Cheez-It Aged By Audio

Cheez-It Aged By Audio



BETTER SOUND 2023 | Category: Audio Marketing


SXM Media – Studio Resonate



It’s one thing to use music to drive an advertising campaign. It’s another to use music to change the advertised product at a molecular level. Studio Resonate combined psychoacoustics, microbiology, and cheesemaking to produce a sonically aged cheese that was used to create the world’s first “sonically aged snack”: Aged By Audio Cheez-It.


Cheez-It has always gone to absurd lengths to celebrate and fuel people’s natural obsession with cheese. When Leo Burnett, Cheez-It’s Advertising Agency of Record, heard about an obscure Swiss study that suggested that cheese aged to hip hop had a discernibly different aroma and flavor, it felt like an opportunity to blend psychoacoustics and molecular gastronomy to invent a “sonically aged cheese snack”.

To pull it off, Leo would need a team of sonic specialists whose obsession with music and sound is as intense as Cheez-It’s obsession with cheese: Pandora and Studio Resonate. Pandora’s Music Genome project uses over 400 attributes to describe songs and mathematics to connect them together into a DNA map, and Studio Resonate had the expertise needed to combine both the science and the art that would bring the project to life.

Based on the Swiss experiment, we curated a hip hop playlist designed to mirror the tempo and timbral parameters of the original study. We then traveled to a cheese processing facility in Brewster, Idaho, where we attached transducers to four barrels (1,000 pounds) of cheese. The transducers channeled vibrations produced by our specially curated hip-hop playlist, permeating the cheese non-stop, 24-hours a day, for 6 months. These vibrations had an effect on the development of microorganisms and bacteria, changing the molecular structure of the cheese as it aged.

At the end of the aging process, we shipped our “sonically aged cheese” to Kellogg’s Research and Innovation facility, along with a sample of cheese that had aged alongside our experimental cheese without being exposed to the music and the resulting vibrations. At a blind randomized taste test by a panel of judges, we found that, compared to our control, our sonically aged cheese had a distinctly milder flavor and aroma, with a noticeable difference in the texture and finish.

Kellogg’s used our hip hop infused cheese to create limited edition boxes of “Aged by Audio” Cheez-It, debuting the first-ever snack sonically aged cheese snack, packaged in beautifully designed boxes and offered for sale on a dedicated microsite, along with a QR code linked to a consumer facing mixtape based on our experimental playlist. We produced a set of videos and partnered with rapper/radio personality Sway Calloway to support the launch. Earned media amplified the story about our tasty blend of sound science and sound art, so much so that the boxes sold out in a matter of weeks – though rumor has it that you can still buy a box or two for $150 on ebay.


Project video