Commercial or branded podcast? Dove and Pandora create a new thing

We got word that Dove was advertising on Pandora in an unusual way that seems to interestingly straddle categories. The bath care company (that’s Dove, not Pandora) worked with Studio Resonate, a division of Pandora that self-describes as “An audio-first creative consultancy […] at the crossroads of creative and data, science and sound.” The outcome is something between a music track and a podcast episode.

You can shortcut to it here — a Pandora account (free or paid) is needed to listen.

What you’ll hear is The Tropical Moods SoundEscape, a sort of guided meditation that involves bathing and dosing oneself with Dove products. Like any good podcast, this extended commercial is enhanced with well produced music and tropical sound effects. Users are asked to visualize a guided exploration of the environment, and prompted about which product should be deployed. The self-help aspect is both broad and specific: Broad its overall relaxation vibe, and specific instructions along the way, like letting go of specific stresses by popping bath bubbles.

To us, the 23-minute program acts as an activity-based playlist of sorts, a seamless presentation that is divided into differentiated segments. At the same time, it is an overt branded podcast which lingers of product specifics and instructs in their uses. Listeners are encouraged to save it along with their favorite tracks or podcasts.

In the browser app, the experience is listed under an “Episodes” header. Sounds like a podcast launch to us, so we asked pandora whether a series is planned. Not currently, the answer came back, but the Studio Resonate team would produce more if Dove were to renew the sponsorship program.

Steve Keller is Studio Resonate’s Sonic Strategy Director and resident expert on crossmodal science. “We’ve combined sound science with sound art to craft a multi-sensory moment, driven by music, sound design, and voice,” he observed.

For Dove, the project matches the company’s marketing goals with the unique moment of the time, in which people need stress relief. This from Dove’s Marketing Director Amy Stepanian: “We know people want and need relaxing experiences right now, which is why we started asking ourselves, how could we bring that to peoples’ homes and headphones? This was Dove’s initial seed of an idea that grew into the Tropical Moods SoundEscape, thanks to the collaboration of Pandora and the Studio Resonate team.”

Brad Hill