The main goal of advertisers is to create content that captures the viewer’s attention. Having been made for decades, commercials remain one of the most effective advertising strategies to date. However, with commercials in all forms of media today – through television, radio, social media, podcasts, and more – it can be difficult to get 100% of your audience’s attention. Often, viewers will divide their attention between other mediums while watching or listening to a commercial, or simply ignore it altogether. This has posed a challenge for advertisers to attempt to recapture their audiences’ collective attention spans.
Autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, is a common experience for many individuals, where certain stimuli invoke a strong, pleasurable tingling sensation. Recognized widely in 2010, more and more creators have used ASMR to build careers and create content.
Advertisers are no exception to ASMR content creation – many advertisers leverage the strong sensation ASMR causes as part of their advertisements. Often described as “brain orgasms”, those who are able to experience ASMR often feel a strong, almost sensual sensation from the tingling that can leave them feeling excited, calm, and de-stressed. Intended to capture the full attention of their views, lots of recent advertisements have incorporated ASMR to give viewers the intensely positive feeling derived from the experience in hopes these positive feelings would relate to their products.
Today, we’ve seen ASMR incorporated into a range of popular advertisements. One of the most notable, a 2019 Superbowl commercial featuring actress Zoe Kravitz shows the actress whispering into microphones and tapping on a bottle in an overtly ASMR-style video for Michelob Ultra. Another recent commercial from Dove in 2015 featured popular ASMR stimuli, including plastic crinkling, whispering, and more intimate movements that triggered the ASMR feeling.
Beyond the unmistakable use of ASMR in these commercials, many other advertisements in recent years have used ASMR as part of their advertising strategy. Specifically in 2016 through recent times, advertisements have used audio and visual elements of ASMR stimuli to capture the personal attention of viewers. IKEA, Pepsi, McDonald’s, H&R Block, Ford, and many other widely recognized companies are using ASMR in their commercials through various sounds and scenes to captivate audiences in a more unique way.
As we are generally used to more broad, upbeat commercials that feature loud background music and obvious selling tactics, ASMR-focused commercials are a noticeable change. The intimate, rather gentle sounds and scenarios take viewers almost by surprise, and bring them in with the enticing stimuli that triggers the tingling sensation. Even for those who do not experience ASMR, these commercials stick out as a more covert tactic to reach consumers.
Though not widely recognized until recent times, ASMR-like content has been incorporated into advertisements for decades. In 1996, Pringles commercials featured the popping sound made by the container, stimulating the ASMR tingling sensation. Other commercials that include ASMR stimulant-adjacent sounds, like the breaking of a KitKat bar, use ASMR inspired content to reach viewers.