Can you hear me now?

If you’re like most people you’re way to smart for advertising. You skip straight past the magazine ads, never click on ads online¬† and leave the room during TV commercials.

That’s at least, what most people tell themselves. But we all know this is laughably untrue even if this makes us all feel better to think so. We are exposed to almost 4000 ads a day. And unfortunately trying to tune out all of these ads and their influence in our lives may be about to get a whole lot more difficult.¬† Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology, has recently created a new area in the realm of advertising called nueromarketing. Lindstrom measured individuals brain activity, pupil dilation, sweat responses and flickers of the facial muscles – all of which are markers of emotion. According to him 83% of all forms of advertising principally engage only one of our senses – sight. Hearing, it seems, can be just as powerful though advertisers rarely take advantage of it.

Historically companies have relied on jingles and catchy slogans to catch our ears. What Lindtrom discovered is that the everyday sounds go largely unnoticed, a baby laughing, a steak sizzling, the crack of a baseball bat and other sounds we can’t help paying attention to. Weave this into an ad campaign and there’s a pretty good chance we will be powerless to resist it.

To figure out what sounds we like best Lindstrom played 100’s of sounds to volunteers, everything from the McDonald’s slogan “I’m Lovin’ It” to birds chirping and a cigarette being lit. One sound blew the doors off all the others, a baby giggling. Other high ranking sounds were a cell phone vibrating, ATM’s dispensing cash, and the Star Spangled Banner. These sounds already have meaning in each of our lives and thus can trigger a cascade of emotions.

Lindtrom admits to being mystified at TV ads that show a close-up of food and shots of steaks on the grill but accompany it with lame sound tracks. In addition to adding these favorable sounds to a spot he also noted that people responded better when the sound was subtle.

The next time you go to the grocery store for milk and end up with gourmet coffee beans, it may well be because you heard the sound of a coffee pot percolating.

But it’s not like you would ever admit it.

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