Casting Voice-Over for Commercials

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A great voice-over in your commercial can really grab your audience’s attention and get them interested in your product or service. A key step to having a successful commercial is finding the right voice talent through casting.

In this blog, we’ll go over what to keep in mind when casting voice talents for your commercial: different styles of messaging and commercial mediums, target audiences, casting info, auditions, and other considerations.

[Average read time: 4 minutes]

people beside antique store

photo by Simone Daino

Commercial Styles and Mediums

As mentioned in a previous blog, commercials can generally be categorized into three styles of messaging:

  • Hard sell – urgent, direct style of messaging, good for limited time offers
  • Soft sell – relaxed, friendly messaging, good for travel, luxury products
  • Testimonials – customers–or paid actors–share their experiences with a product/service

Additionally, commercials are typically geared to be presented in different mediums:

  • TV: ads for local or national broadcast during commercial breaks in TV programs.  This is generally considered the traditional medium.
  • Radio: audio-only ads that are played during a radio broadcast. More recently, ads for this medium have been adapted for music streaming platforms, podcasts, audiobooks, and other audio-only content.
  • Cinema: commercials appearing before films inside movie theaters. This medium is currently not a popular choice due to the closure of theaters in response to COVID-19.
  • Web: the newest and fastest growing kid on the block, commercials on this medium are ad videos that typically appear as pre-roll on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc…), YouTube, and other online platforms.

Each style of messaging and each medium presents its own considerations when casting. Web commercials can run as short as five seconds or generally can be skipped in that time (e.g. YouTube pre-roll ads), therefore it’s important that the voice you cast be able to immediately grab the listeners at the start. For radio, you only have audio, so casting the right voice is especially important. A soft sell radio ad might have a friendly voice that’s able to relax the listener while they’re driving in traffic, whereas a hard sell TV commercial might need a big, energetic voice to match any strong visuals.

Another big consideration when casting is: who is your target audience?

people sitting on stand

photo by Daria Lisovtsova

Target Audience

When casting, it’s important to know your industry and your target audience. The voice talent should have a voice that matches the branding of your company and fits with customer expectations for your product and services. For example, a commercial for a children’s e-learning application will more likely have a playful tone of voice than a commercial for a luxury vehicle where a more sophisticated, professional tone is expected.

Casting the right voice for your demographic is also key. You should generally cast a voice talent whose voice reflects the demographic of the target audience. If you’re creating an ad targeted for a video gamer in the U.S., you may want to cast a male talent who sounds 34 years old (men are 3x more likely to purchase a game than women, and 34 years old is the average US gamer age). However, that may change based on the type of game you’re selling and your company’s own market research.

Also, if there is a particular local accent or way of speaking that your audience is familiar with, you should cast a voice talent that can speak that way. For example, if your radio commercial is going to be broadcast on a local radio station in Minnesota, you may want to hire a voice actor that speaks with a Minnesota accent. This is especially true if the product or service you provide is for the local audience, such as a new sale at a local grocery store.

By being specific in your voice casting through a detailed casting notice and auditioning process (see below), it will give your listeners a feeling of closeness that will make your commercial more appealing.

black condenser microphone

photo by CoWomen

Casting Info Needed and Auditions

In order to cast the ideal voice for your commercial, be sure to give context and be specific in the type of voice that is desired such as: language spoken, gender, messaging style, format (TV, radio, web), industry (retail, entertainment, etc…), tone/style (energetic, business-like, etc…), age the voice should sound like, and any particular accents.

A note about language: you want make sure that you have the right language to fit your target audience. For instance, “Chinese” generally refers to Chinese Mandarin spoken in mainland China, but can also refer to Taiwanese Mandarin and Cantonese. “Spanish” can refer to Latin American Spanish or Castilian Spanish. If you’re unsure, please consult with your localization provider.

Selection process: one may select voices based on standard demo tapes or based on custom auditions. Custom auditions are when talents are asked to voice text that is similar to the commercial script or a small section of the script for casting purposes. It is a great way to see if the talent is able to adapt their voice to fit the specific needs of the text.


In Summary and Other Considerations

At the end of the day, you want to cast voice talent(s) that want the same thing as you: an awesome commercial that reaches the target audience. To do so means making sure that you cast voice talent that fit the style of messaging and medium of the commercial, match the branding of the product and service, and generally sound like the target demographic.

Casting criteria should be specific and give context so that you’re able to cast the right voice for your commercial. Be aware, given all the above, finding the best talent can sometimes take time.

Consider working with a professional localization studio like JBI Studios that has years of experience casting for commercials and making sure clients find the right voice. Click below to request a free quote today.

To request information or a free quote,

Contact JBI Studios today.