The BBC’s trailer for Planet Earth II has already been an enormous success online, garnering millions of views. Part of its power lies in its incredible footage, of course, yet tying this together is its music, which is a new version of Hoppipolla by Sigur Rós, remixed by the band especially for the BBC earlier this year.
Hoppipolla was used as the soundtrack for the trailer for the first series of Planet Earth, back in 2006, and BBC Creative was keen to echo this in the new film, though give the music a modern twist.
“When we originally pitched our idea for this campaign, one of the key things we wanted was to look at approaching Sigur Rós to revisit Hoppipolla,” says Vicky Stephenson, creative on the trailer alongside Sarah Gerona. “We remembered the original campaign back in 2006, and it was such an astonishing thing at the time, it really resonated with us. It just captured people’s imaginations and became sonic branding for Planet Earth…. It just still seemed the perfect fit for us but we did want to do something different – evolve it, like the programme has evolved because it was ten years since the original.”
“We sent them a brief and said ‘could you approach it as if you’re creating Hoppipolla in 2016 – what would you do differently if you were making the track today?’,” Stephenson continues. “In an ideal world we would have absolutely loved them to rerecord it but we were aware they were in the middle of a world tour so we were lucky to get them to agree to do anything.
“We were absolutely thrilled with the remix they gave us. All four original members of the band, who were the original writers of the track, got involved in the process. They dug out all of the original masters and all the different stems from the original track and basically did a complete remix, pulling out elements that hadn’t really been heard before.”
The team at BBC Creative suggested parts of the music that could be emphasised in the new version. “There were certain things that we wanted to achieve – we wanted it to feel more modern and fresh; we also wanted to increase the dynamics, make the quiet elements even more fragile and beautiful, make the bottom end even more powerful,” explains Stephenson. “We’d noticed that there was a choir, but mixed very low in the original, and we really wanted to boost that because we knew one way to give it a real human element and an emotive element was by bringing out the choir. It gives a real ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ feeling.”
Hollipolla has become one of Sigur Rós’ best known works, and has been used a lot over the years in TV trailers, but the band is very protective of its use in commercial advertising. “Normally they refuse any usage of it,” says Stephenson, “but because it was specifically for Planet Earth and David Attenborough and we re-emphasised the conservation message in this series, that all went in our favour.”
And ten years on, the music still feels just right for the programme. “We thought it was still a perfect fit because we knew it would resonate with the heartland audience who remembered the original series,” says Stephenson, “plus we also thought it had a great appeal to a new audience and that’s what we’ve been seeing on social media.”
Agency: BBC Creative
Creatives: Vikki Stephenson, Sarah Gerona
Creative head: Mina Patel
ECDs: Aiden McClure, Laurent Simon
Editor: Thomas Iannou (& Collo Caulton)