Brands were quick to capitalize on the viral “yanny or laurel” debate this week by stubbornly choosing a side, remaining neutral or inviting conversation on social media.
The debate started last week when high school student Katie Hetzel was working on a school project that recorded a computerized pronunciation of the word “laurel” from their computer speakers. Other students in the room discovered that they heard different things so Hetzel posed the question to their Instagram followers. Soon after, fellow student Roland Szabo, posting as RolandCamry, posed the question to Reddit. Other students posted the clip as well across social media and the debate has gained considerable traction ever since.
So what’s the correct answer? While the recording originated from “laurel,” examining Hetzel’s low-quality recording reveals that both words can be heard at different frequencies—”laurel” at low frequencies” and “yanny” at high.
People are responding to the debate in the thousands—let’s examine how brands have joined the conversation.
Brands that heard “laurel” created memes to express their frustration about how anyone could interpret the clip any other way.
— NickSplat (@NickSplat) May 16, 2018
— Barnes & Noble (@BNBuzz) May 16, 2018
Warby Parker was a bit more subtle, promoting its Laurel model of glasses but calling it Yanny.
— Warby Parker (@WarbyParker) May 16, 2018
Others, hearing the higher tones of “yanny,” defended their position on the matter with equal ferocity.
Team #yanny . RT if you're with us! ✋
— Giordano's Pizza (@GiordanosPizza) May 16, 2018
— DuckTales (@DuckTales) May 15, 2018
— Roseanne on ABC (@RoseanneOnABC) May 16, 2018
There are two types of people in the world: Those who hear #Laurel and those who say realator.
— Santa Clarita Diet (@SCDiet) May 16, 2018
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) May 16, 2018
— VfL Wolfsburg US (@VfLWolfsburg_US) May 16, 2018
Embracing Both Sides
Not wanting to alienate any customers, most brands decided to show support for both “yanny” and “laurel” listeners. Some asked users to respond with the word they heard more clearly.
— Jimmy John's (@jimmyjohns) May 16, 2018
— Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) May 16, 2018
— KodakPlus (@KodakPlus) May 16, 2018
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) May 16, 2018
— Jersey Mike's Subs (@jerseymikes) May 16, 2018
— Shazam (@Shazam) May 16, 2018
— KontrolFreek® (@KontrolFreek) May 16, 2018
Staying Out Of It Altogether
Some brands merely commented on the debate rather than choose a side.
I can’t tell if it’s Yanny or Laurel bc I refuse to turn up my volume for any reason
— MoonPie (@MoonPie) May 15, 2018
— Captain Morgan (@CaptainMorganUS) May 16, 2018
Americans: do you hear Yanny or Laurel??
Canadians: Why isn’t One Tree Hill on Netflix!
— Netflix Canada (@Netflix_CA) May 16, 2018
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) May 16, 2018
— Skittles (@Skittles) May 16, 2018
— Audible (@audible_com) May 16, 2018
Hearing What You Want
It has been suggested that what listeners hear on the recording can also be influenced by previous experiences and preconceived notions. Some brands dodged the debate by “hearing what they wanted,” inserting different audio into the clip.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) May 16, 2018
— Xbox Canada (@XboxCanada) May 16, 2018