ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It has to do with certain triggers, usually having to do with sound or sight, giving you “tingles in your brain”. It may seem like a strange reaction to have while hearing unintelligible whispers, someone using a marker on a pad of paper or seeing someone use a makeup brush to caress your “face” (when the face is the camera). But it’s very real!
And interestingly, music in this particular context, seems to take away from the experience, rather than add to it. In Duncan Geere’s article about this phenomenon in Science Focus: https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/asmr-more-than-a-feeling/ – one of the scientists he questions has this to say:
“We’re interested in things like whether particular settings might be helpful, or particular object interactions,” explains Davis.
“[The results] were actually a bit of a mix. But the one thing that was really clear and surprising is that people didn’t like background music. That to me is really odd, because we use music all of the time to enhance a mood that you’re trying to experience. That doesn’t seem to work for ASMR. It seems to distract from the sound of an object being interacted with.”
Huh. So the two types of sound, don’t seem to go together. Our brains are strange.
In my own deep dive into this topic however, I actually did experience these “brain tingles”. I first heard about ASMR when IKEA used it in one of their commercials. It’s included below.
When I first saw and heard this video, I have to admit, it kind of creeped me out. I didn’t understand why the woman’s voice was so whispery-soft, and I truly didn’t understand what the attraction was to all those sounds of sheets being stroked, pillows being squished and desk lamps being tapped with fingernails. I didn’t get it. And at the time, I didn’t particular want to explore what it was all about.
In my research into sound and the science of sound, ASMR kept coming up – again and again. And now that I’ve experienced what it actually IS, I’m impressed by what they put together. (And if you watch the video, read the comments below. They’re hilarious!) While I didn’t mind the voice they used, she was a bit louder than I was expecting for this particular genre. Of course, I get that she had to talk above a whisper so that she could be understood. She was, after all, there to sell a product. And that meant you had to hear what she was saying.
I’m not sure it works as true ASMR as a result, because you have to concentrate too much for it to really be as relaxing as it should be. But as an example of how this could be used for a different kind of advertising experience, it’s not half bad. If you get it. Seeing as they’re trying to appeal to college students, I don’t think that’s a bad bet.
I’ll also point out that the pops and crackles of lips smacks and tongue movements from a voice being that close to a mic, would be a nightmare for most voice over. But for ASMR? The intimacy of it is supposed to be relaxing. That’s the point.
One of the best “performers” of this that I’ve seen while going down the rabbit hole of YouTube, is Gibi. I’ll link to one of her videos in my blog & show notes so you can have a look and a listen. But I’ll admit, I’ve subscribed to her channel. In this video (the link is below), she collaborates with a couple of other performers so you get a good overview of a bunch of potential triggers from different performers with slightly different styles:
For those of you that have been following my blog here, you know I’m a gamer. Gibi even did a video where she interacted (the video was about wood tapping and scratching) with a product from Wyrmwood! (They were a sponsor for this video. And she promoted them perfectly for her audience.)
And if you’d like to know more about this from Gibi herself (and, coincidentally, actually hear her real speaking voice – which I admit, I was curious about), have a look at the video I’ve linked to from a YouTube channel called Rooster Teeth. They had her on the show as a guest and asked her a bunch of questions that she very intelligently answered.
It’s a very interesting conversation, on a whole bunch of levels, and I highly recommend you watch it.
Ultimately, you have to decide if this works for you. If not, it might make you very uncomfortable. If it does work for you, watching these videos might well be the most relaxed you feel all day. You’re welcome.