Can This Scientifically Formulated Music Track Ease Acute Pain?

McCann London's latest experiment for Nurofen

Swirling strings, buoyant bells and pleasing piano melodies can sooth troubled souls—but could they also help relieve acute pain? Nurofen, the pain medication brand, believes so, and released an upbeat orchestral track designed to reduce listeners' physical discomfort.

Working with McCann London, psychology researcher Dr. Claire Howlin and musician/composer Anatole (aka Jonathan Baker), the Reckitt drug brand dropped "All of Us" on Spotify, Facebook and YouTube last week.

"When people listened to the track, their pain scores dropped—less pain intensity and less pain unpleasantness," Howlin explains in the clip below.

Tune Out Pain by Nurofen

Of course, the track can't mend inflamed nerve endings or unstiffen arthritic joints, but its ambient vibe has the power to distract and pacify, clearly a benefit.

"The combination of science and music can create a new language and it has the potential to have really positive benefits in the immediate time that you're interacting with it," Anatole says.

The campaign, "Tune Out Pain," seeks to spark a conversation around alternative and holistic treatments. Nurofen and McCann traversed similar territory in their "profanity" project from 2019.

"Like any scientific endeavor, it started with a hunch, based on observations," McCann London executive creative director Sanjiv Mistry says of the pair's tuneful collaboration. "We knew, for instance, that dental surgeries have used music for years to calm patients during painful treatments. The big surprise came when we started digging and discovered there is a wealth of very robust science that demonstrates the benefits of music engagement for pain management."

With that in mind, the team set out to "use the science to see if we could design and compose a track from the ground up with the specific intention of helping people dissociate from pain," Mistry says.

They tapped into Howlin's expertise because she has spent the past six years researching the effects of music on pain management at University College Dublin. 

Based on her clinical and laboratory observations, she and Anatole determined the track should include:

• A syncopated beat across a tune that ebbs and flows, rather than repetition
• 110 beats per minute, to engage a broad audience
• Distortion to drive the crescendo
• Friendly voices and other familiar or nostalgic sounds in the mix

"Our intention is for 'Tune Out Pain' to be a useful, practical solution for people to add to their pain management tools," Mistry says. "There is a growing body of science behind music having an analgesic effect, but it's still relatively unknown to ordinary people. We are proud to bring it to a broader audience in the hope that more people are better able to manage and stay in control of their pain." 

Nicholas Rougeux created the track's cover art, seen at the top of this story, with each individual instrument represented by a different hue. (Last week, Behr and Katy Perry explored music and color in a markedly different way.)

CREDITS

Project Name: Tune Out Pain 
Client Name: Nurofen 

Nurofen
Health Regional Director Strategy and Marketing: Charlotte Shloesing
Category Manager: Sezi Unluturk 
Senior Brand Manager: Sandra Toivo
Assistant Brand Manager: Natália Albertini

McCann London
Creative Agency:  McCann London
Chief Creative Officers: Laurence Thomson & Rob Doubal
Chief Strategy Officer: Theo Izzard-Brown
Executive Creative Directors:  Sanjiv Mistry & Jamie Mietz  
Creative Directors: Rob Webster & Alexei Berwitz
Lead Senior Creatives: Juan Peirano & Hetu Negri 
Creatives: Adam Taylor Smith & Stephen Yeates
SVP, Global Brand Strategy Director: Karen Crum
Planning Partner: Jonathan Brown
Business Director: Georgie Rechner 
Account Director: Rita Diria 
Account Manager:  Anne Devillers 
Senior Planner: Rebecca Priest 
Planner: Tara Henderson
Senior Project Manager: Suzanne Schurgers

Craft
Chief Production Officer: Sergio Lopez
Head of Integrated Production: Sophie Chapman-Andrews
Executive Producer: Amos Usiskin
Senior Producer: Rebecca Wilford
Producer: Nathan Theys
Researcher: Rebecca King
Editor: Douglas Flockhart

Production
Director: Daniel Hegarty, Marmalade Films  
Producer: Daniel Dowling
Grade: Juliette Wileman (Absolute Post)
Sound Mix: Grand Central Recording Studios

University College Dublin
Dr. Claire Howlin
Dr. Brendan Rooney
Alison Stapleton

Music
"All Of Us"
Written By Jonathan Baker 
Performed By Anatole
Published by Decca Music Group Ltd, administered by Universal Music Publishing Ltd
Courtesy of Mercury KX, Under licence from Universal Music Operations Ltd
In partnership with Globe, Universal Music UK

Media handled through Zenith
Digital handled through RB Studios 
PR handled through Havas SO

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