ASMR - autonomous sensory meridian response – is one of the most nerve-jangling trends of the past year. The audio-induced experiences send static shivers across the skin and following a boom on YouTube, brands have been getting in on the action. Whether you can’t get enough of the goosebump-inducing soundscapes or the whole thing leaves you feeling deeply creeped out, there’s no denying the visceral impact of ASMR.
Ogilvy Poland decided to put sound to work for a much-loved local confectionary brand, LOTTE Wedel. They got deep and crunchy with the chocolate making process, recording every crack, snap and glug to create an experience as physically intense as the act of eating dark chocolate.
Unusually, therefore, it was a project that was produced from a sound design-first approach. Ogilvy collaborated with CORD Warsaw to create the mix and the director, Patryk Kizny of Film Fiction, had to sync visuals to audio… rather than the other way round.
LBB’s Laura Swinton spoke to Ogilvy Poland ECD Maciej Twardowski and CORD Warsaw’s head of music, executive music producer Michał Krajewski.
LBB> What was the original brief from the client - what were they trying to achieve?
Maciej Twardowski> It was the launch of a new line of a fantastic legendary product – Wedel’s Dark Chocolate. The new product package was more premium, the challenge was to find a new interesting language of communication. To stand out from the standard. Seems like an everyday job, doesn't it?
LBB> And can you tell me about the position of this chocolate brand in the Polish market?
Maciej Twardowski> Well, it is quite strong. Wedel is a Polish 168-year-old brand that produces chocolate. It all started as a small family confectionary company in 1851. Emil Wedel provided his signature for every chocolate bar produced at Wedel in 1874. This signature was established as a logotype of the brand. It is in use now. Wedel produces many types of chocolate and candy. Some of their products have been in production for decades. One of them – the Dark Chocolate – is legendary and classic.
LBB> From a strategic point of view, what were the insights that you were working off?
Maciej Twardowski> Chocolate is a very sensual product, but in advertising it used to be addressed to only one sense – sight. We decided to change the game and advertise chocolate using another sense – hearing. The reason for this approach was logical. The sound of breaking Wedel’s Dark Chocolate is crunchy and much different from the sounds that other chocolate makes. It’s because the process of making it is unique (the only oil used in its production is cocoa oil).
LBB> And at what point did ASMR come up?
Maciej Twardowski> To be honest, the idea for using ASMR didn’t come strictly from the music agency or any composer. This was a result of a process during the creative brief creation. The strategy department researched the fastest-growing online trends and the strategy director identified that ASMR is a phenomenon recently booming online. A lot of people create content that tries to trigger this effect. I guess it will be a new communication tool for brands in the years to come.
LBB> What sort of research did you do around ASMR and how did you find immersing yourself in that world?
Maciej Twardowski> Based on the feature of the unique sound of Wedel’s Dark Chocolate and multiple ASMR videos watched on the web, we knew we had to record all the sounds of the production process. All the sounds needed to be recorded extremely closely and precisely. We knew it would enable us to bring a kind of ASMR effect which would be mesmerising for the viewers while listening.
During the production we used the sound of chocolate, which we recorded to compose a musical piece. When the music was ready, all of the sounds were combined with abstract set design, showing every part of the process of chocolate making. That’s how this unique content was made – a chocolate campaign based on the sounds that give an unexpected experience in the confectionery category.
Michał Krajewski> We needed to record high-pitched tones (such as cutting the cocoa mass, the knife touching the cutting board), as well as mid-pitched ones (pouring cocoa beans, cracking the chocolate) and low-pitched sounds (whipping the powder which is similar to the kick drum). Thanks to the sound diversity, we achieved the percussive tools to create a complete song in terms of composition as well as sound design.
LBB> Why do you think ASMR has become as popular as it has?
Maciej Twardowski> Because it’s a simple way to record something that will give other people an unforgettable experience. And as we all know people love online experience. In this case it’s not an emotional experience but a more physical one, related to the body reaction.
Michał Krajewski> An interesting physical and psychological human reaction has always been interesting for communication creators. Between stereoscopy (3-D) films and human behaviour in shopping malls, natural reactions of people had very often proved the strategic and creative assumptions. We were thrilled to join this project that leveraged sound to the maximum! Wedel has decided to use ASMR inspirations because of the emotion it evokes, how pleasant and mesmerising it could be and because of its slight intimacy. This attracts brands because it causes this actual feeling of pleasure and creates positive physical connotations with a product or a brand while you are being pampered. This is something everyone likes
LBB> From a production perspective what were the main challenges?
Michał Krajewski> Projects with such a brief don't come very often – this is only one of a few which have been 100% audio-led and where the director was working on depicting the sound. Usually you would sync the sound against the visuals because it is easier, and takes less effort and money - reshooting video or spending hours in the post production house costs an awful lot. Within this project Patryk, the director, had to work around the sound. He had a pre-produced music demo for the tempo reference, but since this was already a prepared composition, he couldn't mess around with it too much - he had to stick to the groove we’d composed.
LBB> Who did you work with to create that audio experience and what did they bring to the project?
Maciej Twardowski> CORD was responsible for the sound level, but they were not the only partner. FILM FICTION was the production company for this whole project. Turning things upside-down but not turning things downside-up. And they did it well.
LBB> How did the project make you think differently about sound as a creative medium?
Maciej Twardowski> I used to be an art director and I never expected that sound could be so powerful!
LBB> How did you push the campaign out and what sort of reach did it have?
Maciej Twardowski> The original plan was to make the social media campaign. But during the process of creation it started to grow and the original plan resized to other media formats. Anyway, audio first – so we focused on the media to which we could bring the sound in its best format. Cinemas were important because of the high level of audio speakers there. Advanced surround 7.1 audio systems were useful to let 214,000 people hear the taste of chocolate in a proper way. In social media we addressed each part of the process of chocolate making. Of course we used Spotify and radio. However, in some of the radio stations it was played not as a commercial but as a piece of music! In one month 15,000,000 people heard the taste of this chocolate.
LBB> What was the impact for the brand and how did the public respond?
Maciej Twardowski> It’s hard to say, but: ‘The most delicious campaign of 2018’ – we read that one day in one of the press headlines. A brand with a long tradition can bring a game-changing piece of communication in its category. A category which has the usual scheme of showing the taste of chocolate. It has built a premium image for Wedel’s Dark Chocolate. Wedel’s competitors also discussed it a lot. Maybe one day they will have the balls to do such a thing.