The sound of advertising

When we talk about sound in advertising, it is usually associated with and thought to be about music. The kind of music, no doubt, plays a big role in shaping our perceptions and guide us towards feeling a particular emotion.

If you look past music and look at sound at the very basic, that can also be used in powerful ways to trigger specific emotions and feelings in advertising. Music is sound confined to a shape by our imagination, but raw sound is just that – unshaped and from what we hear naturally or simply around us.

And while all ads spend a lot of time and effort in getting these sounds right, and to offer cues for guiding our reactions, the effort is in the background without calling for attention – like good cinematography in films.

But how would it be when ad campaigns use sounds in a way that they call for attention explicitly?

Two recent advertising campaigns use sound in wonderful ways to evoke feelings in the audiences.

The first is a campaign by Audi France, made by the agency Romance.

To let people ‘experience’ the Audi e-tron Sportback, while using conventional visuals-led and video-led cues, a third option was to use sound explicitly, calling it out as an auditory-experience (pun unintended)!

So the agency recorded, in high-fidelity binaural sound, more than a hundred objects and instances that generate sound, like the car’s door opening, trunk closing, indicators, flashing lights, feel of the leather, seat belt clicking, and so on!

Here’s a snapshot that they shared online, with video.
(watch it on full-screen mode with your headphones on)

Audi France has shared an audio-only playlist of the sounds they recorded on Spotify!

The second instance is even more extensive and interesting. Tourism Australia released a series of immersive videos aimed at the international market to ensure that people remember the country as a vacation spot once the pandemic is over. The usual technique in such efforts is to focus exclusively on the visuals – the more sweeping and sprawling the better.

But, with the help of 2 agencies, Connecting Plots, and Infinity Squared, Tourism Australia lavished focus on the sound aspects far more than the visuals. So they used something called 8D audio, which creates an effect of hearing the sounds in a 360-degree space… an illusion of hearing sounds from all around!

It’s a great idea to frame the videos as a sound-first effort because we then focus our attention more on the sounds and less on the visuals (which usually overwhelm our senses even though the sounds may be impressive).

When Tourism Australia says that these are viewed best with headphones, they truly mean and deliver on that! There are 7 videos in the playlist and the best way to ‘view’ them is on full-screen mode (either on the mobile or on the desktop) with your headphones on for the incredibly produced sound.

To exploit the power of sound and to allow it to affect our perceptions, brands, and agencies may need to think sound-first, lavishing more attention on what kinds of sounds are recorded, how they are recorded, how they are produced technically, and finally highlighting them as the main reason for viewers to indulge in the final outcome. These 2 campaigns get that idea perfectly right.