ASMR commercial debuts during the Super Bowl

ASMR made it to the Super Bowl.

On Feb 3, 2019, an ASMR commercial featuring Zoe Kravitz and Michelob Ultra Pure Gold played during the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl.

In full disclosure, I was the ASMR consultant for the past couple of months to the creative and production teams behind the commercial.  These individuals truly wanted to understand ASMR and represent it appropriately in the commercial – and I think they did a fantastic job, as do some ASMR artists.

The ASMR artist, Somni Rosae, sent me the following email:

“Hi Dr. Richard!  Have you seen the new beer ad for the Super Bowl?  Personally, I think this is the first ad I think the advertising agencies got it right.  Cheers, Somni”

The ASMR artist, Gibi ASMR, commented on the commercial in the Chicago Tribune:

“I thought it was awesome. They hit the nail on the head. You can tell they did their research: They had the binaural microphones, had her whispering back and forth. They had tapping, nice sounds. They definitely watched content and had done their research on what ASMR is supposed to be. They, of course, blew it up, made it Hollywood, used a big budget, and so it was very cool. They were accurate.”

The video is currently posted on the YouTube channel for Michelob Ultra (it is the most viewed video on the channel) and contains positive comments from additional ASMR artists like ASMR DarlingfastASMRKaruna Satori ASMRThe ASMR RyanASMR Destiny, Holly ASMR, and Tyson ASMR.

The production was selected as one of the 10 Best Super Bowl Commercials by The Washington PostThrillist, and Oprah Magazine, and five months later was described as,the prime example of an incredibly successful ASMR brand advertisement.

My favorite article about the commercial was by Dr William Halligan, a dentist in San Diego who saw it and asked, “what in the world was this?”   Dr Halligan then went searching about ASMR and even strapped a heart rate monitor on himself to see his physiological response to ASMR videos.

The Super Bowl commercial is linked below and here are some of the key ASMR elements to watch for:

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Voices of ASMR: What triggers ASMR while watching a video? (podcast episode #16)

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityIn this podcast episode, you will hear participants in the Voices of ASMR project explain the following about their ASMR experiences:

What triggers ASMR for you when you are watching a video, include details like:

  • Are you triggered by voices? sounds? sights?
  • Which of the above trigger types is the strongest for you?
  • Can you experience ASMR by listening to a video with the screen off?
  • What specific actions, sounds, scenarios, or role-plays in a video stimulate your ASMR the strongest?
  • Do your immediate surroundings make a difference to your ability to experience ASMR from a video?
  • Do you prefer intentional ASMR videos or unintentional ASMR videos?
  • Who are your favorite ASMR artists and why do you like them better than other artists?
  • For you, is the ASMR stimulated by a video similar or different from the ASMR stimulated by a real world situation?

Subscribe (free) to the ASMR University Podcast to hear all of the past and future episodes or listen to this one episode right here:

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Undergraduate student completes research study on ASMR and student studying

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityPa Chee Yang is an undergraduate student  majoring in Applied Social Science with a concentration in Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

She decided to investigate some associations between ASMR and student studying for his Applied Social Science Capstone research project.  Her advisor was Dr Zach Raff and her Capstone project was titled, “How ASMR affects student study.”

Pa Chee recruited 98 local students for her study and inquired about ASMR experiences, GPA, introversion, caffeine use, sleep difficulties, stress levels, and music habits.

In my interview with Pa Chee she explains her inspiration, goals, methods, and the results of her study.   She also provides tips for other students researching ASMR.

Below are my questions in bold, her replies in italics, and links to her complete Capstone project, as well as, a presentation file summarizing her project.

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Participate in a research study about ASMR and mindfulness

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityEleanor Osborne-Ford is an undergraduate student, majoring in psychology, and pursuing her BSc Degree at Bath Spa University in the UK.

Her dissertation is investigating the relationship of ASMR and mindfulness and is titled, “Investigation into traits of absorption, mindfulness and state of flow in individuals who experience ASMR and controls.”  Dr Agnieszka Janik McErlean, an established ASMR researcher, is her mentor for this study (see HERE for publications).

Eleanor is looking for individuals to take her online survey.  The survey is open to individuals who do or do not experience ASMR, and who are aged 18 and over up to 35 years old.  The survey is anonymous and should take about 20 minutes maximum.

The survey will remain open until 200 individuals have participated.

Below is a link to the online survey and more info.

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First published study to show brain activity during ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityI’m happy to share that I am one of the co-authors of the first published study to show brain activity during ASMR.

The study is titled, “An fMRI investigation of the neural correlates underlying the ASMR” and was published by Bryson Lochte, Sean Guillory, Craig Richard, and William Kelley in the journal BioImpacts on September 23, 2018.

One of the biggest questions about ASMR is, “What is happening in the brain?”  Although this study doesn’t fully answer that question, it is the first data to provide some direct insights.

Participants quietly layed down in fMRI machines, watched ASMR videos, and  their brains were scanned during moments of brain tingling – and then those brain images were compared to moments without brain tingling.

The brain regions that were strongly activated during ASMR were similar to those regions activated when humans, and other animals, perform soothing social behaviors – known as affiliative behaviors.  Typical examples of affiliative behaviors include calmly sitting close to each other, touching each other gently, and mutual grooming.

