CHAPTER 5

Intel (1994)

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“The Intel® Sound Mark and Intel® Brand Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation, or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Further, the Intel® Sound Mark is protected by copyright and should not be used for any commercial purposes without express permission.”

It is inside almost computer but most have never seen it.

It is played once every five minutes somewhere in the world.1

It took two weeks to create in a garage in Sherman Oaks, California.2

It is widely considered the best of the best.3

It has been called “the most famous three seconds of music in the world.”4

He’s called it “the mnemonic emperior.”5

It’s the Intel chip.

It’s the Intel sonic logo.

And he … is Walter Werzowa!

Walter Werzowa was born in Vienna, Austria, on December 15, 1960. He and his wife Evelyne currently reside in Los Angeles with their three children Camille, Julien, and Lucca. He studied classical guitar and electronic music at Vienna Musik Hochschule where he collaborated with Otto M. Zykan on contemporary classical music.

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Werzowa was in the band Edelweiss. It was an Austrian electronica/ dance band consisting of remixers Martin Gletschermayer, Matthias Schweger, and Walter. The group is best known for their 1988 worldwide hit “Bring Me Edelweiss”, and their European hit “Starship Edelweiss”. Edelweiss reached the number one position with their hit “Bring Me Edelweiss,” featuring Austrian folk singer Maria Mathis, who also did the live performances (and later recorded an updated version in 1999). The single was a hit in many European countries. Borrowing large parts of its melody from ABBA’s “SOS” and Indeep’s “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life”, the song humorously targeted Austrian ski resorts and yodeling and sold five million copies worldwide.6

Werzowa shares a ‘great story’ about the ABBA sample:

When we decided to use the chorus of SOS in the Edelweiss song, we called the publishers in Sweden, the other publishers, and really this was pure luck. I guess I had so much luck in my life. A person picked up who obviously wasn’t sober let’s say it this way, and we basically conveyed at the time it wasn’t unusual. Everybody took whatever they wanted to and sampling was just take it and use it in a song. This is like mid-1980s, and it was the Pioneer world of sampling and taking. We asked if we can implement the melody and write new lyrics. We asked for a fax verification of that yes. We got one of those faxes at the time, you know those things that your roll and they come out. Probably at this point, you won’t even be able to read it anymore. Luckily, it got copied many times. That was it. We released it and it became a huge hit. It’s always hoped for but not intended. And suddenly, we got this call from Sweden. The ABBA lawyers called and said basically, “Sue your up to the yin yang,” because they thought we used it illegally. ABBA wanted to release a record at that time with a come back kind of idea. They said now that they destroyed the name they can’t release it and all that, and damages, so still even though we knew that we had this paper we were a little bit scared, but that paper really helped. It was legally binding and I don’t know what they did to that person who signed, but it all worked out fine.7

Werzowa immigrated the United States in 1991 after Edelweiss disbanded to complete a postgraduate program at USC for motion picture and television scoring. After an internship with Walt Disney Company writing music for movie trailers, Werzowa started his own company called Musikvergnuegen (German for “enjoyment of music.”) The Intel project came from Kyle Cooper, a friend employed at the company R/GA in Los Angeles who had been hired by Dennis Carter, Intel’s Chief Marketing Officer, to turn the Intel swirl into animation and sound. “Intel had a problem. A rapid development cycle meant microprocessor speed and capability were advancing quickly, but manufacturers weren’t keeping up with the cutting edge. Manufacturers were reluctant to upgrade from the 286 chip to the 386, and consumers didn’t know enough to care. “Intel’s whole reason for existence was to push technology as fast as you can push it and then help the world adopt it so that everybody advances. And then do it again,” recalls Carter. “1989 rolls around and we’ve introduced the 386 several years before. It’s a very successful product, but it’s not displacing the previous generation and that’s a concern.” Instead of continuing to market to manufacturers, the company decided on a new approach. In 1989, Carter led a pilot program in Denver that targeted consumers with a simple billboard campaign that became infamously known inside and outside Intel as the Red X campaign. It featured a crossed-out “286” with “386” written over it in graffiti. Before long, customers began asking for the 386 by name and manufacturers were forced to bake it into their products. The campaign was a success, but Intel would soon need a way to replicate the results on a much larger scale, and for a newer medium. After a court ruling stripped the naming trademarks for the 386 and 486, Carter looked for ways to evangelize Intel itself rather than specific processors. This would lead to the genesis of the Intel Inside campaign, launched in 1991 with the now-famous Intel swirl logo. Then in 1994, Intel was ready to expand to television, presenting a new set of challenges. “Nobody was going to run a 30-second ad with the logo there the whole time, it would look stupid. An audio component seemed like it would work really well,” Carter said. “That audio component would become what might be the most iconic three seconds of branded audio ever recorded: The Intel bong sound.”8

