I recently had the pleasure of doing voice over work for a Kleenex commercial that touches on all the emotions that people are experiencing during these challenging times.
While the commercial doesn’t specifically mention COVID-19, it paints a clear picture of #AllTheFeelings that we’re collectively experiencing in this unprecedented moment: uncertainty, grief, sadness, but also happiness to help others, gratitude for good heath, strength and hope for better times ahead.
This commercial is a great example of why it’s so important to choose the right voice actor – and the right voice – to make the message as powerful as it can be.
So, I want to talk about what makes this voice over so effective and how the same techniques can be applied to other ads and messages.
The Kleenex commercial was cast and produced using traditional voiceover methods and structures. This includes the use of an agent vs. an online casting site.
There are many ways to do a voice over. Understanding how to do a voice over, according to the specific needs of the project, is what separates a professional voice-over actor from the less experienced. It requires an in-depth analysis of the client’s needs, a voice actor’s studio setup, the tone of the voice-over copy and the overall object / call to action.
The Kleenex commercial required a voice actor to have a soft and caring voice. As an urban voice over talent that has a similar sound and personality as that of a black voice actor with a deep voice / vocal range, I knew exactly how to approach it.
From the heart
There are a number of factors that make this Kleenex commercial successful. The visuals, music and copy all play a role in capturing the emotions expressed by the ad, and in expressing empathy (i.e. showing that Kleenex cares and understands what you’re going through).
But without the right voice, the entire message could be spoiled. For example, if the voice sounded too gimmicky, cheesy or harsh, it would change the entire tone of the commercial.
To be effective, the voice needed to be soft, caring, empathetic and relatable. It needed to be genuine and from the heart.
A voice of reason and wisdom
What is voice over depth, and how does it affect the message being expressed here?
You may assume that a deep voice doesn’t gel with a soft and caring message – but actually the opposite is true.
Having a deep voice doesn’t mean it needs to sound extremely authoritative. Sometimes, a deep voice is essential for expressing warmth and comfort coming from a place of experience. The human experience.
When you listen to my voice over in the Kleenex commercial, you can hear how that deep tone is more advantageous as it helps to comfort the viewer, while also sounding like it could be someone you know: a friend, a father, a voice of reason, a loved one who’s by your side to get you through these difficult times.
PRO TIP: When doing kind and soft voice overs, one should try to always come from an empathetic place. In addition to the voice, the use of an undertone of soft music during the voice over session can be extremely beneficial in bringing out the warmth in tone.
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