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Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Highway Gallery: An unusual radio ad that earned four Cannes Lions

DUBAI – Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first universal museum in the Arab world, opened its doors in 2017. Majority of its visitors come from Dubai by traveling the E/11 Sheikh Zayed road, the longest road in the Emirates, spanning 347 miles from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

To welcome and encourage local residents to visit the museum and to show that art is enjoyable and accessible for everyone, Louvre Abu Dhabi, TBWA\RAAD, and Tony Hertz created one of the most exciting outdoor art experiences ever: Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ‘Highway Gallery’.

A first of its kind, the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ‘Highway Gallery’ composes of 10 huge billboards featuring Louvre’s masterpieces alongside the EE/11 Sheikh Zayed highway. Each billboard is fitted with a solar-powered FM transmitter. Thus, upon approaching the billboards, drivers who are tuned in to 100.5 FM, 91.6 FM or 95.8 FM will hear a museum audio guide and experience the masterpieces like never before.

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adobo magazine speaks with Tony Hertz, the director of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s ‘Highway Gallery’ campaign, and talked about his journey – the ups and downs – in producing a unique radio ad that earned several Cannes Lions awards.

Tony Hertz, a Manila-based British radio and audio director, was tapped by TBWA\RAAD ECD Fouad Abdel to direct the fascinating campaign. “In November last year, he contacted me about the Louvre Abu-Dhabi campaign, a truly innovative idea to install 10 huge posters on the highway between Dubai and Abu-Dhabi, each featuring a masterpiece from the gallery.”

Hertz also shared how tricky it was to produce the audio guides for each billboard, especially that the team members were miles away from each other and only communicate via Skype. “My job as director was to bring the spots to life in 30 seconds, and there were many Skype discussions about what copy could be cut!  I think we went through 5 or 6 versions of each spot. I also had to select appropriate music for each work of art.”

In casting the voice actors and recording the audio guide, Hertz says that the most challenging would be the different time zones.

“The casting brief was quite specific -one male and one female young-sounding British. And for the guy, I chose local British theatre actor Dean Rosen, who I’d seen in Spamalot! The girl was harder to find and I finally went with a young UK-based actress I know, Jessica Brooks. We recorded at HIT [Productions] – Dean in the studio and Jessica via Skype from Leeds – with the agency also attending on Skype. It was a tricky process, with three different time zones and flaky internet connections!”

With its excellent execution, it’s no wonder that the campaign was praised by the public and won several awards in the recent Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity: Gold Lion in the Outdoor category, Silver and Bronze in the Media category, and another Bronze for the Radio/Audio category.

“As a veteran of three Cannes radio juries -once as president- I know how tough the judging process is, so of course I was delighted that the Highway Gallery campaign earned a Radio Lion.  And after all those radio-concentrated years, amazing also to get Outdoor Gold and Media Silver & Bronze! I hope it brings home the important message that cleverly conceived and skillfully directed audio can also add a powerful dimension to creative work across all mediums.”

About Tony Hertz

Tony Hertz’s love affair with radio/audio has spanned 35 years and 6 continents. He’s been a copywriter (still is), CD, Radio Director/Producer and world-traveling teacher (44 countries so far).  

His last agency gig was 14 years as a McCann CD in Japan, Belgium and the UK, winning radio (and TV) awards in all 3 places. 

Pre-and post-McCann, Tony ran two London-based radio specialist companies whose award haul included 24 Clios, a bunch of LIAA and NY Festival statues and other goodies; he’s still the only guy with both Yellow & Black D&AD Pencils for radio.  In Manila, his first radio directing project earned Cannes Silver in 2013.  He’s written a book, The 7 Secrets of Creative Radio Advertising©  

Tony Hertz swears that he is much gentler than his grey hair, deep, gravelly voice, Anglo-American accent and awards list would suggest.

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