A Trip down Memory Lane
From Jiffy to Juicy Fruit, from sad and sappy commercials of the 80’s, to loud and bright Old Navy and iPod Commercials of the 2000’s. Something we can all agree on; those were memorable commercials.
What makes a commercial memorable? Could it be the product itself? Most likely not. It’s usually the way the product or service was advertised, how it caught our attention and how it was forever ingrained in our grey matter. Perhaps they used a song, a funny character, or a memorable Voice Over. Whatever it is, decades of marketing research and psychology go into making it memorable, and more importantly, leading to sales.
Voice Over is one major aspect of that process. Why? Because we are all human! And listening to a voice that speaks to our mind, heart and soul really does make a difference in buying power. In a world surrounded by A.I., there’s just something about the human voice that truly makes personal connections. Maybe it makes us laugh, pulls on our heart strings, but whatever it is, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Why Has it Changed?
The style of Voice has really changed over the years. When many think of Commercial Voice Over, they think of a loud, boomy voice screaming “This deal won’t last long, buy now before it’s too late!” But is that what we hear nowadays? Not likely. Haven’t you noticed the style of voice has been majorly toned down over the years. Do a test, and listen to 5-10 commercials the next time you turn on the tube and mentally note the style, gender and tone of voice speaking to you. It’s pretty interesting what you’ll note! Why could that be? Because, never before in history have humans had so much information delivered to us at lightening speed. From the moment we open our eyes in the morning and grab our phone, turn on the TV, listen to Alexa telling us our upcoming schedule, tune on the car radio, switch on our work computers, there’s no shortage of information coming at us. Don’t you find it gets just a little tiring? Well, that’s exactly why the majority of Commercial voices that speak to us, aren’t “selling” us anymore, they’re simply “telling” us about the product, allowing us to make our own buying decision. We have the power, not the brand.
Oddly enough you’ll notice the most expensive commercials on TV, have the least “Selly/Announcer“ voices, and the local or inexpensive commercials do. Think Big Bank commercials vs. Joe’s Buy and Sell ones. Can you hear a difference?
A Newbie’s Guide to Commercial V.O.
When I got started in Voice Over, I was a victim of the Announcer read as they call it. I wanted to yell, shout and use lots of inflection in my voice. It was a rude-awakening when my coaches told me to stop projecting, get close to the mic and just speak like I’m talking to my best friend over coffee about this “cool new thing” I discovered that’s the CONVERSATIONAL read!! Trust me, it wasn’t easy. It took some time to get used to that, but the more I observed television and the radio, the easier it got.
Nailing the Conversational Read!
This took me awhile to understand. Isn’t all Voice Over Conversational? Nope! It’s hard to sound like you’re NOT reading when you ARE reading! This is where the old adage “Practice makes (almost) perfect” comes to play. When speaking on the phone, or to friends, and in business meetings we don’t speak perfectly. We flub up. We speak quickly, then slowly. We might stutter here, and there and use various inflections. That’s the art of the Conversational read. Look at actors! They too don’t read their lines perfectly, they use those little nuances to keep the performance as real as possible. It’s the same in Voice Over.
Is the Announcer Read Gone Forever?
The important aspect of a good Voice Actor is the ability to perform all styles. Just because Announcer reads aren’t the fad right now, it doesn’t mean they won’t ever come back. You’ll still notice them around, but they’re usually tongue-in-cheek and over-bearing on purpose. I like to hear it, it makes me laugh, especially in pizza commercials.
My Line of Work:
In my line of work I perform a multitude of styles of Commercial work. Generally speaking, Conversational reads are still king, but I have played the Announcer role as well as Warm and Empathetic, (think Non-profit), Millennial (think Whole Foods), Anthemic (think Banks), Quirky and Sarcastic, (think Tech) Luxurious (think expensive cars) and many more.
I truly don’t have one favourite over another. I love the fact that every day is never the same, one moment I could be playing a character and the next I could be doing an empathic read. It’s more fun that way right? Truly, the product or service will provide the foundation for the style of read, and it’s up to the Actor to discern the style and deliver to job.
It would be great to collaborate with your team in achieving your desired style and tone. Feel free to drop me a line and we can discuss that perfect voice for your next commercial! 🙂
Looking forward to working with you!