ASMR: Why Folks Reacted to the Michelob “Whisper” Ad


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website

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48 Responses

  1. It’s the aural equivalent of cilantro.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David says:

    My wife loved ASMR, for a bit. She has now moved on to audiobooks, which, in my opinion, are just as silly.

    It might also have been due to my fairly merciless mocking of it. Being married is great!Report

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    At this point, “science” doesn’t really say it works at all.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    As someone who gets the ASMR tingles, I found the ad to be vaguely weird.

    Like, “I know what this is, but no one else in the room knows what it is, and if I explain it, it’ll sound like I’m explaining a fetish.”

    But if there are a number of people out there who never knew until the Superbowl what the tingles were… well, I hope they were watching alone at home instead of in a bar where they couldn’t hear a dang thing or with a group where everybody else in the room would have been yelling about how annoying the commercial was.Report

  5. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    If by tingle you mean irritated, then I was tingled all right.Report

  6. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    I thought it was sexy and annoying at the same time… I was… conflicted.

    Though, hats off to the marketing genius of promoting Beer with an add using a technique that “provides temporary relief for those suffering from depression and chronic pain, … [and] stress

    On the subject of Beer and ads… is anyone else nerdy enough to notice that Budweiser was slagging on its competitors for using Corn Syrup while *explicitly* calling out that its main ingredient is Rice? I’m trying to think of something worse to say than “We use Rice to make our beer” but nothing is worse…Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      “We put barley and hops in our sake”Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      I remember signs in bars from Miller’s casting shade about Bud putting rice in its beer, in the sense that it was less natural or American. But I think Busch and other InBev team beers use corn adjuncts (like Bass Pale Ale and Stella), so there seems like a lot of friendly fire potential in this approach.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw says:

        I found this page with numerous advertisements from Budweiser distinguishing its product as using rice (expensive ingredient to lighten the beer) as opposed to corn or corn grits (cheap and oily). Some ads mention that they use Southern rice. These ads date back to the 1890s and the page suggests the great majority of American beers at the turn of the century used corn or rice.

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          That was a cool collection of stuff… however I note that the article from 1891 quoting August Busch directly says, after discounting the use of corn, “The secret of the success of our beer is due to the fact that we nothing but the finest malt and the choicest hops and allow the beer to thoroughly mature before it enters into consumption…

          Though to be sure, at some point they really embraced the use of Rice as a differentiator of some sort. So yeah, the recent commercial was “traditional” in its own way.Report

          • Avatar PD Shaw says:

            Some research from Beer Advocate threads suggest that rice was introduced as an adjunct, either in Northern Germany or the United States (by German immigrants) in the 1870s. It seems like Germans were first researching the technical issues, but the practice became widespread in the U.S. as brewers dealt with the problem that American Barley (6-row) is higher in protein than (2-row) German barley. Budweiser (1876) initially had 8 pounds of rice to 5 bushels (240 pounds) of barley.

            I’m guessing Busch was often trying to have it both ways, differentiate the product from those with corn adjuncts in some circumstances, but in others he doesn’t want to highlight the use of adjuncts to traditionalists.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine says:

              Yeah, I think that’s a reasonable read. There seems to be considerable ambiguity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries… then a shift to competitive differentiator by the mid-20th century… then it falls away again. Interesting case study for the History of Competitive Marketing discipline.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      Beer ads: I rarely drink beer nowadays, due to the carbs. On those occasions that I do drink beer, I’m not going with some crappy mass market swill, and some fancy marketing technique that uses Science! isn’t going to change this. Also, I virtually never watch broadcast television. I get that fix through streaming videos. So I’m not exposed to TV commercials much. On those rare occasions when I do watch broadcast television, I find the commercials make it an unpleasant experience. My Netflix subscription is money I am happy to pay to avoid this.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        Ironically, the commercial itself was much better than any of the beers named.

        I also noticed that it seemed they broke (for the first time??) some unspoken rule that you never actually name your competitor or their flaw directly. And then they doubled down by having the competitor proxy re-state their weakness in their own voice.

        If it is a new commercial taboo broken, I want to go on record blaming Trump.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          They also did a thing where they ended a series of commercials by killing the people who were in the commercial’s fictional world.

          I remember the “Time to make the donuts” guy from Dunkin Donuts retiring…

          Wait, have people, like, been killed in commercials before?


          • Avatar Marchmaine says:

            Dos Equis launched the old man into space so they could introduce the boring inferior and completely uninteresting young man.

            We can, I suppose, cling to the idea that the old man is doing fabulously on what will undoubtedly be another un-toppable adventure to add to his list of stories.

