Yessian Music, Metro Detroit Company, Creates Music For Five Super Bowl Commercials
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The advertising agencies who create the commercials that air during the Super Bowl get plenty of publicity, and in the weeks leading up to Sunday's game, companies released several advance ads to a flurry of attention. But what about the people who make the music used in the ads?
Yessian Music was founded in 1970 in a converted bait shop in Farmington, Mich., a Detroit suburb. The company, which now has offices in L.A., New York and Germany and has upwards of 25 full-time employees, is run by original founder Dan Yessian and his two sons, Michael and Brian Yessian. This year, they've put their tunes to five Super Bowl commercials.
Yessian is responsible for the soundtrack to national ads promoting Budweiser, a Hyundai TV/web project, NBC's "The Voice" and RAM. An ad for Cleveland Clinic Hospitals, which will air in the Midwest market, also uses Yessian's musical offerings.
Generally, Yessian will compete with several other companies to produce the best music for a particular commercial. For the Budweiser "Eternal Optimism" commercial, they wowed ad agency Anomaly with a mash-up of "She Sells Sanctuary" by The Cult and "Good Feeling" by Flo Rida that matches a visual movement through time, from the early 1940s to today. Rapper Flo Rida's 2011 hit doesn't readily evoke a 1950s aesthetic, but Emmy Award-winning composer Dan Zank, who works out of the New York office, was able to make the sound fit a different time period.
"There's so much music flying around out there it could be anything," Yessian explained. "It's great to work on projects that are so musically driven. Music is so subjective that one person may say, 'I love The Cult' and I could say, 'I hate that band.' But if it works, it works."
For the RAM commercial, the creatives at Yessian went with an Americana sound. "It slowly became a call to action, more rock-influenced, hyping us up musically and giving us an emotional charge," Yessian said.
For the Hyundai commercial, Yessian Music was responsible for sound design. In order to capture the sound of performance vehicles, technicians ride in the cars with boom mics, recording all the sounds the car makes.
It's important to the folks at Yessian to use authentic sounds. Sound designer Jeff Dittenber can frequently be found walking around town with his mic, or doing things like carving turkeys and breaking wood in his studio in order to produce sounds that are as realistic as possible.
While a large number of the company's projects are advertising-based, Yessian has a wide variety of clients. They composed the theme music for NBC Sports' "Costas Tonight," a new show hosted by Bob Costas that will air a Super Bowl edition on Sunday.
The company also has more obscure projects, including soundtracks for amusement parks. Somewhat surprisingly, the art of themed attraction sound design is in high demand, and Yessian recently worked on creating the sound for Ferrari World, a theme park in Abu Dhabi.
Michael Yessian, a clarinet player, said he and his brother knew they wanted to be in the music business for a long time. His father originally advised them against joining the family business -- a tactic they now realize was designed to test their dedication.
"Once we convinced him that this is what we do, it blossomed from there," Yessian said. The two brothers have been responsible for opening Yessian Music outposts in other cities. "There's a lot of cross-pollination between the two of us and we complement each other really well."
Though Michael won't be rooting for a particular team in Sunday's Super Bowl -- he's a Detroit Lions fan through-and-through -- he and his family will be watching and paying close attention to the commercials.
"We put so much time into these projects, so it's always a great feeling to see it on air," he said.
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story referred to directives from Anomaly for the Budweiser "Eternal Optimism" commercial as wide open, as well as to intense research undertaken by Yessian Music for the project. Michael Yessian later clarified the working relationship with the company, saying, "Anomaly provided us with a full creative brief and we executed a music exploration in collaboration with the agency."
WATCH a preview of Budweiser's "Eternal Optimism" commercial: