Zippo Trademarks Its Signature Click and Celebrates by Going All In on ASMR

BuzzFeed helps the brand mark its moment of audio triumph

Can a lighter give you audio euphoria? Zippo
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock that no one’s lightly scratched their nails on, you’ve probably heard about ASMR—the oddly tingle-inducing audio technique that creates soft noises some find satisfying and relaxing.

Ikea produced a surprisingly great ASMR (short for “autonomous sensory meridian response”) video about dorm room decor last year, and several other brands have followed suit, including Applebee’s  and KFC.

Lighter brand Zippo is the newest brand to waft gently into the world of ASMR, but the result—created by the branded content team at BuzzFeed—isn’t the most soothing audio experience.

But first: Why Zippo and ASMR? The connection here is the signature “click” sound of a Zippo opening and closing. The brand today announced the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted a trademark to Zippo for the click, putting it in a class of protected sounds that includes the MGM Lion roar and The Hunger Games’ mockingjay whistle.

The BuzzFeed video marks the occasion by inviting staffers to try their hands at ASMR. They’ll…probably be sticking with their day jobs.

“BuzzFeed is so happy to be a part of this campaign with Zippo,” says Brant McLean, svp of brand strategy at BuzzFeed. “ASMR is something our audience has had an increased interest in in recent months and we couldn’t wait to play around with the sound in one of our signature videos.”

Zippo also created a more legit ASMR video with the usual scratching and rubbing, joined by no small amount of clicking. While it’s more in the true spirit of the audio niche, the clip is a bit too short and underwhelming to make purists happy. So you’re probably better off with the creepy BuzzFeed guy whispering about being a stalker.

But the brand didn’t stop at videos. Zippo is also offering a lineup of ASMR-friendly lighters with textures you can scritch to your heart’s content.

The ASMR angle is likely to be short-lived, but the brand is seeing its audio trademark as a long-term win for its brand.

“While Zippo has released a vast array of designs on the classic windproof lighter over the past 86 years, the instantly recognizable Zippo ‘click’ sound has remained steadfast,” says Lucas Johnson, senior brand manager of global marketing at Zippo. “It is universally recognized as an identifier for the brand the world over. The trademark pays homage to Zippo’s unwavering dedication to quality design and durability.”

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
Publish date: December 5, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT