By Dan Friedman
For a long time, I’d say the last couple of years at least, it seemed that there was a lack of creativity in commercials. The vast majority of scripts I was recording, mixing, or voicing were simple voice and music spots. Lately though, I’ve noticed more dialogs as well as scripts with interesting scenarios and an abundance of clever lines. To all of the writers and ad agencies out there who are responsible for this… let me express my gratitude. What a welcome change!
Every single aspect of this great business gets even better when creativity is injected into the process. Recording sessions are more fun as talent get to interact and react in response to one another or their lines. Mixing is more fun with greater opportunities for sound design. Most importantly, the spots are more interesting and attention-getting when on the airwaves. Naturally, the concept must be well executed, but that is for another article. I don’t think I’m out of line by suggesting that nearly everyone prefers to listen to a compelling or clever story rather than be told what to do, or worse, shouted at (just ask my kids).
During the last several weeks I mixed a spot for a bank that placed a character in a silo to demonstrate that people can truly do their banking from anywhere. I voiced a spot that included clever and relatable lines in response to a kid who couldn’t stop asking, “why?” I’ve worked on a hospital spot where a husband took the lead in helping his wife prepare for surgery. These are just a few examples out of many. While I haven’t done any scientific studies (although there probably are some), I’m convinced that people are more likely to turn up or tune in to a commercial if it offers more than just price points and deals. The VW commercial that premiered during this year’s Super Bowl is a perfect example. It is cute, it is compelling and it tells a story (okay, so it does not include voice over… nothing is perfect).
Today’s technology makes sound design easier and faster than ever. Therefore, creativity doesn’t have to cost a lot more. As a VO engineer and producer I love creating a scene with sound. As a voice over talent, I love to communicate the unspoken messages of a script just as much as the spoken ones. I don’t know of any producers or voice talent who would not prefer to fully utilize the skills they’ve developed in their craft. My guess is that, if you are a writer, being creative and clever to effectively communicate a message is equally rewarding. So, to those writers out there who are bringing creativity back… thank you! I encourage you to keep it up and I look forward to helping you and your clients sound great.