Make your ads sound clever: Why sound branding matters

The way sounds are used can have a profound impact on consumers’ response to brands, with recent research revealing the extent and depth of the effect they can have.

If you need proof that sound profoundly affects a branding experience, look up Tupperware’s mandoline ads on YouTube.

One of the versions on its US and Canada channel is set to crashing electronic music and is unwatchable. Another, under the name Mandochef on its Asian channel, uses exactly the same visuals but is set to gentler music composed for the ad, with satisfying sound effects (below). The latter has more than 10 times the viewers of the US version.

Sound branding is not a new concept but the results of recent research and the rise of voice as a platform are pushing brands to use it at a new level. It is thanks to this research that the reason the mellower version of the Tupperware ad is more satisfying to watch can be identified.

“Our brains love it when what we see and hear are aligned. Conversely, our brains find it distracting and upsetting when it’s out of sync,” Heather Andrew, chief executive of neuro-research company Neuro-Insight, explains.

Two years ago, Thinkbox commissioned Neuro-Insight to explore links between TV advertising creative and memory. One of the findings from this analysis, which involved mapping the brain responses to more than 200 TV ads, was that when music and visuals synced up well, the brain generated a 14% higher memory-encoding response.

“John Lewis ads do this particularly well; they often re-record tracks to better suit the visuals,” Andrew adds.

Neuro-Insight also found that the brain prefers it when music’s emotional resonance matched that of the ad’s story and visuals. When the researchers replaced the track for Budweiser’s 2018 Super Bowl commercial “Stand by you” (a soft and slow cover of Stand by Me by Skylar Grey) with the original more upbeat Ben E King version, the results were dramatic.

“We found a dramatic difference in the brain responses to the two different ads—the brain was struggling to connect the Ben E King version with the visual storyline it was seeing,” Andrew says.

But beyond making the brain happy to stimulate memory, what if brands could use music or sound to alter brainwaves, inducing a desired state? Sound branding agency Soundscape and hotel chain CitizenM are in the process of testing this theory.

“There is neuroscience research that suggests by mimicking a brain’s oscillations, you could trigger certain states, such as sleeping or focus. It’s a form of hypnotherapy if it works,” Ollie Humphries, founder of Soundscape, explains.

Working with artists and neuroscientists, Soundscape has composed music tracks for CitizenM aimed at solving three traveller problems: jetlag, focus and the fear of flying.

“Neuroscientists are testing out how our tracks perform against general music you find on Spotify labelled ‘sleep’ or ‘focus’. If it works, we’ll distribute it through the hotels and on Spotify,” Humphries says.


Ikea’s ‘braingasm’
Tapping into a phenomenon known as autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), Ikea sought to make a group of people very happy with a 25-minute commercial designed to trigger what ASMR-philes call “braingasms”.

Visa sounds out mobile

Visa found that 81% of shoppers felt safer and more secure with mobile transactions if it used sound and animation, so that’s what it did. Visa created a branded animation, sound and haptic feedback for mobiles aimed at giving customers a feeling of satisfaction.

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Nissan’s ‘singing’ cars
Nissan commissioned Man Made Sound to produce a proprietary sound for its fleet of otherwise silent electric cars. The end result – “Canto”, which means “I sing” in Italian – has a musical element and conveys a sense of the cars accelerating.

Source:; 20 Aug 2018

Alibaba develops AI tool capable of writing 20,000 lines of ad copy per second

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has developed an AI tool (artificial intelligence) capable of producing 20,000 lines of content per second.

Created as part of Alibaba’s digital marketing unit Alimama, the tool aims to reduce the heavy and arduous workload of producing copy for product listings by retailers, working by scraping “millions” of existing human writing samples from the company’s e-commerce platforms which it interprets using deep-learning models and natural language processing (NLP) technologies.

According to Alibaba, the AI tool has passed the Turing Test where a machine is analysed for its ability to imitate a human without detection and is already being used “millions of times a day” by retailers on its properties including Tmall,, and Taobao.

Global fashion brands Esprit and Dickies are two such retailers already using the tool, which can be accessed by selecting an option to ‘Produce Smart Copy’, allowing them to choose from samples of varying tones including “promotional, functional, fun, poetic, or heart-warming”.

Concern for copywriters?

While the release of Alibaba’s AI tool will be welcome news for retailers, it may result in some sweaty palms among copywriters. However, the company has emphasised its stance that the product has been designed to complement, rather than replace, the work done by human marketers.

“For merchants, from today onwards, AI can take care of a portion of their copywriting needs. And it significantly changes the way [copywriters] work: They will shift from thinking up copy – one line at a time – to choosing the best out of many machine-generated options, largely improving efficiency,” read a statement by Alimama.

