Big brands are jumping on the ASMR bandwagon

Once just a niche genre of entertainment on the Internet, autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos, which trigger “brain tingles” in some people, are gaining mainstream recognition as a form of stress relief. It comes as no surprise that these videos have taken off among Gen Zs who are experiencing high levels of anxiety, leading them to seek out forms of entertainment that double as self-care. Brands have picked up on this growing wellness trend and are creating ASMR-inspired commercials that appeal to viewers’ senses.


In a bid to capture young people’s attention, Applebee’s created a 60 minute ASMR video of a juicy piece of steak being cooked on an open fire grill. The camera remains in a static position, placing the focus on the satisfying sizzle of meat on a hot iron grill; the soft sound is meant to trigger ASMR. The restaurant’s video is inspired by long ASMR YouTube videos that feature visual, auditory, or haptic treatments meant to relax viewers, often helping them fall asleep. This form of slumber inducing entertainment is popular among young people who stress about not getting adequate sleep.


McDonald’s 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. The videos are inspired by the idea that words can’t describe the delicious new burger and they include tingle inducing chewing sounds and satisfied mm-hmms typical of ASMR eating sound videos, which are popular on YouTube.


Toyota launched its new 2018 Camry with a campaign called Sensations that utilizes sound, imagery, and tactile media to highlight the feelings one experiences when driving a new Camry. As part of its campaign, the car brand released an ASMR enhanced commercial highlighting all the different sounds drivers experience in a car, like the rev of an engine or the sound of a hand gripping a leather steering wheel. The 30 second video opens with instructions to wear headphones so viewers who experience ASMR can enjoy its calming effects. The commercial demonstrates how even a car brand like Toyota can capitalize on the ASMR trend and create soothing videos based around its product.