The Commercial Read:
Winning the hearts and minds of your audience
by Bobbin Beam
Emotionally connecting with the target audience should be the primary objective of the successful commercial. So any commercial audition should be prepared with this fact in mind. So how does one accomplish such a feat, when, aside from the writing and production of an ad, voice actors have no control over content, editing and music in the final production mix. The voice talent must realize he/she must build that connection and catch the listener’s attention. The stakes are very high. Let’s imagine a national TV campaign, class A spots, where the media buys are being invested to the tune of millions and facial coding and focus groups are used to determine an ad’s effectiveness.
What’s in Your Toolbox?
What do you have to work with? The script, of course. If you successfully engage with the words to ensure that the ad resonates with as many listeners as possible; that is the ultimate goal. It might also help to do some homework, by taking time to research to the client and/or product, and understand the mindset of the target demographic.
So what’s the story? The voiceover artist must deliver the specific message to the audience in a clear and concise way. Another way of improving the clarity of a message is to carefully choose one’s delivery, the attitude, pace, and pitch and volume that stays true to your sound.
Like with conversation, a script read without personality or that actually sounds like it is being read lacks appeal. And there is a fine line between having personality and distracting from the gist of the ad. It is often difficult to keep the message in the delivery on the right side of this fine line.
Avoid the overuse of personality that may drown the message. Too much humor or drama in the read can sound forced and hard for listeners to relate to and they’ll mentally tune out. Trying too hard to inject personality into an ad can be just as damaging as having no personality at all.
Mix it up!
Using contrast in delivery can often draw in the attention of listeners to the ad. Be mindful that the execution of a read for a radio spot will be very different than that for television. Remember that radio is theater of the mind and can sport sound effects, brand music and sometimes other voiceover that may be competing with other ambient noise or conversation, whereas in TV spots, there’s a picture story being told and yours is the “voice under” the video, and is more like that of a narrator.
It is essential to give the auditor a reason to listen to your vocal delivery to book the job. Chances are, they’ll listen to the first 6-10 seconds of your audition. Your delivery has to have the edge to get through, to ultimately appear amongst the sea of different ads that listeners are bombarded with daily.
This is best achieved by building that emotional connection with the listener in a simple and concise manner. Voice actors who can successfully convey a story, and the intent in a script with intonation and realism will connect with the audience, because the listener won’t feel like or realize they are “being sold”. And that is what helps make for the success of the ad campaign, and what books the voice talent the job.