Rocks The Office

A music video in Excel, created to sneak through corporate firewalls.

The brief

Reach AC/DC’s audience of white collar workers online with a “blow out moment”. Social media was out due to restricted Internet in offices.

AC/DC Excel spreadsheet

Background info

  • We knew from consumer insight that our target audience of 30-40 year old men use music like AC/DC’s to escape from the stresses of everyday life.
  • Our brief was to reach this audience through the web and to provide them with “a genuine blow-out moment in these serious times”.
  • Furthermore we needed to let them know more practical stuff, like what the new album was called and where they could listen to / purchase it.

The insight

We wanted to reach our audience at a time in their day when they would be feeling the need for some escapism. The obvious place was the office, where most people are online all day. We realised most employees are subjected to fairly restrictive internet policies at work, so channels such as Facebook or YouTube simply wouldn’t be accessible.

The idea

By including AC/DC’s music in an Excel spreadsheet, it would be able to pass through corporate firewalls uninterrupted. The next challenge was to make the content of the spreadsheet interesting so that people would talk about it, and share it with their friends. We decided to render the video for single “Rock N Roll Train” as ASCII art and animate it directly in the cells of the spreadsheet, thus creating a music video in Excel format.

The execution

The spreadsheet contained the music video, preview links for all of the tracks from the album, and links to purchase the album online.

A screenshot of the AC/DC music video spreadsheet.

We created a simple web page so people could download the spreadsheet. We also made a screencast video showing the video playing back in Excel. This was uploaded to AC/DC’s YouTube channel.

We used the video to plug the link for the campaign’s website and to encourage viewers to download the spreadsheet and try it for real. This helped dispel any notions that we might have faked the footage. The video also gave press and bloggers something to embed in their story when writing about the campaign.

We then publicised the campaign, starting in the online tech and gadget blogs and eventually crossing over to mainstream media.

The results

The campaign turned into a phenomenon. The video showing the spreadsheet in action had 1.5 million YouTube views. The spreadsheet itself was been downloaded over 1,000,000 times. The interaction rate on the audio preview links in the spreadsheet was an incredible 31%.

We conservatively estimate we reached at least 3 million people through on and offline media coverage, helping to propel Black Ice to number one in the UK and number one in the pan-european top 100.

Media highlights

Online coverage

  • YouTube US homepage
  • Top 100 YouTube most viewed (worldwide) November 2008
  • #1 most viewed YouTube Australia November 2008
  • Viral Video Chart #4 in world (at peak)
  • Gizmodo
  • MSN Mexico homepage
  • Over 1000 blogs from large to small

Offline coverage

  • The Guardian (Technology)
  • The Guardian (Music)
  • Entertainment Weekly Hitlist
  • Daily Mail
  • Metro
  • The London Paper
  • Q Magazine Hot List January 2009 (#3)

Industry press

  • Contagious Magazine (feature)
  • Contagious Magazine 2008 “most contagious”
  • Shots magazine double page spread
  • FWA Site of the Day


  • Winner of Advertising Campaign category at Media Guardian Innovation Awards
  • Cannes Cyber Lion (Silver)
  • Interactive CLIO (Bronze)
  • D&AD Graphite Pencil
  • London International Awards – The NEW Category – Gold
  • FWA Site of the Day


AC/DC / Columbia Records
Creative Directors
Phil Clandillon & Steve Milbourne
Svetozar Batoev