Case Study: OTTO – Music Ideation & Strategy (T&F Insights)

Otto Christmas 2016



Logo ADC GermanyLogo ClioLogo Golden Award of MontreuxLogo EurobestLogo D & ADLogo New York FestivalsLogo CiclopeLogo EpicaLogo LIA AwardsLogo One ShowLogo Music + Sound AwardsLogo Deutscher WerbefilmpreisLogo PIAFLogo Die KlappeLogo Cresta Awards


In Germany, OTTO is a famous online retailer. In 2016 they were planning to launch a Christmas campaign that addressed a typical phenomenon during these times: we are busy running around, finishing things up at work for the end of the year, shopping for the holiday season and generally going about our busy lives. The message of the animated film is about “The Most Precious Gift” that you can give to your loved ones, your time.

Music wise, the agency Heimat Berlin had tried various things already and when they brought us on board they told us they didn’t want to brief us too much. Instead, they wanted to see our interpretation of the previous film they had made, along with loose guidelines such as, preferring something instrumental, cinematic, nothing famous and most likely no vocals.


We knew from the start that this was a very unique and creative project and we wanted to make sure we looked at it from every angle so as not to miss out on creative opportunities.

We found a lot of inspiration in movie scores ranging from traditional to very modern and experimental. We also used a model we developed for internal use where we match music genres and target audiences. One preference we found particularly interesting was the strong love for 80s and 90s pop among the OTTO customers, which doesn’t initially make sense for the film and briefing, but we decided to play around with it.

Here is the first round of music research we sent to the client. For this case study, we edited a snippet of each proposal we made under the final film, separated by a beep. In the actual presentation, each of the snippets was a full length proposal for the film:

We mostly presented tracks that followed the agency’s guidelines, but also introduced several wildcards that were famous and/or had vocals. While a modern classical score was agreed on as the right way to move forward, the creative got particularly excited about trying out famous tracks and recording them as a choir version.

We then presented a second round of research. To help the imagination of what we can do with a track, we tried to avoid presenting the original version but rather spend some extra time to find a version closer to the tonality we were after.

Here is our second round of research: 

At the same time we produced a piece of original music as a second direction:

The agency picked several favourites and we negotiated the usage rights for the copyrights and recorded choir demos to make sure it works 100% the way we expect it to before recording with a big choir. 

And this is the final film:


The film won many awards for best use of music, including Gold at Ciclope and Golden Award of Montreaux, Silver at ADC, Bronze at Clios and shortlists at One Show, New York Festivals, Cresta Awards, Eurobest, Music & Sound Awards and German Advertising Film Award.

It was the most talked about Christmas campaign in Germany that year and the full length version of the song was downloaded 70.000 times.


Our takeaway is that often the best results come from an open minded approach, a desire to explore many creative directions and offering wildcards. We also learned that while many claim market research dilutes great ideas, it can also be a great source of inspiration and creativity.

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