The New Sound of Adventure: MullenLowe Create SoundSeeker for Royal Caribbean

We started with the question “What does adventure sound like?” and the idea developed from there.


Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

MullenLowe concepted and created SoundSeeker for Royal Caribbean in partnership with Unit9, Berklee College of Music, and Plan8. My partner Rob Kottkamp was the CDs on the project. 

Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

People take A LOT of travel photos. But they just sort of sit there in your social feed. We wanted to give people a way to share more interesting photos. SoundSeeker is an artificial intelligence technology that takes your photos, analyzes them for mood, tone and subject matter, then builds a custom music track and kaleidoscopic video for you to share. Each one is totally personal.

Tell us about the creative brief, what did it ask?

Leading up to the US arrival of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Symphony of the Seas, MullenLowe was tasked with generating buzz for the brand within an audience that typically isn’t attuned to ship launches – people who have never cruised before.  Building on the creative platform “The New Sound of Adventure” and armed with the goal of creating marketing as innovative as the product, we set out to develop a first of its kind technology that also provided value to the consumer.  We started with the question “What does adventure sound like?” and the idea developed from there.

Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

While the adventures we take have a lasting impact on who we are, our vacation memories often live forgotten in our camera rolls or social profiles.  We saw a need for consumers to bring these memories to life in a new, multi-dimensional way that would allow them to celebrate the power of their experiences beyond the one-note representation of a photo. 


Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen?  

We had other ideas that leaned into music and sound from different angles.  This idea rose to the top because it was something totally new and reinforced Royal Caribbean’s commitment to innovation.

How did the client initially react to this idea?

Royal Caribbean’s challenge to the agency is to make marketing as innovative as their products.  We know we’ve hit on something when we collectively feel nervous but excited about an idea.  That was the feeling in the room when we presented this idea.

What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development?

Our biggest challenge was tackling the question of translating visual inputs into corresponding emotional and ultimately musical outputs.  For example, how do you determine what the color red sounds like?  While we may be able to feel what is right intuitively as humans, we had to map out the logic behind that intuition and then train the AI on it.  Unit9 and Berklee really helped us find the way and were incredible partners.

What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

As a team, we thrive on projects that have no roadmap.  If we are solving big problems together, we know we are doing something that hasn’t been done before. And that’s also the most fun part of the job. 

Personally, I learned a lot about AI and music theory. I’ve been playing music since I was 8, but working with the people at Berklee and Unit 9 and Plan 8, all of whom are professional musicians and technicians of the first caliber, was like attending a masterclass every day.

Where do you see this campaign going in the future?

It will be exciting to see how the frontiers of artificial intelligence are pushed and what impact that will have on future iterations of the project.  In the meantime, we are learning from how our consumers are engaging with the tool and exploring how we can leverage different applications.

If you could go anywhere right now, where would you go? Why and have you been there before?

There are so many places I would love to go. And working on Royal Caribbean takes me to some incredible places. But in April my wife and I took our two boys on an RV trip through Utah. Didn’t think I’d like the RV thing. But I actually loved it. So I’m thinking my next big trip might involve another RV. Maybe to Paris.


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