Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why Harman Kardon blended sound, vision and NFTs with a unique art competition

Earlier this month, Montreux in Switzerland played host to the culmination of a unique marketing collaboration between high-end audio tech manufacturer Harman Kardon and OneOf, an environmentally-conscious NFT (non-fungible token) platform backed by legendary music producer Quincy Jones. 

The Harman Kardon Suites Art of Sound 2022 competition invited artists from across Europe to create a unique digital artwork inspired by the classic Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, performed by virtuoso pianist and Harman Kardon ambassador Lang Lang. 

The ten best entries (as selected by the public in an online vote) were then displayed at a first-of-its-kind digital exhibition during the famous Montreux Jazz Festival, July 1-16, offering music lovers a new dimension of art to explore. The exhibition also featured an immersive sound experience provided by the brand’s newest soundbar, the Harman Kardon Citation MultiBeam 1100

New Digital Age (NDA), the only UK media title to be invited to the Art of Sound awards ceremony in Montreux, took the opportunity to find out more about the motivations behind the unique collaboration, by speaking to Robert-Jan van Dormael, Vice President of Integrated Marketing EMEA at HARMAN International (parent of Harman Kardon) and Lin Dai, CEO at OneOf.

“Staying true to the Harman Kardon philosophy of beautiful sound, we wanted to merge the emotion and beauty of music and visual art in an unprecedented way through the Art of Sound competition,” said HARMAN’s van Dormael. “Visual art and music have many parallels as they both have a positive impact on individuals and society. 

“We’ve partnered with the Montreux Jazz Festival before, but this year’s Festival wasn’t confirmed to be happening until February of this year, which didn’t give us a lot of time to work with. Instead of planning a customer marketing activation with a retail component as before, we wanted to include a digital component, which eventually led us to speak to the team at OneOf.” 

OneOf is an NFT platform connecting fans and collectors to their favourite musical artists, athletes and brands. Built on Tezos and Polygon, the platform supports NFTs on multiple energy-efficient blockchains to be significantly more sustainable than its competitors.

Lin Dai said: “We think NFT is a technology that’s going to change everything. It was actually very easy to convince Quincy Jones to partner with us because we have an opportunity to revolutionize how music is being collected and, potentially, put more revenue into the pockets of musicians. That’s something that Quincy has championed his entire life. In 5 to 10 years, I don’t think we’ll be saying things like ‘This is an NFT activation’. Instead, I believe that NFTs will naturally be a part of practically every marketing campaign.

“NFTs represent the first time that you can truly ensure that the digital asset in your possession is authentic and not a copy. The applications of that are very, very broad. For digital artists and musicians, this is the first time that their work is truly protected.”

The Harman Kardon Suites Art of Sound competition culminated in a glittering awards dinner at the stunning Montreux Palace hotel, where Juan Carlos Ribas of Essen, Germany was named winner for his artwork, ‘Reverie’. The image will now be auctioned on the OneOf platform on the artist’s behalf.