With the quantity of time spent watching video ads increasing in almost everybody’s lives, the need for advertisers to stand out remains an ever-present challenge. One way to do this is to stop drilling them with words and let them experience your message. Here are a few brands that have done this to great effect.


Mountain Hardware: OutDry Packs (2016)

Mountain Hardware focuses on people’s connection to the outdoors. Their products allow for people to spend a safer and more enjoyable time out in nature, away from daily stressors and crowds of people. So it only makes sense that their commercial is devoid of dialogue or voice-over.

Instead, they capture you with the calming sounds of light rain, wind through the trees, gentle ocean waves and even the sounds of cracking open a beer by the fire. Brand advertising is very much about association. For outdoor enthusiasts, the sounds of nature matter the most, and that’s what does the talking for this brand.


Nike: “Write The Future” (2010)

As is common in sports (and sport product) advertising, sound design plays a heavy role in creating a larger than life, visceral feeling. The goal with these ads is to inspire and motivate, putting you in the shoes of players during epic, life-changing moments of the game.

Nike’s brand film “Write The Future” came out in 2010 and won several major awards. Over the course of 3 minutes, with nearly no real dialogue or voice-over, they manage to tell the personal stories of multiple individual players as the game unfolds.

While editing is, of course, the most essential component to bring the stories together, the sound design takes center stage by building suspense and delivering energy for the duration of the ad. Three minutes is a long time to keep someone’s attention for something they didn’t request to watch, so this is the sound design’s main function.

Notice how the music changes and how it flows in and out. The crowds energy changes (telling us how to feel). There are dynamic stops in the sound mix, then there is a long moment of tension (in the classic “under-water” muffled aesthetic) where we slow down time to understand what’s at stake for this player. This moment carries the audience out on a suspenseful cliffhanger. Having dynamic sound is what allows them to capture your attention without using the voice as the focus. 


Volkswagen Passat: “The Force” (2012)

This clever ad borrows the Star Wars brand to tell the story of a little kid who just wants to use the force like Darth Vader, except it doesn’t quite seem to go his way.

While the Star Wars Imperial March theme plays for the majority of the duration with only intermittent sound effects, the important part comes near the end where they finally pull back the music, change themes and create suspense. If the audience wasn’t watching before, the shift in sound can be enough to tilt your heads to the screen.

It’s at this moment that we see the kid finally get what he was looking for, and it just so happens to be the sound of the car’s engine. A perfect way to bring recognition to the feature they’re marketing without saying a single word.

If you want to check out an ad with a similar sentiment, but that’s even more sound design intensive, check out Tesla’s “Modern Spaceship” commercial.


The Netherlands Academy of Film: De Schelp (The Shell)

Ok, so we threw an extra one in. While this one is actually in German, you need not worry about the language barrier as this ad for their Sound Design program captures the wonders and possibilities of sound without needing to say a word.


Take-Aways for Advertising With Sound

  1. Just like exposition kills a good story in many films, you don’t always need a voice-over to make a great video ad.
  2. Keep your audience engaged with dynamic sound design and mixing. Reel in their attention with a sudden shift.
  3. Use sounds that speak for your brand



If you’re looking to up the ante on sound design in your next advertisement, check out Soundsnap. With flexible pricing options and a huge selection of quality sounds, we’re a popular choice for advertising firms working on numerous small projects.