Tim McLarty is a Toronto based voice and on camera talent, writer, producer and ad strategy expert. He has been a professional voice talent since 1980 with over 12 radio stations to his credit. In the late 80s and 90s he produced an internationally syndicated comedy series called Willy's Comedy Shack and Burger Emporium. Today his voice, visuals and creative can be heard and seen across Canada and on the web.
You have a shiny new radio commercial. But it’s only as good as its’ audience. There are 3 important factors when choosing what station(s) your commercial will air on.
There’s an old expression “Make sure you have enough noise makers to make it a real party.” That’s a very simplified way of saying you should have sufficient budget to make the splash your commercial deserves to achieve its’ desired results.
A common philosophy and one we exercise regularly here is to make sure you “own” the station or stations you choose to go with for your buy. It’s better to take a modest budget and dominate one station than spread your money amongst too many stations and not achieve effective exposure on any.
When buying radio there are three factors. Reach, frequency and cost per point.
Reach is the number of prospects that will likely hear your commercial. Frequency is the average number of times your potential customer will actually hear your commercial. Cost per point is the benchmark for evaluating the cost effectiveness. It’s the cost to reach 1 percent of your target audience.
The rule of thumb is to buy enough frequency to ensure your commercial is heard several times.
Often a radio station will have a feature such as Coach Time where the coach of a local team is interviewed at the same time each day. Buy paying a modest premium your product receives association and brand enhancement by that direct association, provided your product is a natural fit for the feature you’re purchasing.
At certain times of the year, radio stations will have a glut of inventory and play with the rate card price. Your product may benefit from buying more spots during these slow times provided your product is desired at that time of the year.
In addition to sponsorships, billboards often accompany your commercial. “The 6 o’clock news is brought to you by Aamco. Better transmissions. Better mechanics.”
Know your station
Some station have a large number of listeners listening for a very short period of time. You’ll want to ensure you’ve bought enough frequency to ensure you catch those listeners as they pop in and out of the station you have chosen. In Toronto we have 680News where people tune in by the thousands on the 1’s to hear the traffic and weather together. Then they’ll pop back to the music format they were listening to. By going heavy on a station like 680 you’re able to talk to a wide grouping of listeners from various radio stations.
If you have a youth oriented product with a definite younger skew it would make sense to simply buy the station that leads in that demographic.
Buying radio involves part numbers and part gut instinct but when you combine logic and proven formulas it generally means a radio buy that achieves the goals of proper reach and frequency.
Occasionally you’ll hear a voice on a television commercial and think, gee that voice sounds awful familiar. It’s probably because you’ve spent countless hours hearing that voice attached to an actor from a movie you’ve enjoyed. It shows the incredible perceptiveness of your hearing and how it’s attached to the importance of branding. You don’t even know who it is, but it already has ripped through the first layer of defence mechanism to where you are paying more attention to that ad.
And that’s what it’s all about right? The right voice, the right feel, the right copy; it connects to the consumer in an emotional way. And the consumer, not even realizing, makes a mental note that connects them with that brand.
Here’s a great article covering 11 current actors you might not realize are part of the voiceover actor community.
Article Original author Kate Erbland of Mental Floss
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to skip over all those pesky (and loud!) television commercials during your favorite programs, but that hasn’t stopped some of the country’s biggest corporations and organizations from pulling out the big guns when it comes to voiceover talent. Consider it a nifty little trick to capture your interest and attention—after all, what better way to keep your finger off the remote than the nagging sense that you’ll be able to figure out who is squawking at you to buy a truck or a hamburger or some investment product if only you could listen just a bit longer?
So which famous actors and actresses have stepped up to the mic to record words on fancy cars, cozy restaurants, and even toilet paper? You might be surprised.
1. JOHN CUSACK – CHEVROLET
Cusack came on board as the car company’s main (voice) man back in February, when he replaced another actor, Tim Allen, as the voice o’ Chevy. The Say Anything actor might not be the obvious choice to pontificate on “a man and his truck and also a little calf and rain and the outdoors and a broken fence,” but goshdangit, Cusack lends some serious gravitas to a strangely emotional 30-second spot. Will that little lost calf be okay? If Cusack is narrating it, it looks like we’re in the clear.
