Celebrities have been known to endorse products or services by means of voice-overs, sometimes coupled with on-camera acting. While celebrities have notoriety and influence, their reputations from their acting careers or choices made in the public eye may also carry certain connotations or excess baggage that is not intended to coincide with the advertiser’s marketing pitch.
Research by the University of Washington and Rice University suggest TV commercials featuring unfamiliar voice-overs are the most effective.
The study determined that when consumers didn’t recognize the voice actor, they were more likely to listen to the message without judging the voice actor or their background.
When audiences heard famous actors performing voice-overs in commercials, their opinions of the product were based upon whether they liked the celebrities or disliked them. For example, viewers who liked David Duchovny responded more favourably to brands paired with his voice than did viewers who disliked him. Simply put, if the listener liked David Duchovny already, they also liked the product that his voice was promoting just because it was endorsed by him.
Let’s look at the flip-side. By hiring unknown or professional voice talents, companies can walk away with voice-overs that will sell and brand effectively without pre-formulated connotations and a Hollywood price tag. Think of it as the “anonymous voice-over security” that celebrity voices actors are unable to provide by virtue of their high-profile careers.
Consumers easily identify with the guy-next-door type or the mom-who-does-it-all character. This strategy works because individuals can immediately determine if the character is trustworthy.
The bottom line for advertisers: When casting a voice actor, ask yourself “Do they sound real?” It is great to work with a celebrity if they are right for the part, but it isn’t advised to cast just anyone because they are a celebrity. Connect with your audience by working with real people — professional voice actors who will positively convey your message to influence a mass market.