If you’ve watched CBS in the past several months, including during the Super Bowl, you’ve probably heard the network’s new five-note mnemonic. The cue now appears in most CBS promos and I.D.s and has become CBS’ audio signature, often paired with the classic network tagline “This Is CBS.”
Now, CBS is taking the mnemonic a step further, hiring dance music DJ and producer CID to create three new songs that incorporate both the five-note cue and old audio of a network announcer intoning, “This… Is CBS.” Each song incorporates a different music style: “Oculus Audax” (Latin for “Bold Eye”) comes with an EDM beat; “Unum Oculum” (Latin for “Unified Eye”) is more of a rhythmic chill sound; and “Oculus Fortem” (Latin for “Strong Eye”) is a pop/rock mix. Scroll down to hear more.
The three songs will be released this weekend to music streaming services and shared on CBS social media channels under the collection title “This Is CBS Remixed,” and will also be incorporated into CBS brand IDs that will debut during the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.
The five-note mnemonic was created by the audio studio Antfood, based on sounds it found buried in a 1950s CBS News opening. The cadence mimicked the voice inflections made by CBS booth announcers saying “This Is CBS.” For CBS chief marketing officer Mike Benson, that’s exactly what he was looking for: “How do I take something old, something familiar and make it feel fresh and new and relevant,” Benson said. “We decided, let’s bring ‘This Is CBS’ back in a way that is through music.”
Benson had become an electronic dance music fan after several trips to Burning Man, which inspired him to turn the CBS audio cue into a larger song remix. But it was a conversation with one of his neighbors, Little Empire Music president Brad Driver, that clued him in to CID.
“We gave him the five-note mnemonic that we created with Antfood, and we gave him the CBS booth announcer voice track,” Benson said. “I gave him a little direction and then he came back with one cut, I fell in love with that. And I said now, can you do something that’s got even more of a chill vibe to it, and he did that. And then I said well can you do something now that’s got almost more of a Coldplay vibe to it, and then he came back with that.”
For CID, who has won two Grammys and remixed artists such as Halsey, Diplo, Lizzo and others, doing something for a corporate brand was a bit of a departure. But the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to his DJ touring schedule, giving him time to try something new like this.
“It really opened up like a whole different creative side of me,” CID said. “I’ve remixed a lot of different artists so for me it was like, wow, I can remix a network? I had a blank canvas. Yes, you’re tied to those five notes but there’s so much you can do. Some of the pieces of music are in completely different keys that I transpose those five notes into something else. Once Mike and I spoke about what direction to go in, I was able to kind of just mess around. And the iconic [‘This Is CBS’] vocal, it’s just something that’s continuously in these songs as well.
CBS tapped Lakeshore Records to distribute “This Is CBS Remixed” to more than 90 music platforms. And CBS has also created artwork, music video and Spotify canvas videos to go along with the songs featuring Easter eggs that reference past and present CBS properties.
“I love what the team created for this, I thought it was just kind of inspired,” Benson said. “I also think that if you’ve never watched CBS before and you’re in your late teens or your 20s and you stumbled upon this, you’ll get a pleasant surprise out of what the brand actually is doing. It’s really a fun, creative piece of art that we’ve created that I hope people like.” Watch here:
As for the utility of the music, Benson said he’s experimenting with it in marketing efforts across entertainment and news, and also giving it to affiliates “to just experiment and play with it. And whether they want to use it for marketing efforts. You may see us use it some way in the upfront, but it’s really designed to be flexible. We can use it for a variety of things, whether it’s background or foreground. I’m just kind of excited to just build upon it.”
Here are all three songs, via Spotify (or find it on Apple Music here):
The “This Is CBS Remixed” IDs won’t be the only reimagined element that CBS viewers see during the Grammys. Benson also revealed that he has brought back the network’s iconic “A CBS Special Presentation” intro (featuring the spinning “SPECIAL”), but updated to fit the current network branding.
“There’s a nod and a hint to the music that was in that,” Benson said, referring to the audio of beating drums that came from the “Hawaii Five-0” soundtrack, “but it integrates our five note mnemonic into that”.
Variety has a first look at the new “A CBS Special Presentation” intro, below:
In case you’ve forgotten how the original “A CBS Special Presentation” intro looked and sounded like, here it is: