Voice Overs Of The World: Sense Of Wonder
For this week’s Voice Overs Of The World, I wanted to look at a few different ads that all do one thing considerably well: convey a sense of wonder. Each of these three advertisements would have been portrayed in a more traditional announcer-style voice just 20 years ago, but as we’ve moved to the conversational style of delivery in voice overs, each of these pieces’ delivery has evolved as well. In each commercial, the voice over at work doesn’t try to just convey hard, cold facts. Instead, they try to fill you with a sense of wonder at the technology or product involved, even though they’re for such simple products as carpeting, bird food, and heating/cooling systems.
In the first ad above, a visually stylish piece for SmartStrand Carpets, the female narrator evokes a sense of wonder form the very first words, “Something extraordinary is happening.” With a breathy tone and a slow pace, she heightens the “suspense” of the piece, as you wonder how all these various living room disasters are going to end. Notice the music that underscores the voice over is also very ethereal and atmospheric, heightening the mood of the piece. Even when she switches gears at the end of the commercial to pitch the product in a more traditional way (“Get a lifetime of built-in protection from Smartstrand with Dupont Sorona, only from Mohawk”), the delivery remains soft, slow, and breathy, rather than switching to a more announcer-type style, even though it culd have been done using the same voice.
Also notice that, although a non-slow-motion mom appears at the end of the commercial, chances are extremely low that the actress that appears on camera is the same actress performing the voice over.
In the Scott’s Songbird bird food commercial above, we find a very similar approach. The male voice actor shares how Scott’s food “attracted twice as many colorful birds as ordinary blends.” And much like in the SmartStrand commercial above, the dialogue in this piece lets you know right off the bat that Scott’s has “discovered something amazing.” But it’s the narrator’s slow, soft and pleasant delivery that really tells the tale. What I like about his approach is how he sounds almost a little surprised by the results, as if to convey that even Scott’s themselves didn’t realize how good their bird food was until they tested it. I’m sure the company strongly believes in its product, but by keeping the voice over sounding just a little bit surprised, it makes the company come across as humble and unassuming, something which seems to me would appeal to many bird watchers.
In the final commercial, for Mitsubishi Electric Heating and Cooling, the company takes an interesting approach to something that could easily be considered mundane: HVAC systems. But the company wants to liken their product to traveling the world and going to exotic locales where the air quality is pure, crisp and clean. The visual imagery is clearly paramount in the spot, but the voice over is like liquid wonder. In fact, it’s used sparingly, but it is extremely effective. Once again, atmospheric and ethereal music contributes to the overall mood of the piece. Interestingly, in this spot, the producers chose a voice with a vaguely European accent, and I think the vagary of the accent is 100% on purpose. This is a spot meant to make you feel as if you are journeying far across the globe to places untouched by man. With an accent that’s not clearly defined, the voice over adds to the entire commercial’s worldly feel, completing the effectiveness and exoticness of the piece.
I find all three of these ads to be extremely effective in their own right, but the expertly-cast and perfectly delivered voice overs in each one really cement each commercial’s sense of wonder.
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