Noise: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Consider the yodeler. On a good day in the Swiss Alps, a yodeler can be heard for miles around. (Well, kilometers, actually, since it’s Switzerland.) On a bad day in a busy New York City intersection, that same yodeler might only be heard within a 15-foot radius, just before a cabbie drives into him.

Not only was this the waste of a perfectly-good yodeler, it was also a marketing metaphor. Welcome to the wonderful world of noise.

One of the essential tasks of marketing is communicating messages that get seen or heard and get reactions. This is done taking two types of business-industry-acknowledged noise into consideration: 1) Making some noise to get noticed (good noise), and 2) getting through all the noise that’s already out there (bad noise). To complete my Clint Eastwood connection, I’d like to throw in a third type of noise, the noise that annoys (ugly noise).

Good Noise


Waking up to singing birds.

An advertisement that takes a fresh and memorable approach.

A social media post that’s interesting, likable and sharable.

Bad Noise


Waking up to static from your clock radio because you didn’t set the station right.

A generic advertisement that becomes part of the clutter.

A cobbled-together social media post that’s posted just for the sake of posting.

Ugly Noise


Waking up to a dog that won’t stop barking. Or gunfire. Or a crashing dirigible.

An advertisement that talks down to you. Or screams at you.

A social media post that begs you to like or share it. Or scolds you to.

Frequency is another noise factor. Too much noise – good or bad – turns into ugly noise. And believe me, you don’t want things to get ugly. Watch the following Family Guy clip to illustrate this…

Don’t be Stewie.

Make a good noise and you just might get a good response.

And that concludes today’s lesson.

Clayton Hove is KK BOLD’s creative director, and is known not only for bringing in the noise,
but also bringing in the funk. He can’t yodel but he dreams of one day owning his own alpenhorn.

Posted on May 31, 2012 in KK BOLD

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