Kia is hoping to stimulate people’s creative juices with a new branded musical instrument leveraging pink noise and natural recordings.
To promote the Kia Instrument—a plug-in available to download on Windows or macOSX—the automaker launched a creator contest with SoundCloud inviting artists to write and record a song for a chance to soundtrack the brand’s next global ad campaign.
Kia captured natural sounds of movement including those from the Cheonggyecheon river in Korea, winds in the Sahara desert, beach waves in Scotland, and birds and rain falling in the Amazon rainforest. In collaboration with DaHouse Audio and synth builder Arthur Joly, Kia turned the sounds into an instrument that it also used to develop a new sound logo, “Kia: Movement That Inspires,” as well as welcome and goodbye sounds for its all-electric Kia EV6 vehicle.
The automaker also recruited up-and-coming artists to create a four-track album using the tool. All the tracks created followed neuroscientific parameters covering beats per minute, harmonic progressions, melodic intervals and texture, Kia said. The compositions were then lab-tested on people’s brains using EEG equipment.
In a two-minute spot detailing the behind-the-scenes of the musical instrument, Kathrine Templar Lewis, creative scientist and futurist, said:
“We found that people were more creative when they had listened to the songs… you could see increased alpha and theta power, a coherence of brainwaves seen and increased connectivity, particularly connecting the occipital and frontal parts of the brain, where our emotional control center is situated, and the areas connected to increased creativity and flow states.”
The Kia instrument features a touchpad keyboard that lets you play as you go. You can create endless patterns, save your loops, play them back in real-time and modulate the sounds with the dials. In addition, the key buttons light up when played, which offers a quick visual orientation.
Kia teamed with SoundCloud to run a creator contest promoting its new tool. To enter, fans must create an all-original song using sounds from the Kia instrument. The winning entry will take home $5,000 in cash, may have their music featured in a global Kia ad campaign and be part of SoundCloud’s marketing and video content. Kia is accepting entries now through May 10.
The activation comes as Kia and the live music and entertainment venue the Forum announced that the latter will be known as the Kia Forum, marking the first US naming rights deal for the automaker. The Kia Forum will include new outdoor and indoor signage, the installation of EV charging stations and Kia vehicle displays starting with the EV6. Also in the works is the establishment of the “Kia Club,” an exclusive hospitality lounge to delight car and music buffs.
More recently, Kia’s marketing efforts were recognized with two awards. Its “Movement That Inspires” broadcast campaign, a key component of the automaker’s new brand identity in the US, was named the 2021 Best Non-Luxury Auto Campaign by EDO and its “Times Square Takeover” for the Kia EV6 was awarded “Best Interactive Execution or Campaign” by MediaPost.