            Or he’s dead in an aluminum composite tube.Report

            • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

              They got rid of The Most Interesting Man? I loved those commercials. And Dos Equis is better than most mass market beer. I am willing to drink it, if I want a beer and actual Good Beer is unavailable.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Got rid of? I suppose we’ll hear from him on Mars… maybe?


                I’m wondering if the change was motivated by a desire to try to get younger… realizing the success of the old guy was maybe tagging them in a way they didn’t want? Or, maybe they were afraid that the success was giving the old guy too much negotiating leverage and they were afraid of tying up the $$ and the brand? Or, maybe its a modern strategy of multi-threaded branding… ala Geico? Maybe all of the above?

                The only thing that makes me pause and consider the transition a failure (unlike, say, Geico) is that they tried to follow the format with just a younger guy… which obviously tanked, and then they abandoned him. So, there’s some sort of story there for Marketing historians of the future.Report

              • Avatar Sarah says:

                Yes, Bud tried to get rid of the Clydesdales too, until people objected. Now they sort of brought them back in a minimal role that looks like the commercials were created by someone who’s never met a horse in real life, doesn’t like horses, and depends mostly on CGI.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

          Ironically, the commercial itself was much better than any of the beers named.

          This is not uncommon. Mass marketed beer is, to varying degrees, Bad Beer, but the marketing budgets are not to be scoffed at. The commercials often are excellent.Report

  7. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I loathe the whispering, like nails on a chalkboard. Actually, most of those little sounds are annoying at best.

    Give me the patter of rain, wind through the trees, or the crashing surf.Report

    • I agree, and I frequently use natural ambiance of rain or some such as background noise. But those sounds I find grating.Report

    • Avatar Em's Ghost says:

      Exactly. Nature sounds I love….hot foul air passing over someone’s vocal cords while they tap the bottle like the annoying kid next to you back in school who always used to tap their desk or pencil like a meth-head…..that just makes me angry. Months later, the commercial is still so over-saturated I am now avoiding many of my favorite channels because the noise is so annoying it ruins any enjoyment of TV, or even getting to sleep. In fact, if I can find out for sure whether satellite has a different commercial package, and I will hear the commercial less, I will switch providers.Report

  8. Avatar Em Carpenter says:

    The whispering is bad, but it’s the weird, sticky mouth sounds that make my skin crawl, and not in a pleasant way.Report

  9. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    OK, I just watched the Michelob Ultra commercial. Spoiler: I feel not the least urge to go out and buy Bad Beer. Had I see this commercial in the wild, I would have taken it to be a peculiar variant on the perennial “buy this product and a hot babe will fuck you” evergreen. Seeing it in context, I take it to be “buy this product and a hot babe will fuck you” with a dollop of Science!Report

  10. Avatar Ally says:

    I absolutely hate asmrs pls take it downReport

  11. Avatar Rebecca says:

    Very annoying. I mute it every time it comes onReport

  12. Avatar Rp says:

    Most horrible beer commercial ever,annoying from beginning to endReport

  13. Avatar Laurie says:

    Terrible commercial! It’s like a local car dealership putting their kid in the commercial to sell me a car. I would not ask for a child’s advice on automobiles and I’m not likely to follow up on Zoe’s suggestion sitting in a field whispering or otherwise.Report

  14. Avatar William Holmes says:

    I hate the ad. It’s like nails on a chalk board followed by hot oil being dripped in my ear. I can’t take it and nothing has caused me to have a more negative response to Michelob and all Bud products.Report

  15. Avatar AP says:

    Id rather listen to nails on a chalk board. It’s weird and not at all sensual or sexy, as I’m sure they intended. She just looks weird AF. Worst commercial we’ve had to watch in the last decade. Not exaggerating… awfulReport

  16. Avatar Kris says:

    I cannot stand it.. it hits some chord with me that no other commercial or past memory compares… I despise it and no idea why.. I have never wanted to share a comment about a commercial but I had to in hopes they take it off the air…
    The only similar feeling are fingernails screeching on a school board..

  17. Avatar patty B says:

    worst, most annoying commercial ever. can barely understand wtf she is saying.
    I wouldn’t buy that beer simply because of that commercialReport

  18. Avatar AJ says:

    Hate it. Seems disingenuous, trying to legitimize make a horrible compromise through absurd whispering.Report

  19. Avatar Steveareno says:

    No science needed – you’re welcome.Report

  20. Avatar Bud says:

    Hate it passionatlyReport

  21. Avatar Tom says:

    Asmr makes my ears hurt and eventually gives me a headache. I can’t stand it.Report

  22. Avatar Janice says:

    I change channels, whenever this stupid commercial comes on. I will be so glad, when it goes away.Report