The ad, filmed entirely in black and white, transports viewers back to 1930s’ New York and tells the story of John Hammond, born in turn-of-the-century Manhattan – before civil rights and when racial disharmony prevailed.
Black and white musicians rarely played together in ‘30s New York and many music venues permitted white audiences only. Despite this, from an early age, John Hammond developed a burning passion for music of black origin – Jazz, The Blues, Big Band and Gospel. He’d travel the clubs and bars of Harlem seeking raw, undiscovered musical talent for his radio show and he’d often be the only white man in the room. Undeterred, he went on to become a remarkable talent scout and was responsible for discovering musicians like Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Aretha Franklin.
He signed them to Columbia Records, giving them an incredible platform to be heard – not only by black audiences but by music lovers across America and the world over. Hammond stood almost alone in championing the potential of black and white musicians working together – and fighting this cause gave him a platform to make a difference.
In his memoirs he reflects, ‘I heard no colour line in the music…’.
Hammond described himself as, “the sometimes intolerant champion of tolerance”. Others described him simply as, “the world’s greatest talent scout”.
He went on to sign legends like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen to Columbia but it was his pivotal role in bringing together black and white musicians that is his most lasting legacy.
With voiceover by US actor and producer Danny Glover the ad offers viewers a window into the John Hammond’s world. Dazzling scenes from across the city show music lovers of all backgrounds, united together, enjoying and celebrating the great sounds playing out over the airwaves.
“‘John Hammond’ continues a series of stories from Guinness that feature ordinary people achieving extraordinary things. John Hammond, in his search for great music, brought black and white musicians together, overcoming divides and creating a fantastic music and social legacy that continues to this day,” explained Guinness’s Marketing Director Stephen O’Kelly.
The music in the ad is a remix of ‘Sing Sing Sing’ from the Swings Kids filmscore by James Horner. The song was originally made famous by the Benny Goodman Trio – the first major mixed race band in America. John Hammond was instrumental in bringing the band members together.
Grammy-nominated Lianne La Havas, who features in the ad, has referenced Hammond artists such as Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan as influences on her music.
The ad was directed by Jake Nava, a top music video and film director, whose portfolio includes videos for Adele, Beyoncé and Artic Monkeys.
To see the ad visit www.GUINNESS.com