Voice Overs Of The World: Geico
For this week’s edition of Voice Overs of the World, I wanted to look at a few examples from Geico’s new series of commercials. Geico has long used notable voice over work in their commercials, with their talking gecko campaign a huge hit that ran for several years. In their newest series of ads, various items that cause damage to cars such as tree branches, potholes, and even other cars are brought to life via some clever and well-acted voice overs.
What’s most interesting about the Geico commercial above is that it garnered some national attention in the pages of Parade Magazine just a couple of days ago. Included in most newspapers’ Sunday editions, Parade is one of the most widely read magazines in America. In the Personality Parade section appearing in the January 3rd issue, there was a question and answer about the voice behind the pothole. Here’s what Parade had to say:
“Q: Who is the voice of the pothole in the GEICO commercials?—M.W., Smyrna, Del.
A: We’ve heard a lot of wild guesses: Reese Witherspoon, Annie Potts, Emily Procter—even Britney Spears. Wrong! It’s voice-over actress Dayci Brookshire, 27, whose youthful, enthusiastic tones have landed her a lot of jobs: ‘I’ve played everything from a 5-year-old boy to the talking pothole to a British character, to whatever,’ the native North Carolinian says. Adaptability pays.”
Just goes to show you that all kinds of people are providing voices for commercials these days. Here we have a working voice actor from North Carolina (not New York or Los Angeles) providing the VO for a national commercial, and getting her name exposed to an entire nation of readers thanks to a question in Parade Magazine. Not too shabby.
In the second ad, we have a tree limb brought to life. This is a perfect example of good casting. Who knows what a tree limb might sound like? There were probably a number of delivery styles and voices that would have fit this piece, but I think this one’s a winner. With a somewhat shrill voice and a nondescript New York-type accent, the image of an obnoxious jerk is conjured pretty quickly. That’s only confirmed when the tree limb says, “What, you lookin’ for an apology? Well toss another coin in the wishin’ well, pal.”
Finally, in the third commercial, we get a talking bumper. Like the tree limb above, the bumper is another less-than-upstanding-citizen type character, who quickly tries to cover up how bad the damage from a fender bender is with some disingenuous compliments. This voice seems a little less like the maliciously obnoxious jerk that the tree limb is, and rather more like a simple, not-too bright slob. Rather than the voice giving the impression of a mean personality, the fender comes across more like a drunken sports fan.
What’s interesting about these ads is that they seem to be quite effective. I’ve had more than few conversations lately with people that have started with something like, “Hey, have you seen those Geico ads with the talking cars and stuff?” People seem to be remembering the ads (which is, of course, one of the admakers’ primary goals), and I think most of the credit for that goes right to the voice overs. Visually speaking, the ads don’t offer up a lot; what makes them memorable are the characters created for these inanimate objects thanks to some terrific voice acting.
As a side note, I’m also pretty sure that the voice that comes in at the end of each of the commercials that says, “Accidents are bad,” is Peter Cullen (best known as the voice of Optimus Prime in the Transformers movies and animated series) but I haven’t been able to confirm that yet. To my ears, though, the announcer in these commercials sounds exactly like Cullen, so I’m sticking with that.
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