An emotional Super Bowl ad, “Buckle Up, Baby,” for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, reminded viewers about the importance of seat belts for kids. The ad featured musical arrangement and audio post by HOBO, the studio led by founder and president, Howard Bowler. The ad was created by Albuquerque-based advertising, branding and design firm Vaughn Wedeen Kuhn, and was directed by Sean Broughton via New York production company Rogue Unit.
“It was exciting to work on something that you know a lot people are going to see, something that’s not just an ad, but an important message that can save lives and change society in a positive way,” said Stephen Davies, HOBO audio engineer. In addition to the audio mix, Davies arranged and performed the version of the lullaby “Hush, Little Baby,” featured in the spot.
“Buckle Up, Baby” delivers the message that seatbelts save lives with a montage of various fathers singing a variation of the lullaby as they carefully buckle in their kids. For Davies, the key challenge with the audio was to subtly pitch correct all of the individual performances, which were recorded on-set during production and off key in a lot of places. “Some of the voices were out of tune, so we needed to correct the pitch, but not make it sound too perfect,” said Davies. “We worked hard to find just the right amount of pitch correction to use for each voice.”
In addition, a second spot was created entitled “Deadly Conversation,” highlighting the dangers of texting while driving, featuring original music and a final mix by Davies. “Deadly Conversation” has not yet been released.