We rely so heavily on images in our world. We put such a huge emphasis on visuals for our understanding and communication that we often forget how crucial audio can be. Not so sure? Consider a past game of Pictionary; was the concept  immediately clear? Probably not.

Words and sounds contribute immensely to our understanding of actions, events and processes. In remembering the reports from Desert Storm, the images were often awful and indecipherable but the audio was great. It conveyed the story perfectly; from the bomb blasts to the sirens and street sounds to the reporters’ rushed and uncertain voices, it was clear what conditions on the ground were like.

While audio is often important and powerful in situations lacking good visuals, visual products with great audio are sometimes harder to come by. Many commercials rely so heavily on visuals that, without them, the message is lost. Consider the recent Chevy Sonic commercial; while totally awesome and one of my favorites, it doesn’t work without the video. Below are a few commercials that have audio components that work independently from the video.


This commercial is a great example of effectively using sound to convey a product’s purpose and importance. While the product is a voice-controlled and responsive application, the audio works well to showcase all the different uses for Siri. The ad also uses multiple voices from men and women, young and old to give the listener a clear understanding that all different people use Siri. While some of what Siri provides it textual and visual, the audio works independently of the video yet the inverse is not true. The music used throughout works well because it is upbeat but there is also a build of of sorts in the tempo before the voiceover comes in. The VO is clear, short and direct which works because the voices interacting with Siri tell the story effectively. The interactions, music and VO are all cohesive in tone and style. The ad comes across as clear, simple and friendly – all probably reflective of what the product strives to be.


The ‘Real Men of Genius’ ads all work well independently from the video. The ads employ an over exaggerated announcer voice to detail what makes these men so great and a song celebrates them echoing what the announcer is saying. These ads are great examples of simple voiceover and music used in a comedic way that’s often hard to achieve without visuals. The script is the real genius behind these ads because the details included give listeners a clear picture in there minds of these ‘real men’ and can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all.


This commercial featuring a taco party is an example of audio illustrating exactly what’s happening. The listener instantly hears people talking, laughing and crunching food. The VO features a perturbed coworker (because he mentions being outside Bill’s office) that accuses the group of not inviting him. A sound effect of a phone vibrating is then heard and then clothes shuffling only to hear the VO come back in and say “oh.” Without even seeing the phone or message, the listener instantly understands that the speaker just got the message about the party. Then, an entirely different VO comes in to reinforce the message of “being left behind” and introduce the product to keep you current. The natural sounds of a gathering establish the scene and the voice of the angry left out man gives this commercial an authentic feel. The buzz of the phone and shuffling for it make this ad work independently of the video; without it, the scene might not be as clear to the listener.