Immersive advertising: travelling through sound

Aug 17, 2020

No other medium allows us to escape to another time or place in the same way as audio. That’s what makes it such an engaging form of marketing. In fact, statistics show that audio ads are significantly more effective than their visual counterparts when it comes to streaming services like Spotify – so while we’re experiencing a different kind of summer, brands are using the immersive effects of sound to break down boundaries and take their customers on a journey.

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Travelling through sound:

Audible gave the ‘staycation’ a new meaning in their latest campaign. ‘Fly Audible’ turns the concept of travel on its head by taking the audience on a journey across fictitious and factual worlds from the depths of their armchair. Scripted in the style of a 70s captain’s announcement, Audible gets listeners thinking about the adventures that can be found in the famous literary destinations of our favourite books – all you have to do is close your eyes and listen.

Story-driven ads like these are so effective because they transform what’s usually seen as a means to an end into an opportunity for escapism. This is especially true for audio adverts, because customers are given the freedom to think up an image that’s often more powerful than the one they’d be presented with.

An industry listening in:

As an industry built on escapism, the tourism sector often uses immersive marketing techniques like these to attract holidaymakers, but while travel is at an all-time low and many of us are spending  more time indoors, brands are being forced to get creative with their go-to strategies – and sound has played an increasingly important role in more recent campaigns.

Finland Tourism tapped into the disconnect people are feeling by rebooting a virtual version of the ‘
Rent a Finn’ campaign debuted last year. Named ‘happiest country in the world’ for the third year running, the Finnish know a thing or two about keeping spirits high, and they shared their secrets via livestream and one-on-one sessions to export some love worldwide.

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The main message was to remind everyone that the natural beauty of Finland will be waiting for us when travel resumes, and it was delivered to a backing track of ASMR-like sounds: the trickling of a stream, birds singing, and the rustling of a tree being planted into the soil. As well as transporting us to the open spaces of Finland, sounds from the natural world are scientifically proven to have a restorative effect on our psyche, and so this ad cleverly achieves what it sets out to in just 90 seconds; it leaves us feeling a little more mentally nourished, and a lot more enthusiastic about Finland.

The themes of sound and nature also take centre stage in Tourism Iceland’s light-hearted ‘Let It Out’ campaign. Their spot follows the story of several relatable characters getting increasingly frustrated by their current situation. We watch them become overwhelmed by the mundane news cycle, exhausted from a routine with restless children, and enraged by more humorous experiences like bad haircuts and missing puzzle pieces – before letting out a big scream and being transported to the natural beauty of Iceland. The perfect place to let it all out.

The stark contrast between cramped households and the vastness of Iceland isn’t just visually cathartic. Releasing your frustrations as loudly as possible into the wilderness is sold as the ultimate therapy, and those unable to travel were also give the opportunity to send their screams into the wide, natural spaces via voice recording.

As other industries navigate this new marketing landscape, it’s likely we’ll see many more immersive campaigns built around audio – especially on platforms where visual or face-to-face communication isn’t possible. Whether it’s over the phone or through a smart speaker, a brand’s sound will be a fundamental way to engage audiences and make the best first impression.