Ho! Ho! Yo!

Ahh it’s that favourite time of year once again. A time for giving, a time for sharing and a time for Christmas goodies in all the malls and all the stores! It’s a family time and a time when if we aren’t like Scrooge we endeavor to make someone less fortunate a little happier by assisting with a donation in kind or with money.

We worked hard at creating a Christmas playlist in store that included some perennial favourites as well as some new seasonal hits and let me tell that’s not as easy as it may sound. Gone are the days when virtually every artist recorded their Christmas collection. New releases this year came from golden oldies like Carole King and Paul Anka and super stylists like Annie Lennox, Lee Ann Rimes and Katherine Jenkins but none of the new kids on the block seem to have recorded their Christmas selection. South African fans will be pleased to know that local Athlone boitjie made good Johanthan Butler has released his Christmas album and very pleasant it is too. Good to see South African talent doing well on the international music scene. But I can’t help but wonder why so few of the new stars seem reluctant to record their version of some of the time honoured Christmas classics and perhaps pen a few new takes on this wonderful time of year. Could it be that in this increasingly secular world it’s considered by the Facebook generation to be not cool? It seems strange if that is the case because from a purely music business point of view having a Christmas album or two in your repertoire makes excellent sense – Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is still the biggest selling song of all time and sells a few thousand CD’s and downloads each year. It currently exceeds 100 million copies.

Sir Bob Geldof knows the value of festive tunes. He and Midge Ure have collaborated once again to produce “Don’t They Know It’s Christmas 2014” with a whole bunch of Brit superstars like One Direction, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Bastille, Foals, Elbow, Ellie Goulding, Emeli Sandé, Sam Smith, Olly Murs (who also won 2014’s Rear of the Year Award), Coldplay, Underworld, Sinead O’Connor, Paloma Faith and Bono. It shot straight to number 1 despite the critics panning it, but the cause is superb as it aims to assist in the fight against Ebola.

Thanks to all who assisted in getting the technology in line for the special tribute to Madiba on 05 December. Although the sync on the music video was a bit off the fact that it all came together so quickly was a small miracle. Johnny Clegg’s re-recording of the song “Asimbonanga” with the ladies from Riebeck High of Uitenhage was moving and uplifting.

It just remains for us to wish you and yours a blessed, caring and giving Yuletide. We will return in 2015!!

The Concept of Directional Sound

One of the most recent trends in the use of audio in the retail space is directional sound. This gives a retailer the opportunity to focus sound into very specific areas. In other words you can distribute the sound into very restricted situations. Let’s say that you have a particular promotion on a clothing item such as Jeans. The display area can be small and very targeted. With lighting and a system like Panphonics Sound Shower you can create an atmosphere for the customer within that small space. With clever use of technology such as micro switching you can bring the display to life by the use of sensors. As a customer approaches the display the sensor triggers the micro switch and the whole show piece comes to life with music, lighting and possibly even a spoken message. This technology has been successfully used in cue management where the “captive” audience can be provided with information using the same directional sound technology. It would also be possible to use such an approach in the Foods retail space to promote new products or guide customers to Social Media or Web pages that might provide them with useful information about nutrition or give some quick and easy recipes. Here’s a case study in the use of directional sound from one of the leaders in the field, Panphonics. The Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) is a national initiative designed to address the food security challenges in Qatar. In November, 2012 the UN Climate conference was held in Doha, where directional speakers were installed to provide clear message to the visitors. A series of screens or digital displays contained specific messages regarding the future of food security in the region these were set up a mere 10 metres apart and the Sound Shower unit mounted above each delivered the correct voice over for each screen without interfering with any of the other displays in any way. Another design feature is that the front fascia of each Sound Shower unit can display a graphic of your choice so you might brand it with a logo or any other design feature that relates to whatever is being shown and because the sound is delivered through an array of speakers within the unit the fidelity is excellent delivering a clear, audible message all the time. This directional technology is proving very popular not only in the retail industry but also at at airports, train stations, hotels and hospitals.
It’s another way that the sound industry is innovating for success.

Causing Fatigue Through Noise

I was recently in a store environment where the background noise levels were so loud and intense that after 15 minutes I felt drained of all energy and had to leave. This is because the noise generated by the cooling devices and air-conditioning units were far too high. These devices generate what we in the audio industry call white noise. In a nut-shell that is noise that covers virtually the whole spectrum of the sound frequencies that the human ear can hear. If it is intense, as was the case in the store I visited, the assault on the brain is such that pain and fatigue result. It’s just a very uncomfortable and unpleasant environment. Music on the other hand generates pink or coloured noise, which is a much more pleasing experience; one that stimulates the production of endorphins to the brain. These are the “feel- good” chemical. They are neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. At least 20 types of endorphins have been demonstrated in humans. Endorphins can be found in the pituitary gland, in other parts of the brain, or distributed throughout the nervous system. So the point is that controlling the generation of fatigue creating white noise in any store environment is vital to such issues as customer dwell-time, concentration and enjoyment of the shopping experience. This is greatly assisted by allowing music to be loud enough to over-power the white noise generated by the air-conditioning and cooling device fans but also by insisting on machines that create much lower and more acceptable noise levels. And in case you need more persuading as people age this problem can be enhanced by the on- set of fibromyalgia and other ageing conditions that compound the situation. The store in question was teeming with over 50’s! Perhaps it’s time to give this some serious consideration and once again create the “Difference” in the Woolworths shopping experience.

