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Gap's Sound of Color

Advertising, Type / Typography

Posted by Eliza Williams, 26 February 2008, 13:12    Permalink    Comments (5)

Ryan Ebner's film for Marié Digby's track Paint Me In Your Sunshine, based on the colour yellow

What is the relationship between sound and colour? It's a question pondered by psychologists and artists over the centuries, and now, finally, Gap clothing has also entered the debate with their latest project, The Sound of Color.

A branded content campaign which aims to launch Gap's brightly-coloured Spring 2008 collection through non-traditional means, the Sound of Color saw the clothing company, in conjunction with San Francisco-based production company Rehab, approach five bands and ask them to write a song based on a specific colour. The Blakes, a Seattle-based Indie band, took blue; Dntel, a member of the band The Postal Service, took on red; hip-hop artist/producer Swizz Beats was given green, singer/songwriter Marié Digby yellow, and The Raveonettes opted for black and white.

Once the songs were complete, they were then given to five directors who were asked to create videos to accompany them. While they were requested to reflect the colour associated with each track in their films, the directors were otherwise given a free rein to create the films however they liked, without consultation with the musicians.

Chris Do's video for The Raveonettes' song Black/White, based, unsurprisingly, on the colours black and white

This more subtle approach to advertising is something of a new direction for Gap, although draws on its previous relationship with music, which has played a dominant role in the brand's television advertising. In keeping with the non-trad approach, the films won't appear on TV, but instead via the Sound of Color site, blogs and other websites.

Blip Boutique's video for Dntel track Turning Red

The films also proved a new challenge for the directors, who were asked to create videos that operate as videos but also as short films. Shown above is Blip Boutique's video for Dntel's track Turning Red. "As the Sound of Color project was specifically intended as an online campaign with a viral focus, we saw this more in terms of branded content than a traditional music video," they say of working on the project. "We find that unlike contemporary music video, which tends to have an extremely narrow definition of what is possible, that digital content has become an extremely open creative space where the possibilities are endless."

Russ Lamoureux's video for The Blakes' Magic, based on the colour blue

Russ Lamoureux, whose video for The Blakes' Magic (shown above) was inspired by the colour blue, also found the process unusual. "The greatest challenge on this project was filming a compelling narrative in one day and with no dialogue. We wanted to come up with a piece that felt more like a short film, as opposed to a pure music video, using the song as a soundtrack - a way to fill in the blanks."

Tony Gatsoulis' video for Swizz Beatz's Candy Paint, based on the colour green

All the films can be viewed at The Sound of Color website until mid-March, where interviews with the artists can also be viewed and the songs are available for free download.


thanks for posting about this - as an artist focused on colour, i'm always interested in others doing the same. (not quite sure about gap's previous relationship to colour, but hey).

you may be interested in german sound artist carsten nicolai, who has recently exhibited a piece of technology that converts sound waves into colour waves. he created sound pieces that would emit hues of blue (his fabre du jour), but also created coloured palette "drawings" that would emit particular sound sequences.
2008-02-26 14:56:17


yet more MoneyMen disingenuously generating meaning as if art or invention or a human connection really was the desired end result -- and not pregnant profit forecasts.

lots of interesting ideas: once again maimed by heavy handed hypocrisy.

"So basically, we scoured culture for anything we might hijack and this is what our guys got."
2008-02-26 15:41:29

Swizz Beatz video = most interesting.

Outside the brief, probably the worst song and video.
But as part of the collective, makes you glad it wasn't all love songs and odes to the beauty of colour.
2008-02-26 18:23:44

Didn't Adidas do the exact same thing two years ago?
2008-02-26 19:14:13

The color a person chooses as their favorite is the same color as millions of others. why? could be the fact that there is only so many primary colors. there is something comforting and familiar to a person about a color, and when you bring that sense out, you can sell them anything.

My name is Michael Goldstein, and I have been working on the same issue as this blog, about colors in marketing.
Check out my companies blog STUN MEDIA
( ).
Michael Goldstein
2008-05-03 11:01:17

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