2. JON HAMM – MERCEDES BENZ
The only surprising thing about actor Jon Hamm giving voice to the luxury lifestyle of Mercedes Benz is that more high profile brands haven’t begged him to do the same thing. Sure, he’s got the smooth and sexy tones of the finest voiceover talents, but he also comes with the added weight of his Mad Men tenure. If a guy who makes his car-purchasing dollars by starring on a show about the finest advertising that money can buy is willing to stump foryour product, that’s one heck of an endorsement. The best or nothing indeed.
3. JASON SUDEIKIS – APPLEBEE’S
Applebee’s may style itself as your friendly neighborhood restaurant (so friendly and neighborhood-y that you can find the exact same joint in other towns around the country!), but that doesn’t mean they skimp on voiceover talent used to tout their affordable fare. Former SNL funnyman Jason Sudeikis may be the current voice of Applebee’s (and his sardonic attitude really works for sandwich-selling, strange as that may seem), but the restaurant chain has used plenty of other high profile talent in the past, including both John Corbett and Wanda Sykes.
4. MORGAN FREEMAN – VISA
Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman may be best known for his “voice of God” roles on the big screen, but he’s also used his voice talents for a handful of ads for Visa and the NFL. The velvet-voiced thespian might sound like an odd choice for the spunky commercials, but he still manages to add sophistication and pep to otherwise raucous and relatively straightforward ads.
5. MATT DAMON – TD AMERITRADE
Online broker TD Ameritrade has been going for whimsy in their latest set of ads, and an upbeat Matt Damon is on hand (on voice?) to add a warm familiarity to the commercials. He might not be instantly recognizable, but once you know it’s the Good Will Hunting star, it’s impossible not to hear his slight Boston lilt in every commercial. Why no one has thought to dispatch Damon for a series of Apple commercials, we’ll never know.
6. JOHN CORBETT – WALGREENS
While he may be best remembered to a certain subset of Sex and the City fans as the dude Carrie Bradshaw should have ended up with, John Corbett has spent his post-SATC years carving out a hearty voiceover career. The former voice of Applebee’s is now the voice of another major chain, Walgreens. Similar to his work for Applebee’s, everyman Corbett is tasked with making Walgreens seem neighborhood-y and friendly—in his world, it’s located at “the corner of happy and healthy.”
7. LISA KUDROW – YOPLAIT
Jamie Lee Curtis may be the face of Dannon’s Activia yogurt, but former Friend Lisa Kudrow gives her a real run for her probiotics as the voice of Yoplait. Kudrow’s yogurt ads are zippy, fun, and fresh—not something people usually associate with boring old yogurt. The familiarity of Kudrow’s upbeat voice keeps things moving along and, oops!, now you’ve bought, just like, a lot of yogurt.
8. ANTONIO BANDERAS – NASONEX
It’s one of the weirdest continuing commercials on the tube today—a crudely animated series of ads that feature Antonio Banderas and his sexy accent as the voice of a bee who is shilling for allergy medicine. Nasonex’s ads are almost too weird to work, and yet they appear to, simply thanks to the unshakeable recognizability of their bee-voice. Banderas? More like Beederas.
9. ZACH BRAFF – COTTONELLE
Actor/writer/director/Grammy winner (true fact!) Zach Braff has frequently thrown his talents into the commercial ring, giving voice to such products as Pur water filters and Wendy’s fast food, along with his continuing gig as the voice of a puppy in Cottonelle’s toilet paper ads. Like Banderas, Braff’s commercial voiceover isn’t confined to simple narration; he’s also tasked with embodying a strange, seemingly unrelated animal mascot. At least the puppy is cute?
10. ALLISON JANNEY – KAISER PERMANENTE
We would happily listen to actress Allison Janney’s voice all day, and if that means tuning in for Kaiser Permanente commercials, we’ll do it. Who else could possibly sound so soothing, so knowledgeable, and so appropriately chipper while chattering about something as confusing and upsetting as health care coverage?
11. JOHN KRASINKSI – ESURANCE
Another shockingly perfect pairing? Hollywood’s most adorable doofball and car insurance. Figuring out how to insure your vehicle can be a headache and a half, but when John Krasinski pops up on your television to tout the merits of Esurance, it suddenly seems entirely doable. Krasinski has done ads for a whole mess of products, including Kodak, Ask.com, Puma, Apple TV, and Carnival Cruises. If Krasinski is selling it, we’re buying.
