So, it helps to have talent. Obvi, as my kid would say. (Insert age appropriate eye roll here) And a few technical things too, like training, practice and timing. But more than that, the secret sauce in how to make spectacular commercial voiceovers is a recipe of love, understanding and respect. Let me break this down.
Love the ad
Since I was a little girl, talking to myself in the mirror, telling myself about Scope or Crest or Johnson’s Baby Shampoo I have loved ads. I started out loving them more than cartoons Like the horrified text books used to predict, I couldn’t tell the difference between these mini-movies and regular programming. To me they seemed as entertaining as the cartoons (that I would also imitate). I don’t think you can do ads justice unless you do love them. If you don’t try to figure out why. Which brings me to the next insight.
Understand the ad
The voiceover often drives home the message of the ad. It shows who speaks for the brand and reflects the sound and image the company wants to portray. Few ads cling to an authority to present their info, more often the voiceover represents some cool new fact the average Jane or Joe is passing on to the average friend, namely, you. I think it’s also important not just to understand the ad you’re working on but seek understanding about ads in general. Why do we need them? Why are they important?
Respect the ad
Ads have incredible power. They stay with you, infiltrate your childhood, linger as jingles and catch phrases in your memory (“Got milk?” “Where’s the beef?”) And of course, they influence our buying behaviour, and our culture. Marshall McLuhan said advertising was the greatest art form of the 20th century. And while ads constantly change, morphing into something more palatable to millennials, who do not trust anything that smacks of sell not tell, they will survive. They will adapt. They will evolve. After all, they are the brainchildren of one of the most adaptable creatures on earth, right?
Want a sample of what I’m talking about?
Here’s an ad I find easy to love, respect and understand. In the middle, it features my voiceover for the product, a cold medicine. The production company is Molio, a kickin’ it creative company in the MidWest. These people turn ads on their elbows and create serious entertainment. And their client was cool enough to buy into their concept. This is what I call winning in advertising.
Fun, with a capital F, right? It’s longer than a regularly formatted ad, but that’s ok. Fewer and fewer people are watching regularly formatted programming now anyway. It’s a mini-movie complete with a love triangle and bloopers at the end. It accomplishes what the best advertising sets out to do. It entertains, it makes you laugh, or smirk at the very least and it gets you to associate their product with the fun and the story. They’re not selling here. They’re telling. In a totally artful way.
Aren’t you lovin’ it?