The print ads you can hear

The print ads you can hear

Jun 04, 2019

Marketing trends may come and go… but audio branding continues to endure as a powerful technique for brands across the world. Today, many businesses are turning their attention to the way they sound, as a way of encouraging a sensory response in consumers. But as Coca-Cola has proven, a branded sound doesn’t just have to be limited to the world of audio.

The ever-growing popularity of ASMR has proven that listeners across the world continue to be receptive to sound as a sense. ASMR stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response”, and is the tingling sensation that extends over the scalp and body when a specific sound is heard. It’s so popular, there are over 5.2 million videos of this type on YouTube. What may have begun as a gimmick or fad has now caught the attention of many global brands, who’ve recognised that it has the potential to help them reach a huge audience. In fact, at this year’s Superbowl, Michelob Ultra enlisted the help of Zoe Kravitz in a 45-second ad slot about its organic brew, Pure Gold. In the ad, Kravitz whispers closely into the microphone and slowly taps her fingernails on the glass bottle, bringing together organic sounds to complement the organic drink. And other brands have cashed in and done the same – including Applebee’s hour long video of meat being sizzled on a grill, Ikea’s ‘Oddly Ikea’ series, featuring someone very quietly organising their closet, and KFC, where individuals eat their crunchy fried chicken closely on camera.


Videos of repetitive oral sounds and tapping on metallic surfaces may be growing in popularity, but it doesn’t create a universal response. That’s why Coca-Cola has taken the trend one step further by bringing those tingly sensations of sound to print. Their new European campaign “The First Print Ads You Can Hear” attempts to prove that sometimes even a still image can conjure a sound in your mind. The series includes close up images of their drink in a glass, an opener prying the cap off a Coke bottle, and a finger lifting the tab off a can – all accompanied by the copy ‘try not to hear this’. Camilla Zanaria, Coca-Cola’s Content Lead said “with the campaign, we were aiming to activate that sensorial memory from our consumers, challenging them to hear an image for the first time, finishing our ad in their heads.” And the way they do this is by cleverly leveraging the concept of synesthesia, an auditory illusion created by the crossing of two senses in the brain. Coca-Cola relies on the connection it’s built with consumers across its 126 year history, in which the visuals and sounds of their brand has become so iconic, that these ads could easily fit into any culture and still illicit the same response.



From these campaigns alone, it’s clear that sound is one of the most powerful ways of encouraging an emotional response in consumers. In the case of Coca-Cola, the memory of a sound alone is enough to keep those same feelings returning even when the actual noise is absent – and that’s all because the previous exposure consumers have had to these sounds has been so powerful. It’s allowed a connection to be established between brand and consumer, that’s bound to stand the test of time.

At PHMG, our unique Brand-Sound-Tracks are designed to encourage the same memorable response in a customer, and when they’re heard repeatedly at multiple touchpoints, the sound becomes completely synonymous with the brand.