Radio advertising executive Ralph van Dijk has established a new company specialising in voiceover work, claiming there are not enough voices in the market, and that audio branding is not taken seriously enough.
The founder of audio agency Eardrum says voices heard on radio and television are largely clichéd, and wants to offer clients a more diverse range with a new division of Eardrum called Earcasting.
“Agencies spend tens of thousands of dollars and many hours working on the visual aspect of making an ad, but they will spend half an hour in the studio recording the voice track that took them 20 minutes to cast,” he said.
“At the very least they’re missing a trick and potentially damaging the brand. Most brands will have extensive guidelines dictating how their visual brand is to be used, but most haven’t given any thought to how their brand sounds. We can find a voice that we believe is unique to a brand in the same way as their brand has a visual identity.”
Van Dijk, who will this year chair the jury for radio ads at the Cannes Lions, said he was not criticising the actual talent, but the process.
“It’s laziness from the advertising industry, using the same people on various campaigns,” he said. “Ninety per cent of voice work is done by five per cent of the actors who do voice work. The majority of the time they are used because they are safe – a little bit Aussie friendly. But there’s no distinctive character to them. You’ll hear the same voice for Vodafone, a beer brand or BMW.”
Advertisers and agencies are also too quick to change voices, leading to confusion among listeners and viewers, van Dijk argues.
He says once a brand has an established voice, it should be applied across all audio touch points including websites, telephone recorded messages and in-store.
“Many companies have several audio touch points but use different voices for each one. They would never dream of doing that with their visual brand identity, so why should it be any different with their brand sound? Earcasting will allow agencies and production companies to treat voice casting in the same way they treat on-camera casting. They’ll be able to choose from a selection of distinctive, skilled actors from around the country and the world and we have affiliates in the UK and US.”
He said the agency will be able to help brands secure distinct and well-known voices.
“For instance people they had never heard of or thought were too famous – like Robert Downey Jnr who is on the Nissan campaign – or too difficult to track down.”
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