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What is ASMR Marketing?! And Is It Illegal?

Have you noticed how recently big brands like IKEA, KFC, Dove Chocolate, and McDonald’s have been releasing annoying videos featuring celebrities doing unusual things like whispering into microphones, tapping on glass, scratching paper, or cutting soap? If you have, you’re likely wondering how these brands could possibility be benefiting and bringing in the big bucks from these videos.

Well, what these brands have been cashing in on is the rising popularity of a YouTube sensation called ASMR. In this article, I’m going to be going over how this trend has crossed over into the marketing world, and explaining how big brands have started using it to promote their products and turn a profit.  

What is ASMR?

ASMR is an acronym that stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. ASMR was first introduced in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, who started a Facebook Group dedicated to finding out more of this auditory phenomenon.

Since its introduction, ASMR has become incredibly popular, with some YouTube creators having built successful channels dedicated to these videos with millions of subscribers. Videos can range from showing creators shaking boxes of candy, whispering into microphones, eating crunchy foods, or even simply cutting soap.

Many viewers find watching/listening to ASMR videos to be incredibly fulfilling. The sensation that viewers experience are sometimes described as “brain tingles” or “mind orgasms” while listening to whispering, paper crinkling, tapping, scratching, chewing, etc.

There is no scientific explanation for why some people are so incredibly affect by ASMR while others are not. However, despite the lack of scientific study into this phenomenon, fans consume ASMR content to help promote relaxation, reduce stress, and help with sleep. ASMR has even been used to in the treatment of PTSD, panic disorders, and insomnia.

Big Brands Jump On the ASMR Bandwagon

Creators have had incredible success with ASMR content on YouTube, with many channels becoming profitable. In fact, there are approximately 5.2 million ASMR videos on YouTube, and it is one of the most searched topics on YouTube at the moment.

One example of a successful ASMR creator is Taylor Darling with her channel ASMR Darling, which specializes in ASMR videos that focus on hair and makeup. It currently has 1.9 million subscribers, with her videos accumulating an average of 980K to 1.4 million views.

Having seen the rapid rise in this trend, brands have now started to take advantage of its popularity. And brands are looking to do more than simply buy advertising space. Instead, they want to get in on the act. Some large companies have even started hiring ASMR video artists to create and produce long-form videos to promote their products and services.

These ASMR artists are making good money assisting brands as well. Depending on the size of the brand, the views per video, and the level of the influencer, brands might pay these artists between $1000 and $3000 per campaign.  These artists have become influencers in their own niche market with their own strong personal brands, and brands want them behind their products.

Influencer marketing has been a growing industry in particular in the past decade or so as companies have realized the power in partnering with influencers who already have large followings in their own niche. With the inclusion of ASMR influencer marketing, the influencer marketing industry is predicted to grow to be a $5-$10 billion industry within five years.

How Do Companies Use ASMR?

Big companies are starting to incorporate ASMR into t heir campaigns and they’re doing so with great success.

KFC is one company that is using it in their marketing campaigns, and celebrities are getting in on the fun, too. Last year IKEA launched an advertising series called “Oddly IKEA,” or which they developed a series of six ASMR-style videos, including one long-form video that ran to 25-minutes.

In these videos, the focus is on the products and no on the woman narrating the ad. The narrator tells viewers to listen to the sound of the bed sheet as she runs her hands over them, and repeats that while interacting with a variety of products. For example she also fluffs pillows, scratches the desktop, and taps a desk lamp.

The strategy paid off in a big way for the company, too. The video went viral and to date has had 2 million views. After the video was first posted, IKEA says it saw a 4.5% increase in sales in store and a 5.1% increase in online sales.

Other brands have also jumped on the bandwagon, with Dove Chocolate, Applebees, and a Swedish Beer maker, Norrland Guld Ljus, among the companies that have leveraged the sensorial experience of ASMR in their marketing campaigns.

Some other examples of ASMR marketing from big companies include:

  • Applebee, who created a 60 minute ASMR video of a juicy piece of steak being cooked on an open fire grill.
  • McDonald’s, who launched its Speechless campaign to promote its new 100% fresh beef Quarter Pounder. The campaign features 30 second commercials starring Charles Barkley, Gabrielle Union, and John Goodman in which they sit in a McDonald’s restaurant eating a Quarter Pounder in silence
  • Capital One, who recently a commercial featuring Jennifer Garner whispering in a library.

With brands leveraging not only the popularity of ASMR, but also the star power of known celebrities and influencer, ASMR marketing combines two forces of marketing to produce great responses to their marketing efforts.

An ASMR marketing campaign is a particularly good idea for brands with a product to sell that could product soothing sound that will elicit the sensory response that fans of ASMR are looking for.

Is It Illegal?

As there is no scientific evidence that ASMR produce any beneficial neurological responses, some people and countries are a bit wary of these videos.

Suspicious of ASMR and its effects, the Chinese government decided to ban the phenomenon, ordering the removal of ASMR videos from their biggest video streaming sites, including Youku, Bilibili, and Douyu.

The ruling came via China’s anti-pornography office, which issued a statement explaining that porn was being released under the guise of ASMR, emphasising that this could be a threat to minors, who apparently make up a large part of ASMR’s viewership.

So far, China is the only country to take such precautions, and many believe that the outright ban may be going a bit too far. So long as you are not in China or are looking to advertise to the Chinese market, then ASMR marketing could be a great approach for your company.

How Can You Apply ASMR to Your Marketing Efforts?

As the popularity of ASMR continue to grow, and with many of its creators reaching an almost celebrity-like status in their own right, now is an ideal time to look into the genre as a mean of expanding your online reach.

Reach out to ASMR influencers in your niche market and partner with them in your campaigns, or find a way to promote your product or services using the auditory phenomenon that you create internally.

ASMR is one long-standing trend that does not appear to be going away anytime soon. In fact, its popularity continues to get stronger, with the amount of content being produced around the topic continuing to increase, and the search interest from the audience continuing to rise.

To find out more about current trends in social media marketing, then follow Cereal Entrepreneur on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. You can also learn more about how to break into the world of influencer marketing by enrolling in our Personal Branding & Influencer Marketing course, or by checking out our FREE training materials on our blog.

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