Meanwhile, the group’s general manager, Christina Lu, added; “AI systems will never be able to replace human creativity – but can enable people to focus their major energies towards richly-creative work, and the machines can take over the repetitive, low-value work involved in writing.”

Despite the assurances, however, Alibaba’s announcement forms part of a wider, if slightly alarming trend. In May this year, Google published research of a new algorithm that would be able to generate original and “coherent” articles based on content from multiple web pages to answer a specific question for a user, without the need to direct them to another site.

Meanwhile, news agency Reuters has taken a “gamble” on its very industry in building Lynx Insight, an AI tool geared at helping journalists interpret data, suggest ideas for stories, and in some cases, even write sentences.

Source:; 9 July 2018

Creativity in Constraint: Unlock New Forms of Storytelling With 6-Second YouTube Bumper Ads

As part of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, YouTube challenged agency creatives and filmmakers to tell a video story in just six seconds. The request proved an amazing catalyst for innovative storytelling. Tyranny of the blank page? You’ve just met your video match.

It probably took you around six seconds to read that intro paragraph. Think it’s possible to tell a compelling video story in that time?

“Challenge accepted,” said the agency creatives and filmmakers featured below. They responded not with long-form cutdowns or even six-second distillations of 15-second stories. Instead, they crafted films specifically to fit the :06 format—a format that YouTube recently began offering advertisers to help them capture attention in today’s mobile world.

Take a look at these remarkable pieces, and learn how their makers approached filming, editing, and weaving an impactful story in six seconds.

‘Think of your story like a joke’

“The biggest surprise was honestly the fact that six seconds really is enough time to get a big message across. When I was writing, it was hard to keep the narrative small enough when I was thinking in words, but once I divided the time into images, it felt like there really was enough time to say something bigger.

Think of your story like a joke. Distill it down to the punchline and then figure out how to build that with whatever tools you have at your disposal.” —Maud Deitch, Creative, Mother NY

“The High Diver” from Mother NY

‘One word, one image, one second is enough for someone to be drawn in’

“We originally thought the time constraint would be a hindrance to tell an emotional story. But we quickly learned that you don’t need to tell an entire story in the traditional sense to evoke emotion.

One word, one image, one second is enough for someone to be drawn in. The story we chose to tell, of a little girl blowing out her birthday candles, can spark a myriad of thoughts and emotions, leaving the viewer with a desire to watch more. That’s the beauty of storytelling.” —Mia Kuhn, Producer, TBWA/Chiat/Day

“Breath” from TBWA/Chiat/Day

‘The core of every good story is change’

“Restrictions are important to creativity. Hurdles give us direction on where to go and what to jump over.

The core of every good story is change—a square becomes a circle; a character learns about herself; a landscape shifts. Six seconds is a limited time frame to show that transformation, so I knew I had to pinpoint the exact moment that everything changes.” —Tony Xie, Associate Broadcast Producer, Droga5

“Modern Love” from Droga5

‘Our brains aren’t really constrained by time’

“I was surprised by the efficiency and power of images, and the elasticity of the brain. It’s only six seconds. 180 frames. But watching the film, our brains aren’t really constrained by time. The images feel much longer to me in my memory.

If anything, I was surprised to learn that a six-second film felt longer to me than many 30-second films I’ve made.” —Topher Cochrane, Senior Producer, Leo Burnett

“Tattoo” from Leo Burnett

‘Keep everything simple’

“The time limitation forces you to find creative ways to establish the who, what, and where very quickly. Keep everything simple: the idea, the narrative, the visuals. You can say a lot if every element is working together.” —Lawrence Chen, Director, BBDO; Daniel Adrain, Creative Director, BBDO

“Time Travel” from BBDO

‘Start with something relatable’

“Like with all storytelling, I wanted to start with something relatable. That’s always important, but here, especially so. There’s no time with six seconds, so when your audience can relate, they’ll project their own experience into the piece—filling in the blanks and giving you freedom to move more quickly through your narrative.” —Alexander Engel, Filmmaker

“Deliverance” from director Alexander Engel

‘Build curiosity’

“For this short format, I thought about ways to quickly seduce my viewer and build curiosity, but then leave them with the lasting message and metaphor that I was imparting. The work should be layered, but not overly laboured, so that it presents itself with ease.” —Lake Buckley, Filmmaker

“Loveletter” from director Lake Buckley

Plan for six seconds—and create something amazing

All that creativity, all those emotions, all those stories you just watched fit into 42 total seconds. The creatives and filmmakers here emphasized simplicity, strong visual elements, fundamentals of good storytelling, and leaving some things up to the viewers’ imagination. So start with an image, a punchline, a feeling—and create something amazing.

Source: www.thinkwithgoogle, Jan 2017