Werzowa says he didn’t get much direction to compose the accompanying jingle. “The sound needed to convey reliability, innovation and trust,” Werzowa said. He says the “Intel Inside” tagline triggered a melody in his head, and those were the notes that became the Intel bong sound: D flat, D flat, G flat, D flat, A flat. The rhythm of those four notes is patterned after the syllables in Intel’s slogan: In-tel In-side. Werzowa spent weeks in his Sherman Oaks garage refining the five-note sequence into the jingle that’s since become so recognizable. Each of the five tones is a blend of various synthesizers—mostly a lot of xylophone and marimba.9

“There’re so many fond memories even around the production. It started in a very particular way that at the time Kyle Cooper, he was the junior designer at Imaginary Forces at the time, this was 93 I believe, called me and said he has this very different kind of job and I worked a lot with Imaginary Forces. He said, “You wouldn’t believe somebody wants to have three seconds of music.” Kyle and I were laughing on the phone and, “You have time to come in and I’ll show you the boards?” He showed me the boards. There were six key frames of the Sonic logo in there and, and we were both a little bit frazzled. It’s like, “Can you even write a piece of music which makes sense and it’s three seconds long? You can’t say a meaningful sentence in three seconds. Could you write three seconds of music?” I realized right away this is a very different kind of assignment. On my way back from the meeting in the car, I browsed and tried to get on my thoughts and in my head nothing really made sense. When I was back at my studio, I tried melodies playing the piano and the guitar and whatever. It was really, really difficult to make any sense with it. I had to present an idea on the coming Monday. The meeting was on a Thursday or Friday. It was like just a weekend. Two days in, I got really anxious and stressed with it and I put again the board on the piano and looked at it and suddenly I had that idea which now made history since the tagline was Intel inside and could read it and see it. Fortunately, nobody would say it, there wasn’t any voiceover over the mnemonic. I thought if this was a song, I would try the melody Intel inside like the four notes. And then, I thought we’re dealing with engineers so it needs to be something very straight and organized and a very clear pattern and since it had to be applicable to any culture, there are only a few intervals which really make sense in China as well as in India as well as in the United States and Austria and France and whatever. That’s the fourth and the fifth which are very powerful. So basically constructed and didn’t compose the mnemonic, and I think the rest is history. This was a very strong moment that moment when that idea came up, how to tackle it. And then later on, it was great to hear it every couple of minutes and it became the most performed melody in broadcast. For a composer, that’s incredible. I have to admit, the first couple of month I wouldn’t have dared to tell my Austrian music teachers that I’ve done this because before when I started music we had to write symphonies, which are at least 20, 25 minutes long. If I would’ve told any of my professors that I got a hit with three seconds, they would have laughed and dismissed it. Right now, when I talk to those teachers, they think, “Wow. This is a great accomplishment.” At the time, I was really scared that they wouldn’t acknowledge that as a big success. And then later on, when my kids heard that mnemonic on the radio, TV, it’s like, “Oh, it’s daddy’s song.” That was very great when your family is applauding and excited about it. Now even engineers when I talk to them they’re like, “Oh, my God. You wrote that?” It is all around incredible to be behind that. Intel was always a fantastic company to work with and very encouraging. I’m really proud of it.”10 Werzowa says that it is “worth millions of dollars”11 Even though he has declined to say what he earned for creating it, calling the amount “not really amazing.,” he admits “if I would have kept the copyright [to the audio mark], I’d be a millionaire right now.”12

Is it safe to assume he made more money off Bring Me Edelweiss off the Intel logo?

Honestly, I never added those things up. It’s hard to say because Intel led into so many things and so did Edelweiss. It’s hard to say. It’s hard to quantify or qualify. Both were important. Probably the Intel story opened so many doors that probably there’s more funds behind that than Edelweiss because I chose a career more in film and moving pictures and writing in that world than writing pop songs.13

Why does he think after all these years it has been so powerful of a sonic logo?

I think it changed over the years why it is so powerful. Right now, I do believe the strongest factor is attention span. Lately, the young generation caters best to six second video snippets, clips as advertisement, and the attention span is shorter and shorter and the media buy is extremely expensive. That’s probably the second reason. Three seconds can be performed more often than a 30-second spot. It was definitely the first hugely media buy mnemonic out there and it really settled the land, so to say. From then on, people tried to copy it and every time something is copied, it made of course the original even stronger, so I think that’s another reason. Yeah.

