There has been a shift in the way television commercials format their advertisements. Big companies like Apple and Coke have started a trend where an entire 30 second commercial could have absolutely no voice over save for a short tag at the very end. The sale relies on stunning visuals and complimentary music to keep people watching and leave them wanting whatever product is new to the market. These spots are effective because sound can draw out emotion, and, in my opinion, is the foundation for solid storytelling. If you have seen any of these types of commercials, you will notice the Voice at the end is always a perfect fit. Everything flows together to express the story of the advertisement.
While this may seem like a bad thing for Voice Acting jobs, it is actually the opposite. These brands still need voices, and while bigger companies are relying on this new, mostly visual medium, smaller companies are most likely not going to follow suit. The reason these types of commercials work for the big dogs is because they have an established brand reputation. You know what to expect when you see that check mark logo. Smaller businesses do not have the same staying power. What the little guys are learning, though, is that sound really is everything. These commercials prove that solid sound design enhances the experience buyers have when listening to an ad.
Companies without huge brand recognition still have to rely on some amount of dialogue to sell their products and establish who they are. You want a voice that will express the vibe of your business, and sound design that will keep your advertisements at the forefront of a consumer’s mind. Visuals and sound go hand in hand when telling a story, so investing in quality sound design is incredibly important.
The reason I want to have this discussion is because I have noticed an unfortunate lack of solid sound in many local commercials, especially in radio where it should be the most important. With nothing visual to fall back on, radio spots HAVE to rely on engaging sound quality. Who wants to listen to someone screaming about a local sale or cringe at a jarring noise because the levels were not properly edited? These factors can seriously hurt a brand. If you sound cheap, then that is what potential buyers will assume about your products or service.
Millions of people are in their car for thousands of hours. These potential buyers are at the mercy of their radio. This is a prime area for marketing, so why does it seem to be failing? Personally, I believe it has to do with a lack of audio quality. If you produce commercials people won’t tune away from, you will have a significantly higher chance of retaining listeners and attracting more businesses to market on your station.
I am incredibly passionate about sound design (link to business), and I got my start in radio. I care deeply about the medium and its ability to succeed in telling a story that will keep people coming back for more. Being in the position I am gives me a unique perspective on this issue. My thought is that much of the issue potentially stems from a monetary viewpoint. I recognize that money is not always available to hire professional Voice Artists or Sound Designers, however, I do firmly believe in the concept of Return on Investment. Spending a little more now to truly upgrade your quality can only yield benefits, especially when your entire method of communication relies on the quality of your sound.
The big guys know what they’re doing. If they didn’t, they would not be top of mind for many customers. They get the importance of quality sound design when it comes to representing their brand. Why else would they be moving in a direction that relies on creating an experience with visual and sound alone? To amp up the chance your brand has to connect with your target market, seriously consider investing in sound design guaranteed to put you on top.