You want to be the voice on your own commercial?

It worked for that electric razor guy. He voiced and fronted his own radio commercial. It seems like a good idea at the time. The Sales Person wants you to sign the airtime order and you… we’ll you’re probably where you are in business because you have a bit of an ego and they’ve spotted an opportunity to flatter you the client, stroke your ego and get you to sign. They say “You’ve got a great voice! Why don’t we get you to voice the commercial?”

Just because I can sing a few bars of a song doesn’t mean I want to humiliate myself on the X Factor!!

Frankly there are only a handful of clients who should ever be let near a microphone. You may have a nice voice but it may not be right for the delivery… may not sound good on air, the ads may not be written for your delivery, the station may have a policy not to allow client voiced ads, many clients freeze in front of a microphone (quite common).

Also you think that you will get your ad cheaper because you’re not employing a professional voice artist to voice the ad. Well, I usually charge double. Eeek… why? Because it’s going to take twice, or even 5 times as much time in the studio to voice and edit the audio, that the professional would have given me in one, unedited take.

Some radio stations have a policy of not allowing clients to voice their own commercials, and you will understand why when you hear some of the stations that do allow it. The professional voices used are very skilled at talking to time, talking clearly, not sounding like they are reading, bringing out the main copy points. They are also skilled at getting it right after just a couple of takes. If you have little or no experience it will take you a long time in the studio and time is money. At the end of it you may end up with a radio commercial that the station Programme Controller will not want played on his station.

Now you’re thinking I’m against client voiced commercials? No. I’m not against using the clients voice… it’s just it may be best to use the voice for a small part of the ad… maybe delivering your customer service promise of a tag line? Maybe you DO have the charisma to deliver the ad… like Victor Kiam. But you need to work really hard… first to get commercials written that you can deliver, and time spent in the studio to get it right. In Newcastle in the late 1980’s there was the phenomenon that was Mr. Rahman. An elderly Hindi gentleman that voiced his own commercials. They were famous… and he even was used to make announcements at Newcastle United for a while. But every sentence he said had to be edited and painstakingly put together to make his ads.

So take the advice of your writer or the station’s commercial producer. Perhaps voice just a couple of lines? Perhaps there is someone who could be your “voice” or perhaps rather than use your voice we could develop a character? There are a handful of clients who voice their radio commercials very successfully, but for every one that does there are a couple of dozen that sound dreadful on air and don’t do themselves any favours.

The real question is why do you want to voice the commercial? Is it because you want your friends to hear you on the radio station or is there a good, solid business reason. If there is, communicate it to the writer and see whether he or she comes up with.

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