Decoding the Power of Natural Sounds in Advertising

natural sounds

Social Samosa spoke to a cross-section of industry experts to deep dive into the effective use of environment or naturally produced sounds and its influence on consumer perception.

From the slurping sound after sipping a hot cup of chai to the chirping of the birds in the mountains to the burbling of the flowing water, each of these sounds, though not in a verbal sense, very well communicate the happenings in their truest sense. One such medium that has not too often but has occasionally utilized – ‘Power of Natural Sounds’; it is aptly leveraged by the advertising community.

While Xiaomi’s ‘Vande Mataram’ was recreated with the sounds of Xiaomi handsets, Reliance Market revived the tune of ‘Saare Jahan Se Acha’ out of music produced by that one finds and activities that one experiences at their stores. Meanwhile Godrej’s ‘The Sounds of Making India’ made us hear the thuds, the bangs and the rhythms of progress as India moves forward.

While the sound in advertising can comprise of the narration, voice-over, background score, and many elemental noises, here we intend to explore how to effectively leverage the environment and naturally created sounds combining it with an over the top visual.

Making Effective ‘Use of Sound in Advertising’

Every TV commercial nowadays is fighting to stand out. So much that beyond a point these commercials become blind spots. What can be done so that the audience looks up takes notice?  “By using sound effectively. Or don’t use it at all,” exclaimed Sachin Karle, Co-Founder, Director, KitesUnited IMC.  “The sound itself can be the idea or it can be an important element that complements the idea”.

Effective use of sound in campaigns is considered innovative as it manages to bring alive a message or concept. It was subtle, engaging and sometimes even a strong storyteller. It has been utilized extremely well for bike brands like Triumph and Arch Motorcycle Company.

Aakriti Sinha, National Head-Social Media, Isobar India remembers sounds being effectively used to attract sensorial experiences when it came to food. However, she feels that off late, forced use and templating the use of sound takes away the essence of the whole concept and brings nothing to the story-telling aspect.

Sound is a very integral part of a campaign, as we have seen over the decades. Audio has always led the markets in terms of advertising, shared Harish Bijoor, Brand Guru & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults iNc. Audio precedes the visual in terms of radio preceding television in most economies.

“Today, we have taking an amalgam of the visual and the audio so much for granted, that the unique use of either of these separately, or with greater focus, seems to go unnoticed at times,” he added.  The effective use of sound is a big possibility for the future. The way Borosil has used sound, possibly basic, but very effective, particularly when mixed with the sentiment of the national anthem and the powerful vox populi visuals.

We have all the ‘nav-ras’; which is characteristic of the industry and has been used for decades to convey a gamut of emotions from grief, to happiness and sensuality to anger. Rajdeepak Das, MD India, and Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia observed, “In the stead, a film-maker uses music to emotionally appeal to the audience, the same principle applies to advertising  which uses music to evoke sentiments and create a connection with the audience in a less than 30 second film”.

Leo Burnett’s campaign for CarDekho on Women’s Day aimed at busting the myth that women are bad drivers and so the brand got women drivers to reverse park with precision and in perfect synchrony. The agency partnered with celebrated musician Sneha Khanwalkar, to create audio loops. This was followed by reverse beepers of cars being reprogrammed to play these loops when the cars reversed. The female drivers then reversed in sync and created music. Everything was recorded live and a track was created. The music video went live on Women’s Day, garnering over 8 million views across social media.

Sound influencing Consumer Perception

Sound is the most important aspect of an ad or a film that can be embedded in the consumer’s mind for generations. According to Karle, that is why many brands also go for a signature tune or a sonic identity for their brand. Quite often consumers actually remember the brands by their tunes or the jingles. Britannia, Ponds, Parle, Intel, Coca-Cola, LG, Renault, BMW to name a few.   

The effective use of sound shows the possibilities and clarity of the feature of the product. Mostly for how can you enhance the regular experience. It delights the consumer, sometimes very important TOM recall and establishes that connect with the consumers.

Also Read: Role of emojis in modern-day storytelling

Sinha believes that it is always a big YES to multi-sensory experiences that video content can provide to connect or delight the consumers. The best and the most recent example can be the latest set of Instagram -videos by Apple which has sound experiences playing a live tennis match in your head. 

We relate to sound intrinsically. Echoing similar views, Bijoor too feels that sounds allow us to perceive brands and branded offerings with an inner appreciation that is deeper and more subliminal than anything else. “The visual is in the eye, the sound is really in the mind! Sound, therefore, touches chords that are deeper and more subliminal than the visual,” he stressed.

Oindrila Roy, Head of Strategy, India, Essence too thinks that by associating a brand with a certain sound, various marketing objectives can be achieved, and go beyond being just an effective storytelling tool in an ad film.

How can one stand out?

“To stand out it is important to create relevant and distinctive tracks; a few seconds of carefully selected music can set the tone and mood for a campaign and play a critical role in creating recognition from the creative point of view”, elucidated Das.

Bijoor added here, “The visual is a distraction. If one is to really play with sound, one needs to go back to very basic and maybe even static visuals”. All advertising can be tested before release for the mix of the impact of audio, visual, and audio-vidual combined.

The brand can stand out by being true to their product and brand image while devising the content which is layered and enhanced by the sound experience. Sinha is of the opinion that if you have the role of the sound clear in your messaging, then it only elevates or enhances the concept of the idea rather than just being a prop.

An idea is always at the core of a campaign. Sometimes the sound itself can be the idea. The execution can make or break your idea.  Audio and Video go hand in hand. You cannot compromise on these two.

For Karle, this process is like making a sandwich with many layers. A sandwich of visuals and sounds. A perfect combination of these layers often works and stands out.

“Having said this, in the advent of new technology and digital evolution while designing a brand communication, we must keep in mind that the consumers often see the communication in ‘sound off’ mode on their cellphones. And hence the visual should be appealing enough to make him turn on the sound”, he signed off.