In a world. Yes you probably had no idea how many times you heard Hal Douglas’ voice. He was one of the “movie trailer voice guys”. There is a movie out now called “In a world” that brilliantly parodies this whole genre of voiceover style. But let’s face it. It works. It lifts up a story and makes it sound like it’s worth seeing, buying or experiencing.
Here’s a very funny sample of a parody starring the late Hal Douglas himself.
Many a day I spent pushing tape back and forth on two reels to cue up a cut, master some audio, or splice a contest winner during the on air days. Getting that curse word closely cut out with a razor blade an angled splice block was a race against time but it was never boring.
There was something organic and pure about pulling up a fresh pancake of tape and recording something on to it which, at the time, we felt would be forever.
Obviously time and temperature have not been kind to that content and most of the valuable material has been digitally remastered. Having said that, I still have a basement full of reels that still need saving. Hopefully it’s not too late. Here’s a great article shared by fellow radio aficionado Christ Seguin.
The one thing that has kept radio alive has been the local factor. Radio covers what’s happening right in your city. Online radio choices are quickly lining up and once they determine the importance of programming directly to local IP addresses, that version of radio may be as powerful as Google adwords. The difference? Choosing a radio stream is a very personal decision and to date there have been so many players the power of mounting the masses has not proven possible. The requirements of passing FCC or CRTC criteria to have the privilege of broadcasting to the public is not relevant. So anyone from little Johnny sitting in his basement to large media giants can hang out their shingle and pronounce themselves online radio stations. Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and now iTunes Radio are all ready to do battle. Who will win? Whoever puts live bodies into the local trenches. Just like the radio of old, a personality in your face, at the super market opening, the local movie premiere, the ribbon cutting of the new highway or at the local rec centre will win over glitzy, anonymous digital signals that are only as good as the blend of hits that resonates with the listener who is as fickle as they come. But a digital station that actually sends a personality out into the community to humanize the medium? Old school is not so old after all.
Digital is not analog. We’ve heard that time and again. I see 20 somethings lining up on Queen street in Toronto on a Saturday to buy a turntable. Then they run up the street to a record shop, yes a record shop, to buy vinyl and play it on their brand new turn table. I remember in my disc jockey days saying a huge thank you to the skies when I was finally able to retire vinyl and slide in that shiny disc or music cartridge and not worry about dropping the album on the ground and backing my chair over it. Of course I still managed to do that on a CD disc once. Funny how those things stick in your mind thirty years later. But why the love of analog by gen X and beyond? Because they hear the difference. The warmth of analog. The music is recorded and engineered closer to the performance, not digitized into ones and zeros. An audiophile will tell you, just put on the headphones, close your eyes and listen to the difference.
Here’s an article from the Toronto Star that further hammers home the case for analog.
My passion for radio started long before I’d ever heard of Stan Freberg or the term “boss jock”. Both play an important role in the history that is radio. As did Jack Benny, Mel Blanc, Bob Hope, and more recently Jerry Stiller and Dick and Bert. Dick is still alive producing radio out of California.
I started RadioRadio while I was still doing on air work at Q107, and Y95 in Hamilton. It was fun then. It’s still fun today. When production creative house RadioRadio started in 1990 it was more or less the pre-internet era. Yes, Al Gore supposedly invented the internet light years ago. But in 1990 we were still sending reel to reel tapes and cassettes around by Purolator and bike courier.
We were doing in person casting sessions where people would actually come to your studio and “drop off a tape”. Or do live auditions. Sure it still happens today, but long after the digital download demo has been pre-screened. A few months ago I did a completely live, digital Skype session with me in Toronto and the talent in Montreal. That concept has been around for a while, but not without the use of Zephyr boxes and a lot of extraneous gear.
RadioRadio was an early adopter of the web. We had our first website in 1996 with large, cumber sum audio files. You would click download and come back after lunch to listen. Thanks to the Wayback Machine web archive we can see snapshots of those early websites and wonder how we ever got away with that.
Although the tools are much better today, the process stays the same. A great idea, a bit of timing, the perfect words and sound effects and poof …the magic happens.