Oddly IKEA: Getting in on the ASMR phenomenon

First things first for the unfamiliar: ASMR stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response” but it’s more than just that, and not everyone is susceptible to its effects. Econsultancy breaks it down on their blog:

“If you’ve ever been sent into a state of pure relaxation from hearing someone turn the pages of a newspaper or speaking particularly softly – you might be tuned into the effects of ASMR.

Essentially, it is the response some people have to specific sounds, triggering a tingling sensation that extends over the scalp and body.

Thanks to its calming and almost sedative-like effect, it is increasingly being used as a way of soothing anxiety and relieving insomnia.

There are now over 5.2m videos relating to ASMR on YouTube, with the most popular garnering over 16m views.”

Of course any niche on the internet gaining attention means it will gain the attention of brands eager to experiment with their content and reach new audiences, so that’s exactly what’s happening with ASMR. As with most brand forays into niche communities, the results are mixed, with some seeming more sincere than others.

KFC’s entry into ASMR, for example, is so weird “that it’s hard not to see it as a parody of the genre”, but IKEA’s brand personality fits the genre better, with just enough room for the unusual that their move seems much more sincere.

“As part of its ‘Oddly Ikea’ campaign, it created a 25-minute video promoting its new range of ‘back to school’ items for college and university accommodation.

The video involves a woman narrator gently caressing pillows and delicately grazing her nails over a lamp, all the while explaining the products’ various features.”

The fact that this was chosen to promote their “back-to-school” college and university lines is no accident either; ASMR is a big community on YouTube and that definitely fits in with the same demographic.

So does this niche area have a lot of potential for brands? It’s difficult for brands to break into any niche community without seeming insincere, so it will have to be a smart fit that is well executed and comes across very genuinely. But for those who do, it could be nice for the community to feel recognized by something more “mainstream”.

It’s definitely an interesting avenue for brands to explore and a very difficult balance for them to achieve as they do.


Hat tip for this one goes to Econsultancy (especially their great background piece on ASMR here). Love this? See more Campaigns We Love hereNeed help measuring a campaign of your own? We can help with that