Inside Scoop: What Ad People Want in a Retail Voiceover

Inside Scoop: What Ad People Want in a Retail Voiceover

lottery jackpot sign commercial retail voiceoverVoice actors dream of scoring the elusive national TV voiceover ad…all markets, double scale, with buyout. While that may be the Powerball of VO, give me a solid faithful weekly retail client any day and I’ll be a happy voice over actor.


In fact, my happy meter has been set fairly high over the years. A 20+ year stint as the voiceover brand for a regional pharmacy, a decade as the voice of several national L’Oreal, Milk and Hershey products and a couple of five year packs as the voice of various grocery and clothing chains kept me in studio, on air and able to write “working voice actor” on my tax forms.


50's Mom serving platter retail voiceover narrationCurrently, I’m the weekly voice of “Average Consumer Gal” for a grocery chain.  While waiting for approval in their studio for a couple of spots recently, I spoke with the account coordinator,  and copywriter of the campaign about the importance of retail ads from their perspective.


KH: So, why are retail ads important?

AC: Retail target market are for the average everyone, families, with or without kids, women and men. People who listen to radio in the morning, on the way to work or getting kids to school. Our ads are like a print flyer, part of the essential package to show weekly offers.


CW: I’d say it’s a way of communicating with the consumer en masse as opposed to telemarketing.


KH: What makes a smart retail ad?


CW: It tells a story. It engages. There’s a clear beginning, middle, and end as opposed to one that’s not so good, which might be beginning, beginning, beginning….


KH, AC, CW: (laughter)


CW: I’m very critical of the writing. I like to hear good use of words that don’t repeat. Not that I’m the Grammar police. (chuckles) But the first level of retail is promo, the second layer is art. The story is what will draw someone in. Then humor – humor in advertising always works.


KH: True. How are retail ads different from other work you do?


AC: It’s consumer facing. And it’s important to realize retail is about spending money. It was the bread and butter of the old industry, but it’s slowly beginning to have a new sheen. Retail is like the spine of advertising.


KH: What do you look for in hiring talent for retail ads?


AC: Sometimes a spokesperson can be important for the brand. Someone who makes brand friendlier. They don’t sell products per se. But people hear the voice and associate it with the brand.


CW: For me, there’s also a sense of intimacy in voice I look for. The human element. That’s key.



retail therapy sign commercial voiceover Kim HandysidesI agree. We need to be human. Show our frailties, foibles and pulchritude in 30 seconds or less. Give them just a peak of your freak. Maybe that’s why I’ve had success as a spokesperson for several retail campaigns.


It’s storytelling in commercials and touching on our day to day humanity. In the moment we’re about to buy, our retail decisions are very important. We’ve all been there. We can all relate. In approaching a retail script, I often put myself in the position of the harried parent or young career woman who’s stretching every dollar and looking for ways to save on dinner or deodorant so I can use those savings on something else that will make me and my loved ones happier, healthier.


Happy, healthy you. Happy, healthy loved ones.

Isn’t that what all the important things boil down to?




  1. Monique 3 years ago

    Great insight! Becoming the person in the ad definitely helps your audience connect with your ad. As they say, we never sell, we solve a problem.

    • Author
      Kim Handysides 3 years ago

      Thanks Monique! I love that reference – problem solving. Absolutely!

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