning any additional element and its purpose.

The goal for our work was to find just the right tonality to create an effective score and make sure that we were not only providing good translation from the Japanese director to the English speaking composers Michael and Christian, but also from creative idea to music briefing.


Many people struggle talking about music and we learned that many people tend to have their “go to” music briefing words they use consistently. To make sure we could find the right terms when talking with clients and music composers, we have created an internal tool that our producers like to use which we called the Music Language Map.

music language map

We started with a hand clap beat and then used this map to slowly, over several rounds, add small elements to build the music. 

Below you can see an edit of each of the production steps and the elements we added and some of the keywords used, from handclaps to the final film:


The film won several awards for best original music, including a Bronze at Adfest, and shortlists at Cannes Lions, Spikes, Ciclope Asia and Music & Sound Awards.


They say talking about music is like dancing about architecture. But obviously, we need to talk about it when we brief composers. On the one hand, what proved to be extremely helpful was to force ourselves to make an effort to find the best descriptors for what we were after. On the other, we decided to have very short intervals between rounds of feedback and layer the track together, essentially letting the music do the talking!

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Do you have a music production or any other music need for your commercials you would like to discuss? Our music supervisors are happy to have a chat!