The sound of sizzling dumplings cooking can now earn you discounts on Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, using its app Oil Hijack.

Pinduoduo is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China, selling daily groceries and home appliances and integrating social networks such as WeChat, a Chinese messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Tencent.

The Oil Hijack app recognises cooking oil sounds at home and on the street, and even from TV commercials and TV shows, and dispenses discount coupons to the user. The campaign is made possible by sound recognition technology.

The sound of familiarity

Sounds are often part of a brand, such as the widely-recognisable sound of Tupperware containers opening and closing contributing to its fame and familiarity.

Tupperware experimented with sounds on its adverts, using electronic music and gentler compositions and found the latter gained 10 times the number of views on YouTube.

“Our brains love it when what we see and hear are aligned. Conversely, our brains find it distracting and upsetting when it’s out of sync,” Heather Andrew, chief executive of neuro-research company Neuro-Insight, explained to Campaign.

Neuro-Insight found that when music and visuals synchronise well in a marketing campaign or advert the brain generates a 14% higher memory-encoding response.

Campaigns that associate sounds with the brand

Swedish furniture brand Ikea and advertisers Ogilvy made a 25-minute advert that showcased sounds such as smoothing bedsheets and knocking on cupboard drawers.

The idea was to create autonomous sensory meridian responses giving prospective customers a pleasant tingling feeling or ‘braingasm’, which they would associate with Ikea products.

Volkswagen used sound in a more playful sound campaign, installing pianos in stairs at a Stockholm subway station and in Germany.

Car brands harnessing the va va voom

Car brands have always used sound to evoke excitement and emotion in their adverts, using big-name musicians and soundtracks to accompany their visuals.

The Mercedes Benz ‘Sound with Power’ advert showed a man in a suit that lights up when he hears various sounds like crashing waves, a baby laughing and the sound of the new Benz.

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Japanese brand Nissan had its silent electric cars produce sounds that conveyed a sense of acceleration for its driver and passengers.

Obsession with sound

Philips, the electronics company, developed an experience called ‘Obsession with Sound’ that let the listener single out individual musicians in the 51-piece Metropole Orchestra, in its promotion of speakers.

It extended the ‘hear every detail’ theme by giving listeners access to the musician’s musical tendencies, background and Twitter and blog feeds.