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Speaking Up: The Voice-Over
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Advertising changed forever the moment pictures were given life. Television ads have helped brands give their products and services the life and personality often lacking in print and radio. As technology developed more, we see brands moving from TV to online and digital video, and the growth in those areas has been more than impressive.

As we have talked about time and again, humans are visual creatures. Seeing vivid pictures and images move and interact with others makes our brains connect with objects and concepts faster than the alternatives. Brands spend a lot of time creating the right video or TV ad. The ad or video is meant to showcase or remind consumers about the brand's image. How the ads look and feel, how they grab the consumer's attention, are all important factors.

And so is the voice of the ad.

We want to highlight the importance of the voice-over. A voice-over is supposed to provide information that may not be entirely presented in the visual aspects of the ad. The voice-over can also provide the voice or persona the brand wants the consumer to imagine. The brand should use a voice-over that is not separate from its target market. 

We want to highlight two examples of brands effectively engaging in this type of advertising.

Example 1: Ram 1500, "Driven"

At the moment of writing this article, iSpot TV indicates that the ad was last played on ESPN during one of the NCAA Bowl games. The ad, done by RAM and The Richards Group, attempted to match the voice-over with their desired target market — tough, “driven” men who need a truck. It shows men who like the outdoors, have hobbies (from caring for a motorcycle to perhaps watching and loving football), and engage in things that could make having a truck worthwhile. The deep voice of Sam Elliott indicates a certain toughness, wisdom, and masculinity that fits the imagery of the ads. Though the description of the ad says a "perfect truck for everyone," the ad is clearly showing that the truck isn't for everyone.

Example 2: Coors Banquet "The Banquet Beer"

In the rise of craft beer, some people like to avoid all the different choices and rely on beers that have stood the test of time. This ad, again featuring Sam Elliott, reflects that kind of no-nonsense, traditional type of positioning. One can tell immediately that Coors and the Initiative wanted to hit on tradition when the ad started with, "When you put your name on something, it means something." That phrase is totally geared towards men, since it is traditionally more masculine to have your last name placed on something to establish ownership. Though times are changing, men still consider having a credible name to be important. Clearly targeting an older audience, showing older gentlemen enjoying the beer, Coors and Elliott did a solid job positioning themselves to be a traditional beer for traditional men. At the time of writing this article, iSpot TV says that this ad was ran during a "Tanked: Unfiltered" episode. Elliott's voice again was used, probably to indicate that wisdom factor with a conservative nature or tone along with it.

Here are two brands with similar target markets using similar positioning with the same voice of actor Sam Elliott. We will not call it "copy-catting," but both campaigns seem to know what works for their target audiences. It would not be hard to imagine that a RAM 1500 buyer could also be seen buying a 12-pack of Coors Banquet.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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