It’s seldom that a voice talent becomes famous or even known by name. A couple that come to mind are Mel Blanc, probably the greatest cartoon voice guy ever (Bugs Bunny et all) and Don LaFontaine. You’ve heard his work. He invented and popularized the movie trailer genre that generated so much excitement about new movies by saying, “In a world….” Yeah, that guy.
Long after LaFontaine’s death, we still hear the impact of his work each time a new show is announced on TV. Of course, the guys doing television imaging aren’t as good as LaFontaine and most of them seem to be trying too hard. They’re all using that low, whispery, baritone gravel voice that drags the trailing end of a phrase out too long and sounds like they are trying to sneak up on you. It’s gotten out of hand and it’s really annoying. Just tell me what the show is and I may watch it. Your sneaky, scary, over-excited and over-acted voice will have zero effect on whether I watch a show or not.
Believe me, I understand and appreciate the value of good voiceover work as much as the next guy. I don’t want to be one of those guys that quotes studies but studies have shown that an ad with a British voice can be forty percent more effective in an American market. Not surprisingly, an American accent does the same in a British market. I get it, the right voice can make a big difference. A British accent is good for perfume, fashion or jewelry. Toilet paper, not so much. I don’t care if you do use some cute euphemism in reference to a person’s posterior. Calling an ass a “bum” doesn’t make it any more pleasant to hear about your product wiping it.
We’re all so used to having Sam Elliot sell us trucks that we have become conditioned to believe that anything manly has to be presented with a deep bass voice. It worked well for Ram Trucks but Firestone failed miserably with their ads. They intended to convey a sense of masculine identity associated with their auto parts. Instead, the male voice talent adopted a vocal affectation that sounded forced, creating a cartoonish, caricature of what was supposed to be a manly voice. He added too much spice and ruined the chile. It’s not like cowbell. You can never have too much cowbell.
I don’t do a lot of voiceover work any more. Most of what I did was during the time that my radio show was still on the air and sponsors would ask me to do their commercials. Even though I have closed my production company and scaled my studio back by quite a bit, I am still very active in making fun of advertising that deserves it. Won’t you join me? Toss in a comment about the ads that bug you and while you have your fingers on the keyboard don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. More later, TTFN.