Online, there's a whole strange category of videos of people whispering, tapping their fingers, scratching things, turning pages, crinkling paper or even making wet sounds with their mouth. For some people, hearing these sounds sends them into a tingly, relaxed state of pleasure.
The little-understood phenomenon has been dubbed Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR. A YouTube search turns up 2.4 million videos related to the ASMR subculture. (Back in the pre-YouTube era, "Joy of Painting" host Bob Ross used to send some PBS viewers into ecstasy by whispering and gently scraping paint off his canvases.)
Marketers until now have apparently failed to target the globe's legions of ASMR-experiencers, but BBDO Beijing has rectified that with two videos for Mars brand Dove chocolate. One video shows a woman crinkling a Dove chocolate wrapper, unwrapping it and popping a piece into her mouth, complete with the rustling and chewing sounds to match. "The feeling of chocolate slowly melting on my tongue," she murmurs. The second film shows a man grinding cacao beans to make chocolate and includes lines such as "the more I grind, the silkier it gets."
Dove ads in China have typically used brown silk as a visual cue in ads to show how silky the product is. To modernize that message, the brand tried to make two videos that would trigger ASMR, which it describes as "a physical sensation characterized by a pleasurable tingling that typically begins in the head and scape, and often moves down the spine and through the limbs."
"That pleasure could be analogous to the tingling of silky smooth pleasure experienced by consumers whilst eating Dove chocolate," BBDO said in a release. MediaCom and @PR also worked on the campaign, and Chinese science platform Guokr partnered on it. BBDO says the two films were put to scientific testing, and that neuroscientists are studying the results.
So do you experience ASMR? Put on some headphones and watch to find out.