Contemporary Car Commercials with Ron Allan

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    Automotive spots for radio and TV are a classic genre of voice over job. But as a voice actor performing a car commercial read today, how do you make a traditional topic fresh, and how can you use your voice to hone in on the specific target market the company aims to resonate with?

    In this week’s episode, Stephanie is joined by Ron Allan, a veteran of on-air radio work who also boasts ample experience in creative copywriting and vocal coaching. As they listen closely to a round of auditions for an automotive TV ad, he breaks down the elements that make a good car commercial, including knowing where your voice fits best, capitalizing on opportunities in the copy, and discerning your ad’s target audience by studying the brand. 

    About Ron Allan

    Ron Allan started his broadcast career in 1995 at the Specs Howard School of Media Arts in Detroit, Michigan. From there, Ron’s first gig was on small-market radio stations learning how to communicate with listeners both on-air and at live events as a station emcee.  It wasn’t long before Ron moved to on-air positions in rock, country, contemporary hits, and oldies formats in capital city markets like Lansing, Michigan and Charleston, WV, before discovering and falling in love with the smooth jazz format in Columbus, Ohio. Along the way, Ron developed his skills in creative copywriting, voice over, audio post-production, live event MC, and has voiced and produced thousands of radio commercials throughout his 30+ year career. 

    Ron is a well-known voice over coach and has trained over 500 students in the art and business of voice over since 1998 through his own company, BIG VOICE Productions, LLC. Ron has also appeared as a model in print ads, runway fashion shows, and as an on-camera actor playing extra parts in TV spots for Facebook, Bob Evans, AEP, Value City Furniture, and one major motion picture, Traffic, starring Michael Douglas. Ron is currently the Morning Host on WSBZ, Smooth Jazz 106.3 FM, The Seabreeze, Destin, Fla.

    Hosts: Stephanie Ciccarelli, with special guest Ron Allan.

    Links:

    Inspired by this episode? Get your practice on with our voice over sample scripts

    Connect with Ron Allan on his website, LinkedIn, or Facebook, and hear his voice on Voices.com.  

    About Mission Audition: Mission Audition is presented by Voices.com. Produced and engineered by Randy Rektor. Script written by Oliver Skinner.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Hi there. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli, and welcome to this episode of Mission Audition. Today, we’ll be learning about automotive spots, and hearing from a variety of talent. Our special guest joining me in studio today via Zoom is Ron Allan. Now Ron Allan is a well known and highly respected voiceover talent and coach, from Big Voice Productions. Ron, as I said, he coaches, he trains people. In pre-COVID days, people would come into the studio, which is absolutely gorgeous by the way, I love it, it looks so nice. But he also does training remotely. If you have an online tool you’re using for training, likely that Ron is using it too. He works in the Midwest, and he is just an amazing person, in this voiceover business that we’re in.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Now, Ron has got over 30 years of experience as a professional voice talent, audio producer, broadcast copywriter, on camera talent, voice caster, and voiceover coach. As you can clearly hear and see, we’ve got a lot of awesome information and insight to gather from Ron today. Some of his clients are Fox TV, ICAN TV, Genesis Communications Network, Goodwill Stores, and many others. Ron and I first met in Columbus, Ohio, at his voiceover conference many years ago. And ever since, he’s been a wonderful part of our network of voiceover coaches. Welcome to the show, Ron.

    Ron Allan

    Well, thank you, Stephanie. It’s a pleasure and a blessing to be with you and everyone that’s listening to the podcast today for Mission Audition.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Oh, well thank you so much. I know that this area of automotive spots is really near and dear to your heart. You do lots of this kind of work. And I bet you, your voice has just crisscrossed that great nation of yours, the United States. People hearing you all over the place, getting their cars off the lot and into the homes of those people who need them. Before we dive into these auditions, I would really love, Ron, just because I know you, but maybe some people in our audience don’t, just could you share a bit about your story with us?

    Ron Allan

    Absolutely, happy to. Yes, I started in small market radio, and small market television shortly after that, and small market modeling. All the talents, if you will, the industries crisscrossed and cross promoted each other, and compliment each other very well. Radio was my launching board though, for every skill that I ever learned in performance. Obviously, as a radio host you’ve got to perform a show. But then as part of your job description, you’ve got to cut and voice and produce and even write the ads in a radio station. And a radio station is much like an assembly line of commercials. Five, 10, 15 a day, or more, depending on the size of the market, and the volume of advertisers, and of course the salespeople that are on the street, that are cranking in the orders. And the season of the year dictate the volume of work that comes in.

    Ron Allan

    And typically, a radio personality will have anywhere from two to five commercials today to voice and produce. And it’s because of that, they don’t spend a lot of time on creativity. They slap it together with the music, maybe a few sound effects. In the automotive world, it’s the typical impact wrench that you hear a lot, and overused sound effects. But it’s crank it out, get the customer to approve it, and boom, we’re on the air tomorrow or the next day. Very common for automotive spots. That’s on the local level, automotive dealers.

    Ron Allan

    National is a different animal altogether. They sell the sizzle, the image. Not the call to action, come on down and get the sale, and the free oil changes, and the free tire rotations as part of the add on, value added stuff. It’s a different approach when you talk about automotive spots between national and local.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Those are great distinctions, Ron. And not all of us think about that as we’re watching a spot on television. And certainly, the radio commercials versus TV commercials for cars are different too. And I know that that the job we’re talking about today actually is for a television spot. We’ll be listening for what to do or how an artist could better paint their words. I’m sure there’s a lot of differences that come up, simply just because you’ve changed the format, not only the market, that people are going to be hearing the spot on.

