Tools and Weapons Podcast

OVERVIEW

In partnership with Microsoft, Listen created a new podcast for President and Vice Chair Brad Smith. Listen collaborated with Microsoft's Corporate, External and Legal Affairs team (CELA) on creative development, production, and distribution, and led a paid campaign promoting the podcast's launch.

SERVICES:

Podcast Production, Music Composition, Sound Design, Podcast Campaign Strategy

APPLICATION:

Podcast, Audio Advertising

OPPORTUNITY

While Brad Smith is a well-known figure in business and policy circles who's increasingly visible in the media, Microsoft saw podcasting as an opportunity to make deeper connections with his growing audience around critical issues like cybersecurity, misinformation, and climate change.

Taking its name from his 2019 bestselling book (co-authored by Carol Ann Browne), Tools and Weapons would put Brad in conversation with change-makers at the intersection of tech, policy, and culture.

PROCESS

We worked with Brad and his team at Microsoft across all aspects of series development, from creating an episode format to developing an audiovisual identity for the podcast.

Understanding that music and sound design would play an especially important role not just in defining an audio brand but Brad's approach to storytelling within episodes, we crafted a flexible sonic toolkit made up of all-original theme music and stings that could help punctuate key moments and moods.

With the creative plan locked, we concepted and managed all stages of production – from a bespoke briefing process engineered to support one of Microsoft's busiest executives, through to recording, editing, mixing, and distribution through major podcast platforms.

Original Theme Music (in situ)
Sting: Energetic & Propulsive
Sting: Thoughtful & Intimate
Outro Theme (in situ)

SOLUTION

The first six-episode season of Tools and Weapons with Brad Smith premiered in July 2022. Though Brad's candid conversations and warm, witty personality are what truly make the series, our creative direction and production help set it apart, bringing polish and expertise to this unique editorial platform.

EDITORIAL & CREATIVE

We and the Microsoft CELA team decided early in our development process that getting guests to step out of talking points and reveal a genuine connection to big, complex issues should key to our podcast editorial. In this exchange, Brad encourages Trevor Noah to explore his connection to the issue of digital misinformation on a level deeper than his reputation as a news satirist, creating a moment for sharing a diverse, accessible viewpoint.

MUSIC COMPOSITION & SOUND DESIGN

Our sonic toolkit for Tools and Weapons contains a panoply of mood-evoking musical ideas, flexibly composed so we can adapt them to emphasize all kinds of moments across the podcast. In this clip from Brad’s interview with Thomas Friedman, a playful melody and energizing percussion punctuate the New York Times columnist’s phrasing, making an insightful moment memorable and electrifying.

IMPACT

After supporting the launch with an awareness campaign through major podcast networks like NPR, Vox, and the New York Times, Tools and Weapons has been a top-20 technology podcast on major platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. We supported our great editorial with an awareness campaign that included placements in such high-profile networks as The New York Times, NPR, and Vox.

Follow Tools and Weapons wherever you get your podcasts.