Intel gets supersonic credit for the fact that they figured out that they couldn’t go to the consumer and say, “This is our chip and this is where it is and this is how much it costs and this is how it works.” From a marketing perspective, they decided to go to companies and say, “Look, we’ve got this great logo, and if you put it in your commercials, we’ll pay for a percentage of your advertising.” Everybody will want Intel inside.

Werzowa agreed. You’re absolutely right in what you’re sharing. In addition to, for the three seconds at the end of God knows like Pioneer spots or whatever they were attached with, they not only said they would pay the media, but they would pay 25 percent actually in processes. If a company got that immediate buy help, they would get 25 percent in cash basically and the other 25 percent in processes. It was a win–win for all. I love those win–win situations where people come up with ideas that help everybody in the process. Yeah. As you said, nobody could touch the processors and nobody knew at the time really what it was unless you were a great engineer. Kyle and I looked at each other when we did the job and we knew that there are some things like those little centipedes in computers, but what a processor would actually do and why you would need them for us creatives it was nothing we would have had any idea about.

Others have agreed.

Fast Company said:

Forget the sound of the waves or the songs of birds, they didn’t even make the top 10. But the jingle advertising a computer chip, and object which most of us have never even seen, took the prominent second spot in our brains in terms of addiction. We strongly respond to the sound of Intel! This tells us that repetition is the key, since most of us can’t even sing it. What this tells us is that there’s no limit to this phenomenon, because a computer chip doesn’t really have a sound.

Forbes said:

Twenty-two years ago, three seconds of audio comprised of five musical notes was written to help a tech brand with its marketing. Today, you can’t think of Intel without hearing the iconic “Intel Inside Bong.” You’ve heard it so many times, even with different variations, but the core five note progression is always the same. How can something so simple be so effective? Well, when you really examine Intel’s use of the mnemonic, you realize that it’s hugely associated with its brand, and its success. What you hear are adjectives that the company wants you to associate with Intel: A modern, trustworthy, sleek, intelligent, simple and efficient brand. Yogiraj Graham, Director of Production for Intel Global Production Labs, explained, “The Intel bong is one of the most powerful assets we have. We’re always looking for ways to showcase the amazing experiences that Intel enables, and the Intel bong sound helps keep our messaging consistent.

Since the original jingle premiered in 1994, Werzowa says he’s updated it every two to three years. Now that the sound is globally recognizable, Intel is much more hands-on. The chipmaker’s in-house creatives, marketing team and legal counsel all provide input before any changes can be made. It’s hard to count how many versions the bong sound has gone through over 20 years, but while the visuals have changed and some bass has been added, the essential five-note sequence remains the same. Even william’s brief tenure as Intel’s director of creative innovation hasn’t had much impact, although the Black Eyed Peas frontman sampled the jingle for his 2013 track “Geekin.” Perhaps the most creative iteration so far is from a group of Intel engineers in Finland, who turned themselves into human cannonballs, and launched into a giant row of chimes—likely with the aid of some video-editing wizardry.14

In 2015, at Super Bowl 50, Intel released a new video called “Experience Amazing.” It was a mash-up of images depicting Intel’s presence in everyday life with the music from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and an orchestral arrangement of Intel’s familiar jingle-bong chime. For Werzowa, it marked a literal coming-home. The music for “Experience Amazing” was conducted and recorded with a 96-piece orchestra in an old music hall in Vienna, Austria. It’s the city where Beethoven first premiered his Fifth Symphony, at the Theater an der Wien on December 22, 1808, and it happens to be the city where Werzowa was born and raised. It was thus of particular importance to Werzowa that the score be “done respectfully,” he told Brief. “Growing up in Vienna, Beethoven was one of the heroes. He wrote [Symphony No.5] in Vienna, he lived in Vienna, he died in Vienna, and he’s part of my culture and ancestry in that sense.” Growing up and going to university in Vienna, Werzowa studied classical guitar and electronic music, but he also, crucially, studied architecture, which he attributes to sowing the seed of his ability to precisely pair visual and audio elements. “I think that’s where it all started from,” he said. “Music can tell stories and so can design or visual arts. If you look at, let’s say, Moroccan carpet, it’s information is a pattern which could be expressed mathematically, and if it’s expressed mathematically you can translate it into music and vice-versa.”15

How does someone go from Bring Me Edelweiss to Beethoven?

