Spotlighting fashion label Opening Ceremony ’s pre-spring 2018 collection, “Changers: A Dance Story,” written and directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Spike Jonze and featuring choreography from Ryan Heffington (perhaps best known for his work on music videos for Sia, and collaboration with Squeak E. Clean on the Cannes-winning “Kenzo World” ad), staring Lakeith Stanfield (from the film “Get Out” and the television series “Atlanta”) and actress Mia Wasikowska (from Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”), is wordless performance piece that follows the peaks and valleys of a young couple’s relationship. 

Following its premiere during fashion week, “Changers” enjoyed a sold-out, five-night run at the East Village theater LaMaMa, with proceeds from ticket sales going to the Hurricane Harvey relief fund. Additionally, Jonze, Wasikowska and Stanfield gave an abbreviated performance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. On the show Jonze explained that plans are in the works for the piece to be released online in the near future.

“Changers” Leads To Musical Changes
For Squeak E. Clean Founder/Creative Director Sam Spiegel (who also happens to be Jonze’s brother), the project proved to be immensely challenging composing nearly 60 minutes of original music and clearing 10 tracks (including songs by LCD Soundsystem, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and David Byrne) in the space of a week.

All of tracks ultimately used in the piece required extensive remixing/arranging and editing from Spiegel and the Squeak E. Clean team to match the stage visuals. Accompanying the licensed tracks are some of Spiegel’s original music and sound design.

“Call it semi-organized chaos,” Spiegel says of the production process. “It was challenging because we were figuring it out as we went along with very limited time and budget to pull it off. The project was constantly changing as new ideas were introduced and the choreography shifted, so we needed to keep up in real time with new music, song ideas, edits and beyond.”

Spiegel added, “Squeak E. Clean is the only music houses that could have pulled this off – our ability to clear song licenses, while simultaneously having our creative team on-set working on original music and just keeping up with the pace of this project overall, and maintaining the quality level Spike and Ryan demanded, was no easy feat. Despite the challenges there was a great sense of camaraderie and accomplishment that was gained by everyone involved.”

Industry Accolades
The reviews from many in advertising community have been more than simply positive, those lucky enough to see it believe this type of performance art-meets-branding could be a potential game-changer for the right marketers (with the right creative team behind them).

“It's a case study for the future of how brands can work together,” Kevin G. Reilly, Senior Art Director at Ogilvy & Mather, New York says. “If you're targeting a farmer in rural Indiana, it's a terrible idea, but for a younger generation that's quick to call bullshit on branding and ads, it's something you're going to connect with and want to share.”

Adds Ian Going, Senior Copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather, New York, “Brands that want to talk globally are going to need to communicate in different ways. The age of brands buying their way onto social media feeds will hopefully die soon. That’s going to be a good thing for everyone, and events like this are going to be what kill it.”

David Rolfe, Executive VP, Director of Integrated Production at BBDO, New York, notes that done differently something like “Changers” could come off as pretentious, but this did not. “Opening Ceremony partnering with Spike and Sam, and trusting in the originality of experience they'd deliver, along with their willingness to make an audience smile without pretense, perfectly cuts through the more forced and laborious experiences we've grown too accustomed to,” Rolfe says. “Simply, if you're weren't here during fashion week this year, you were jealous.”

For New York agency Brooklyn Brothers’ Partner/ Executive Creative Director Stephen Rutterford it was more than what he called ‘an astonishing piece of visual story-telling.’ ”Everyone is talking about branded content but very few brands are actually getting out there and doing it and doing it well. I hope this inspires more brands to become ‘Changers’ and we’ll see many more masterpieces like this in the near future.”

About Squeak E. Clean
Since their inception Squeak E. Clean has delivered innovative, high-end original music. Especially known for their artist collaborations, Squeak E. Clean offers a wide range of musical, sound and creative solutions for their clients and partners. Click here for more info about Squeak E. Clean: