Have you ever noticed just how many vehicle commercials there are? We might be watching a major league sports broadcast on TV or online, and when the action pauses during the game, some of the ads we see are often for cars and trucks.
It’s often the same whenever we’re viewing our favorite TV shows, although the diversity of presentation for vehicle ads can vary significantly, and there’s a good reason for that.
Every year, the automotive industry spends a veritable fortune on marketing and advertising campaigns, all carefully researched to precisely reach the demographics they’re aiming for.
Beyond the sleek designs and the high-performance features being showcased, the voices that narrate automotive commercials are pivotal in capturing the hearts (and wallets) of potential buyers. And if those voices aren’t right, consumers are often indifferent to the brand.
Consider the voice behind a car commercial as the sonic identity of the brand. It goes without saying that for any major automotive company, finding the right voice for your brand and products are essential, far beyond the message being conveyed or the script any talented voiceover artist is reading.
The voice narrating an ad can set the mood and tone for an entire marketing campaign, whether it’s a deep and baritone or preppy and energetic, male or female. Likewise, regional dialects can perk up the ears of a specific target audience, grabbing their attention with a familiar sound.
Nevertheless, different kinds of vehicles often require a different voice for presentation, depending on the key attributes of the car or truck, and the most prominent demographics for the marketplace. These are all important attributes that are considered when choosing the voice for an automotive commercial.
The Power of Tone and Pitch
Much like the sound of a vehicle engine, which can vary depending on the make or model, the tone and pitch of a voice talent can make or break a marketing campaign, and there are plenty of great examples.
Think back to the RAM Truck commercials just a few years ago, featuring the iconic voice of American actor Sam Elliott. His unique voice conveyed the tone of a relaxed but experienced cowboy, one that instils confidence this vehicle could be trusted on all kinds of journeys.
Later, the brand took a change of direction, after Jeremy Renner began to narrate the RAM Truck commercials. His voice does feature similar attributes insofar as the masculine tambor and tone, although the delivery style was that of a responsible parent and family man, attuned to the brand’s aim toward pitching their vehicles that particular demographic.
Meanwhile in Canada, the marketing team at Hyundai went with a calm and confident female voice to set the tone of the “We make WAH” commercials, better suiting an emphasis of promoting the “wow” factor across their entire range of vehicles.
Building Emotional Connections
We already know that setting the right tone and pitch can transform a product description, turning it into a captivating brand narrative. But we humans are emotional creatures, and great voice actors are capable of tapping into our thoughts and feelings.
Using just the right vocal pitch to convey differing emotions, touching the very essence of what appeals to diverse automotive consumers in a deeply personal way. Upbeat voices can express the thrill and excitement of speeding along an open road, while parental sounding voices can highlight the safety and security of a family car.
Indeed, highly skilled voice artists can weave stories that will transcend the physical features of a vehicle, resonating with targeted audiences and commanding their attention. Let’s put it this way – a sporty electric hatchback would probably be best voiced by a young and bubbly female, rather than the gravelly deep voice of an older male.
Essentially, hitting the right kind of emotional tone can generate strong emotional connections. A voice that resonates on a personal level is important for automotive commercials, turning potential buyers into lifelong enthusiasts that associate themselves with specific brands, making the choice of voice acting talent priceless in value.
Rhythm and Pacing
Vehicles often have many features and benefits, therefore the rhythm and pacing of narration is both subtle and important. Imagine yourself shifting up or down through the gears when driving a car. It’s the same for a voice actor when they explain product features.
The most skilled voice acting professionals understand when to accelerate their tempo, such as when conveying excitement, and when to slow things down for specific emphasis on key elements the commercial wishes to highlight.
Imagine the need to express joy about performance and color choices, then vocally switching gear to explain safety features with authority and confidence, given that each aspect of the narration will require subtly different vocal tones and pacing.
Such changes in rhythm and pacing are often subtle and quite discreet, and in many respects, they are intended to reflect the smooth and comfortable experience of driving the vehicle being promoted. Alternatively, some voice actors are encouraged to switch their pacing and rhythm in sharper bursts, especially when emphasizing contrasting features in cars.
Capturing Our Aural Attention
Just like any other kind of product or service, automotive brands always dedicate plenty of time and resources to study their ideal market audiences. This is why the choice of voice actors in their commercials goes beyond the basics of clear annunciation, as they aim to pull at our emotional desires with vocal dictation that captivate our minds.
So, the next time you happen to be watching a car commercial, just listen a little more carefully and the rhythm or tone of voice used will immediately become apparent, highlighting which audience the brand is consciously seeking to reach.