That’s a good question. I’m a very curious person and I am workaholic and I love doing many different projects at the same time. I focus for two, three hours on one thing and then I love turning around and doing something else. In that sense, it’s inspiring to work on this huge big symphony and at the same time with audio branding, at the same time sound design for something, and running the company in LA, and running a company here in Vienna and talking to different people. Every conversation is fruitful. It’s like you and I talking inspires me to think more. I think this life is a great opportunity to learn and to grow.16

Werzowa has done more than the Intel logo. He has written music for other commercials and for more than two dozen movie trailers, including Men in Black, The Crying Game, Addicted to Love, The Flintstones, and the recent remake of Psycho. He scored the documentary, Author: The JT LeRoy Story, which was written and directed by Jeff Feuerzeig and is the only film on this subject thus far to receive American and European theatrical distribution, it premiered in United States theaters in September 2016. He scored the main themes to Eraser (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger); Taking Lives (starring Angelina Jolie); The Hunted; Yippee and The Devil; and Daniel Johnston, which received a Sundance Film Festival award. He also earned a music credit on Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report and in 2008 he worked on 8: Person to Person, which was directed by Wim Wenders. He also composed the Nova theme. In 2014, Music Beyond, the production music library founded by Werzowa in 2005, was acquired by BMG. He now serves in a consultant capacity at both BMG and Beyond. In 2016, Werzowa launched HealthTunes.org, a free music/sound streaming platform that offers academically and scientifically researched Health Music and evidence-based clinical reference.

But, if his legacy is the Intel sonic logo, is he ok with it?

Luckily, it’s short enough so it would fit on a tombstone. You can write those four notes up there and then people might even know them and can sing them when they see them. Yeah. That might be a great idea. I’m really proud of it, and most of it because Intel really inspired my thinking in terms of innovation and becoming a tech nerd in a sense. It’s like I love music, music is my passion and creating sound, but with Intel I think more of my drive to know about technology. Over the years, that helped with many projects and museum projects and coming up with ideas, really creative new ideas. Right now, I’m doing this project which would not fit on my tombstone, but I’m really proud of. I’m writing with Ahmed Elgammal. He’s this AI professor genius at Rutgers University, the 10th symphony, Beethoven’s 10th symphony. That’s an incredible opportunity. In a sense, that was also my life with Intel is leading me to that because they’ve done so many great projects over the years where technology was important, and doing this now with AI and machine learning and all of that, Intel really helped that journey as well. And now writing with Beethoven and AI, the 10th symphony, is something extremely meaningful.17

Next to his, what is Werzowa’s favorite sonic logo?

I have to say T-Mobile is definitely really, really up there. It is so simple, so memorable and it’s so difficult to be simple and not stupid. It’s just so easy those days just to play quickly in three seconds some notes, but it doesn’t make much sense. T-Mobile really hones into the logo. It basically scores the visual of the logo with the dots. That’s really brilliant and very powerful as well. I’m so honored that we work with Lance Massey who composed that. He’s a great guy and a wonderful thinker as well as somebody who doesn’t just write, compose and that’s it. He thinks about it and has stories, why, what is meaningful in his audio brandings.18

Does Werzowa have any final thoughts on sonic logos and their future in branding and advertising?

I think they have to become better and trickier. It’s not just a melody. I want to encourage the composers and the agencies, the advertising agencies and the corporations themselves to really think about what the product and the philosophy is standing for, and think of new ways how to propel that. We have so many possibilities now. We can do so many things and can be so innovative that it’s not just a three second melody or two second melody anymore. It is so much more. I had this interview with Stewart Copeland, the drummer of The Police, and he invited me because of Intel and we jammed around a little bit and fooled around a little bit. He’s just such a brilliant musician and said, “What could be a next logo and what could we do?” We basically jammed around for probably half an hour. I had a couple of fun ideas, but again it has to fit for the company and you have to study the company when you write for a corporation, really know everything, know about the product as well as the leadership to make it fly.19

And final thoughts from Werzowa on his success?

Definitely I got lucky and then I learned a lot. Maybe that’s what Austria told me, to be spontaneous and always make the best of it. It’s just every day learning more.20 And he’s a Jeopardy question!

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Note: Intel is the sole owner of all rights to the Intel audio and visual logo. Intel’s significant investment in the use, promotion and licensing of this mark has elevated it to the status of a strong sound mark, one of the most significant sound marks of all time. Based on Intel’s use (making sure that consumers understand that when they hear these five notes that they are getting Intel’s goods and services), Intel has been able to successfully register this sound in trademark offices around the world (often being the first registered sound mark in many of these jurisdictions).

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