The human jukebox

A couple of years ago I had an operation on my ear, prior to which I would watch with horror and a slightly morbid fascination as a tiny camera was carefully rammed down my ear canal. There is something repellent but also strangely compelling about getting an ‘inside view’ of the human body, and it is that interest that this PR award-winning stunt by Stockholm agency Akestam Holst latch onto by dwelving much deeper (literally) into the human experience of sound. Human + music = human jukebox.

In early 2011, Akestam Holst were faced with the task of building sales and awareness of a specialist audio entertainment/custom installation company called Pause, who as the “mouse squeak” amongst a noisy crowd of larger retailers, struggled to gain a market share of the electrical good market. In other words, the store needed roar, it needed to generate publicity – it needed to become the little store with a big noise and the bravado to demonstrate its niche expertise. Akestam Holst’s strategy was to make Pause capture the attention of influential people like journalists, in the hope that the whispers and rants would soon spread. The topic of this tactical Chinese Whispers-like game being noise from the body, but not your typical stomach rumble or teeth chattering, but music… resonating from a torso. In a stunt worthy of a Doctor Who episode, the CEO of Pause swallowed a “gutpod”, part of a customised wireless sound system where your stomach functions as the stereo. A very large pill to swallow.

Besides showcasing an admirable confidence in the Pause product (resistance to stomach acid and avoiding choking presumably being just a few things that the team had to consider), the campaign invited public participation. The Pause audience chose songs remotely for their unique “man-player”, with an unsurprising focus on lyrics with a abdominal theme – “Hips don’t lie” being my preferred suggestion. The campaign was highly successful – breaking even in a record time of six days, increasing sales by 112% during the campaign period and the extending the number of store visits by +400%; in addition to generating worldwide publicity. To compare this to my dog Frankhe may look small and sweet, but boy can he bark…

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