So how exactly was this study done?

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ASMR commercials – a growing trend

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityIn 2015, Dove chocolate probably created the first ASMR-inspired commercial.

In 2016, more companies followed, including Pepsi, KFC, and Ritz Crackers.

And since then, the list has been growing steadily to include Ikea, Applebee’s, McDonalds, Renault, Toyota, Sony, Zippo lighters, MTV, Behr paint, and more.

I won’t say they all succeeded in making ideal ASMR-triggering videos – some definitely understood ASMR better than others.

But I think they all did succeed in highlighting their products or message in a relaxing way.  ASMR has inspired a new wave of commercials that don’t yell at you, push their products on you, demand you buy right now, and add to your daily stress.

Interested in viewing these low-key, relaxing commercials?

I’ve just created a new page on this website dedicated solely to ASMR-inspired commercials.  I will keep adding to the page as more are produced, so feel free to revisit it occasionally to see the list grow.

Some of the commercials that I think have the best ASMR triggers include Dove chocolate, Ritz crackers, Michelob Ultra, Renault, and Ikea.

Visit the new page: ASMR Commercials

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“Brain Tingles”, the first how-to guide for stimulating person-to-person ASMR

I’m happy to share that my book “Brain Tingles” has recently been published by Simon & Schuster and is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The focus of the book is to help individuals learn the types and key principles of ASMR triggers for stimulating person-to-person ASMR.  The book covers how to use light touch, gentle sounds, soothing voices, and calming activities to bring the blissfulness of ASMR to people in your life.

The book is also filled with quotes from ASMR artists, quotes from those who experience ASMR, and references to ASMR research findings –  tying together the practice, experience, application, science, and hypotheses about ASMR.

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Graduate student completes research study about the role of ASMR in the service industry

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian ResponseI posted a prior article titled, “Participate in a research study about the role of ASMR in the service industry.

Good news, the research study is completed and some results are now available.

The researcher was Vladimir Fedoseev, a graduate student pursuing his MBA at the Varna University of Management in Varna, Bulgaria (a partner university of Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales).

His dissertation focused on the involvement of ASMR in the service industry and is titled, “Effect of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) on Service User Experience”

He investigated how ASMR triggers, like soft speech, gentle sounds, careful hand movements, light touch, personal attention, and kind personalities, might effect experiences with hairdressers, doctors, hotel clerks, and others in the service industry.

In this second interview with Vladimir he reviews the details of his methods and shares some results of his research project.

One curious observation I noticed in his results is that gentle sounds, soft speech, and personal attention were the top triggers perceived by participants to cause ASMR in services, but the services with increasing reliance of light touch (like a hairdresser) showed increasing likelihood of stimulating ASMR.  This could imply that light touch is a stronger contributor in service-mediated ASMR than the participants realized.

Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, and links to learn more about his research project.

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Undergraduate student investigates psychoacoustics of ASMR trigger sounds

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityAnders Köhler recently graduated from the University of Skövde in Sweden with a Degree of Bachelor of Arts and majored in Media Arts, Aesthetics, and Narration (Game Development – Sound).

His examination project investigated the psychoacoustic properties of ASMR sounds and was titled, “A study of scratching sounds within ASMR in a neutral sound environment.”

Anders’ goal was to try to find  patterns and properties in ASMR trigger sounds.  This is a terrific quest.  What is special about crinkling, tapping, whispering, and scratching sounds that make them so blissful and delightful to ASMR enthusiasts?

He focused his project on scratching sounds and utilized state-of-the-art tools and methods to dissect the sound profiles.

In my interview with Anders he explains his goals, research design, and shares a table of his data with a full explanation of what he discovered in his project.

Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, and links to his study, a video summary, and his Facebook page.

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Published research study examines how expectations can affect ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityDaniella Cash, Laura Heisick, and Megan Papesh from Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, LA have published a research study about expectations and ASMR.

The study is titled aptly, “Expectancy effects in the ASMR” and was published August 22, 2018 in the journal PeerJ.  Links to this paper and a follow up commentary paper are at the end of this article.

I’m often asked why only some individuals experience ASMR.  The answer is that no one knows.  Yet.  The easiest answer could be that the response is dependent on a specific gene sequence – you either have it or you don’t.

But life is never that simple.

It is believed that experiencing ASMR is more likely to occur while being in a relaxing setting, having a calm mind, selecting a preferred trigger type and style, and even perhaps not being on specific drugs or medications which could interfere with ASMR.

What about the influence of life experiences, culture, or expectations?   Particularly expectations.  Expectations could be a part of the magic behind the placebo effect.

Could the placebo effect explain ASMR?  Or what about vice versa?  Maybe ASMR could explain the placebo affect in specific cases?

Visualize a clinician handing you a pill – that is a moment filled with personal attention, caring behaviors, a soft voice, and probably the light touch of their hand on yours, as well as, a reassuring hand on your back as you walk out of their office.

How about meeting with a therapist on a regular basis?  A weekly dose of hyper-focused personal attention from a trained expert with a soft and steady voice – that is an ASMR recipe.  If therapy sessions help you feel calmer, then is it the wisdom, the insights, the ASMR, or all of that which bring you serenity?

In this study, the authors investigated if expectations can affect ASMR – an important question indeed.

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