A view from Unruly

Samsung's 'The Anthem' is a feat of diplomacy and sound design

Social video expert Unruly reviews the latest viral by Samsung.

"The Anthem" is an incredible achievement in sound design, with its makers somehow managing to combine songs written in different languages, different key signatures and across spans of centuries into a single moving piece."


7 / 10

When you think about it, national anthems are pretty funny things. As if national dress, cuisine and traditions weren’t enough to distinguish us, countries all around the world feel the need to establish a catchy little tune for the populace to memorise. It’s basically a patriotic ringtone.

And if you thought national anthems weren’t strange enough, a little research reveals just how deep the rabbit hole goes: for example, did you know the UK and Liechtenstein anthems share the same tune? Or that Greece’s is 158 stanzas long? Or that Ukraine’s national anthem begins with the line ‘Ukraine is not yet dead’?

Suffice to say, this is pretty rich ground to explore and partly explains why anthems are the centrepiece of Samsung’s latest Olympics spot. With the Rio games beginning this week, brands have been prepping as hard as the athletes, releasing dozens of flag-waving, rabble-rousing ads. While the Olympics are typically a time for a bit of old-fashioned patriotism, Samsung’s ad goes in a rather different direction.

Appropriately titled "The Anthem", the spot cuts begins on an Australian beach, the Sydney Harbour Bridge peaking lambently through the mist. Holding her Samsung Galaxy phone up in true selfie-style, a young girl sings a line from the national anthem of Botswana. Don’t worry if you haven’t brushed up on that anthem in a while, because we cut quickly to a tropical city, where an old man reciprocates with a line from the Australian anthem.

From there, Samsung’s anthem pinballs around the globe, seamlessly weaving together the individual anthems of dozens of nations into a single cohesive song. We hear snippets from Canada, Malawi, New Zealand, Tunisia, South Korea and many many more, as the spot’s message becomes crystal clear. Besides being the diplomatic version of a mash-up, "The Anthem" attempts to disband national differences through shared qualities.

As Samsung proclaims at the end of the spot, they are, "Proud sponsors of a world without borders."

If nothing else, "The Anthem" is an incredible achievement in sound design, with its makers somehow managing to combine songs written in different languages, different key signatures and across spans of centuries into a single moving piece. And it is moving, just like Samsung’s previous Olympics ad "The Chant".

Focusing on South Sudan’s athletics hopeful, Margret Rumat Rumat Hassan, "The Chant" went for a similar sweeping scale and has been watched over 22 million times. With "The Anthem" already catching up, it’s clear Samsung’s new ambitious sonic direction is working in its favour.