Mike Westcott CEO Future Dimensions Media
Link:- https://archive.org/details/TenMinutesOfWhiteNoisePinkNoiseAndBrownianNoise

Flash Mob by Gospel Choir dedicated to the passing of our Madiba

Music is a wonderfully emotive tool. If it’s performed in the right place at the right time then it can create exceptional positive reaction amongst any given audience.

This was no better shown than at the Woolworths Parkview flagship store in early December 2013 when the wonderful Soweto Gospel Choir performed a Flash Mob promotion in the store. The song was the very moving “Asimbonanga” dedicated to the passing of our Madiba and it certainly struck a chord with the customers on that busy Saturday. Congrats to all concerned for a wonderfully uplifting moment in our day…….one that doesn’t usually come about in a retail environment!

Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHHjP7XrBq0 to check this out if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s another example of why music can do wonders for a brand. Nearly 4,5 million hits on You Tube. You can’t buy advertising like that. Watch this space!

Sonic Branding – The next big thing in successful marketing.

Sonic Branding is about the sound of a brand. It is responsible for increasing brand awareness, differentiating a brand from its competitors, connecting with customers on a deeper, emotional level and consequently Sonic Branding is about generating more sales and better profits. Sonic Branding is thinking about music in a strategic way. It’s designed to extend your brand’s visual identity by giving it an audible personality. According to Wikipedia “sound branding (also known as audio branding, music branding, sonic branding, acoustic branding or sonic mnemonics) is the use of sound to reinforce brand identity. Sound branding is increasingly becoming a vehicle for conveying a memorable message to targeted consumers, taking advantage of the powerful memory sense of sound“. Sonic Branding is managing how you sound, making sure the effect is positive. Sound, and in particular music, is very good at triggering memories. Therefore music and audio logos are a very strong tool in branding. Branding with both visual and audio elements is much stronger than branding with visuals only.

Sound and music influence our emotions on a subconscious level. Visual information alone needs to be processed and interpreted by our brain before it gets meaning. It’s easy to shut your eyes but more difficultto shut your ears. In our personal lives, we are very good at using the power of music. We listen to music:

  • to match our mood (sad when our heart is broken, happy when the sun is shining),
  • when we feel like dancing,
  • when we do sports,
  • to motivate ourselves,
  • to be part of a community.


Although musical taste is personal, music also has a community aspect. We like to be part of a community. And communities have their own music. With branding, you also want to create communities. You want to give your customers an experience. You want them to feel to be part of a community. The way Apple customers feel part of a community.

This is where sonic brandingcomes in and can help. So Sound Branding is more than an afterthought. And it is much more than selecting music for your next TV commercial! Whereas music for commercials normally comes at the end of the process (and budget!), sonic branding is something to think about at the beginning. That means you have to:

  • invest time and money to translate your core values into sound and music,
  • use the knowledge and experience of a sonic branding consultant to do it right.

Retail and Technology – Where is it all going?

When done right, sonic branding will help your brand. When done wrong, or when selecting music based on mood and personal preferences, you probably won’t get the result you want.

Technology is as exciting as it can be baffling. If you remember, the Internet or to be precise the World Wide Web, has been with us for 8273 days or so. That’s only 22 years! Using this technology what is just about upon us, is the ability not only to recognize individuals in various environments but also an option to communicate with them on a one to one basis about any topic. This has the potential to impact massively on us all but particularly if we are in the customer relations business.

Here’s a not too distant scenario. The customer, let’s call him Levo, arrives at one of our stores. Immediately he walks into the vicinity our beacons and Wi-Fi activator recognize him via his Smart Phone. It beeps and receives the following message: “Good day Levo. Welcome to Woolworths! We know you’ll enjoy your shopping experience with us today.” The Apps loaded onto Levo’s phone then kick in and depending on what level of access he has allowed, we can offer him instant discounts on lines that you know will interest him because of the information you already have about him, especially if he is a store card holder.

If he lingers in the fragrance department you can send him a coupon to help him make up his mind, if he’s shopping in the Food Market an App reminds him of each item on his shopping list he requires when he’s in the appropriate isle and if he is enjoying the music he’s hearing whilst sipping a latte in the café another App takes him to our web page where he can hear music of the same or a similar genre which he can play in his car, on his IPod or on his home Hi-Fi device. As he browses around the men’s fashion area the App guides him to his favourite items of apparel and when it’s his birthday our App offers him a Birthday Bonus to celebrate his special day!

The opportunities are endless and the ability to hone in on a customer’s individual needs and likes and dislikes are extremely appealing. At Future Dimensions Media this is all part of the bundle of services we are developing for our clients. Please feel free to call us for a chat.