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

ASMR

If you had a reaction to that Michelob Ultra commercial where Zoe Kravitz goes soundlab with tapping, whispers, and pouring a beer, there is a reason for that: it was designed that way.

ASMR, or “autonomous sensory meridian response,” has been around for close to a decade, but finally made its way into the mainstream with a Michelob Ultra commercial during the Super Bowl Sunday night. The ad featured actress Zoe Kravitz whispering softly into a microphone, tapping her nails against the bottle, all to get us to buy some beer.

It’s a big trend right now, and there are countless videos on YouTube of people whispering directly into microphones and tapping their fingers on things to try and stimulate an ASMR response for viewers.

ASMR was first coined in 2010 and has since gathered thousands of faithful followers online. Content creators on YouTube, for example, upload hours-long videos of them stroking the camera’s lens with makeup brushes, drawing with crayons, drumming their fingers against leather and creating other similar tingly sounds that users claim help them sleep and calm down.

Everyone’s triggers are different: some may ooze with satisfaction at the sound of a page turning, others from a laugh — and others may not experience ASMR at all.

But some academics say it’s not just the satisfaction of this brain massage that makes the experience so special. It may actually be good for something. A UK study says participants reported ASMR provided temporary relief for those suffering from depression and chronic pain, while others said it helped them deal with stress.

So yes, a lot of people find ASMR relaxing. Others find it horrifying. Or at the very least it freaks them out, like the Michelob Ultra ad featuring Kravitz did

In my household, it was found to be annoying, mockable, and just plain bizarre. But science says it works differently for different folks, so YMMV. So, what say you?

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

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

  1. 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!

      Quote  Link

    Report

  2. 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.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  3. 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…

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • 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.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • 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.

        https://sites.google.com/site/jesskiddenparttwo/home/rice-in-budweiser

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • 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.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • 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.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • 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.

                Quote  Link

              Report

    • 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.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • 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.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • 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?

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • 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.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • 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.

                Quote  Link

              Report

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

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P07OCiOo7U

                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.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

        • 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.

            Quote  Link

          Report

  4. 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.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  5. 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!

      Quote  Link

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *