- Slack is a chat room app that is used at companies around the world, including here at Insider.
- They also have a television commercial that is making me lose my mind.
- *tsst dukdukduk*
Watching the NFL playoffs this weekend, one commercial reached into my brain and mashed it to goo.
, a chat room platform used by companies worldwide for intra-office communication, is pretty good at what it does. We use it here at Insider, and I like it. Imagine AIM, but for grown-ups, and you’re basically there.
But one aspect of using Slack at work every day is the humming ever-presence of the Slack notification, what the company refers to as its “knock brush” sound.
You can hear it here, starting this television spot for the company.
This commercial began messing with the minds of Slack users during last year’s Summer Olympics and has come back with a vengeance in the NFL postseason.
Slack boasts impressive numbers for a company just eight years old, with 12 million daily users and 156,000 companies using the service, including 65 of the Fortune 100 and city-state-sized companies like IBM and Amazon.
The sound of the Slack notification makes up a large part of the daily soundtrack for people (me!) who spend too much time on their computers and not enough time outside.
The sound indicates that “Hey, someone you work with, possibly a boss, has sent you a message. It looks like it would be a good idea to reply, don’tcha think!”
We need that deliverable ready for 2 p.m. Please provide an update as soon as possible.
There’s a Zoom meeting already happening that you are not in because you forgot to check your Google Calendar today.
A work friend just sent you a funny tweet.
This sound contains multitudes, all of them related to the workday. I respond to this sound in the interest of keeping myself employed by responding to queries of those that make decisions related to my employment in a timely fashion.
“Better get moving!” says my brain.
This is why the weaponization of the Slack notification sound being used in televised Slack commercials is so significantly upsetting.
I have shut my laptop for the day, turned on the television, and hope to sink into the nothingness from the comfort of my couch. It’s 6:30 pm, and I have successfully transitioned from the Bad Screen to the Good Screen.
Then suddenly, moments from nirvana, I am ambushed back into reality by a commercial for a company that I already use every day because of the nature of my job.
With 30 million Americans tuning in to watch the NFL playoffs this weekend, I was far from alone in my unrest at hearing Slack notifications ring out incessantly through commercial breaks.
Search “slack ad illegal” on Twitter, and you will find plenty of others who are just as concerned with this travesty as me.
—Mark Kim (@MarkJKim_) January 18, 2022
—Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) January 16, 2022
—Andy Nesbitt (@anezbitt) October 15, 2021
—ian molee (@ianfoo) January 16, 2022
In 2019, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield was asked by CNBC if he was sick of the sound that accompanied every message received in Slack.
“No it’s Pavlovian,” Butterfield replied. “I understand what it means. It has a significance.”
Here’s the thing, Stewart — you are correct. The sound your company made famous is Pavlovian. It has a significance. I understand what it means.
At least, I used to, until I started seeing an ad for Slack on television every other commercial break. Now I don’t know what to think anymore, and I don’t know who to trust. Does this sound mean that I have already pushed way too far past the deadline on my post for the day? Or is it just the second quarter of a Cowboys-49ers playoff game about to start?
Was it the TV or my computer? I stare at my hands in anguish like a Philip K. Dick protagonist questioning the nature of his reality.
Am I on the clock? Do I need to be working? What did I forget to turn in? What grave misspelling did I make in a post that will have people emailing me over the weekend?
What does it mean to live and die? How can we trust our perception is our own?
What makes the situation all the more maddening is, again, I think Slack is pretty good! It sure makes communicating with my workmates easier. I pitched this blog over Slack!
But Slack, you can tell people what you do without ensuring that every television spot you pay for doesn’t set off panic bells in the minds of your already loyal user base.
Just a thought! No worries if not!