February 16th, 2012
Marketing often borders on the inappropriate, hugging the line between what is acceptable and what is not. It’s playing on the edge that gets people’s attention, especially when it comes to the positioning of useful services in unusual contexts. Anywho’s reverse phone number finder, for example, allows you to search for a person or business’s address by entering their phone number. On its face this may seem like a bizarre service, until you realize it also allows you to identify anomalous incoming numbers. What at first seems dubious can quickly turn helpful.
One could say the same thing about the use of audio spotlighting in marketing campaigns, an increasingly frequent practice used by some of the biggest corporations on the planet. Audio spotlighting is the act of projecting a “beam” of sound in a certain direction so that it will only be heard by a person walking in that general space. It has been used in a number of marketing campaigns. Street marketing for A&E’s “Paranormal Activity” involved the use of audio spotlighting that targeted passersby in New York and Los Angeles with reverberating questions, “Who’s there? Who said that?” Last year, Boston’s Pops Holiday concert series used it for promotional purposes. Blue Blast Media used holosonic sound to advertise “NASCAR Summer Series on TNT” in the Charlotte Epicenter. The sounds of revving engines and AC/DC’s “T.N.T” met people who passed within a certain region of the Epicenter’s courtyard, drawing their attention to a larger than life billboard festooned with signage.
One could ask whether this practice borders on unethical, seeing as how it seems on its face to be used to initially disorient a person and make them more susceptible to advertising. But a reality to consider is that many merchants and agencies use holosonic sound in order to reduce the noise of their adverts. This is a convenience that benefits other merchants and local businesses as well as people who desire a less boisterous public sphere.
There’s also the practical uses audio spotlighting can have in educational settings, such as in museums and libraries. Imagine strolling through a museum and being able to glean information about an exhibit without disrupting others. It would allow libraries to impart information to readers without disturbing the peace. Holosonic sound has been used in all kinds of settings, marketing campaigns, trade shows, office reception areas, etc. It’s a technology that demonstrates the ability and desire on the part of marketers to imbue clever new techniques with practical advantages. Time will tell whether consumers view an application like holosonic sound beams as intrusions or novel conveniences.
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- Holosonic Sound in Marketing 16 09 12