    Ron Allan

    That’s correct. And it’s distinctive that it is a TV spot, and a lot of voice talent don’t understand that it’s not just audio, but video. And the video includes all the different shots and the angles, and the typical shots they plan to show in the 15, 30 second spot, whatever length it may be.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Well said, and I can’t wait to hear these auditions today. I think we’ve got eight of them, if I’m not mistaken, Randy? Yes, yes we do. We have a description of this job, and I do want to get into that right now, because it’s so important. And as per our custom, as everyone here knows, every one of these companies and scripts that we’re talking about, they are fictitious. This is not a real company we’re talking about, but something that we have made up just for this episode of Mission Audition.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    And as always, the scripts are available to our listeners to use royalty free for a voiceover demo, if they should want to make one for their profile. As we also have talked about in the past, you know it’s a huge part of voiceovers, just understanding the brand and its target audience. That said, here’s some information about our fictitious company, Wave Front Motors. Wave Front Motors is an independent auto maker that manufactures high tech battery powered vehicles. This is a 15 second TV spot, meant to show off the design of their new model, while showing the brand’s core philosophies, which are technological innovation, very important to them, a belief in renewable energy, a harmony between machines and nature being the last one.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    This script calls for a middle aged, North American male voice that is authoritative, smooth, and edgy. And here’s what we’re asking them to do, without coming across as too cheesy or contrived, this ad here is meant to exude the same feeling as a classic adventure film. And when we say classic adventure film, I know we’ve all got our own idea of what that might be. The intention here though is more like an Indiana Jones, or Jurassic Park, that sort of adventure theme we’re looking for.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    With that said, the voice is going to be bold, gritty. It’s got to be cool and sophisticated and sound like they’re just getting this audience, they’re beckoning them to come and get in the car for the ride here. Buy this car. I’m not going to read the script out. That’s the job of our wonderful auditioners. Before we get going, just everyone make sure you’ve got a pen and a paper, something you can take notes on ready, because these auditions, they’re going to come fast and furious. But I’m telling you, Ron Allan is going to be just on it, and he’s going to give you tips that you can take to the bank and you can put right into practice in your own studio the minute you stop listening to this podcast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    All right. Everyone ready? You’ve got all your stuff? Here is audition number one.

    Audition 1

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era, with sleek, aerodynamic design, and ultrasonic sensors that prevent collisions. There is no more getting left behind. Life is short, drive fast.

    Audition 1

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era, with sleek, aerodynamic design, and ultrasonic sensors that prevent collisions. There is no more getting left behind. Life is short, drive fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    All right. That’s our first audition. Ron, what are you hearing?

    Ron Allan

    Okay. Initial impression, I wrote down some notes, but the initial impression I heard was breathy. And by that I mean, it aspirates a little too much. There is a phrase we use when I direct talent, to say less is more. Less is more. People don’t really understand what that means. It means kind of throw it away, be more subtle. I will agree, that he was bold and gritty. Very good with that. Good articulation. Heard every sound that I want to hear. A little too rushed, and that might have been him going for the classic adventure film that was in the setting. But the music will help that feel. That’s what you need to remember. The music in this kind of an ad will be a bit player as opposed to a background piece of music. The talent need to understand that. There are three elements going on. The voice, the music, and the imaging in the shots. But blending with those other two elements is crucial.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Ron, on that note, just because I know that this being a fictitious spot, clearly there was no video. There wasn’t anything that someone could actually put their voice to and try to see how they fit into the overall masterpiece. What kind of tip would you give somebody who literally, they just come across a script just like this, there are no visual aids, you don’t see a picture of the car, for instance, and you’re certainly not knowing what the music choices are. How can a talent put their self forward, knowing that they’ve done the best that they can, given they have very little to go off of other than the script and the direction?

    Ron Allan

    Okay, they have to look very carefully at the setup. For example, the setup did say, “Independent automaker.” Independent automaker is got competition, right? The established automakers of the industry. It’s an uphill battle. They’ve got to outspend them. The talent needs to understand, this is a potential long term engagement. If they’re chosen, they could become the branded voice. And that’s why the selection process is very detailed. And there are many people that make the actual selection. Not just one person will make that choice. A team of people.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    All right. No, that’s really interesting, because you have to get inside the head of that client too. And part of seeing what the description is, and understanding where they’re at in terms of their position in the market is also important. You’d have a different take on this if say, it were Cadillac versus this up and comer, right?

    Ron Allan

    Absolutely. And understanding who would be the audience of one. Not everybody buys an electric vehicle, a battery powered vehicle. There are people that are just tried and true, gas and oil, that’s it. I will not consider a battery powered vehicle. It’s typically the younger millennials who are considering this, and therefore, the voice has got to appeal to that audience of one.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Yeah, I guess we’ll move on to audition number two, and we’ll listen a little more closely for what else we might discover.

    Audition 2

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era, with sleek, aerodynamic design, and ultrasonic sensors that prevent collisions. There is no more getting left behind. Life is short, drive fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Well very pointed. Life is short, drive fast. What do you think, Ron?

    Ron Allan

    Okay, he nailed the bold and gritty resonance in his voice. Maybe too much resonance though for the younger audience. He’s got the bold and the gritty sound down, pat. But he needs to sound a little younger. Bring that to a younger. If he can, if he can, adjust his tone to a younger audience. And he also should do that with pacing too. It seems to drag a little bit, and it’s not the epic adventure film that they put in there. He’s relying a little too much on voice, and not taking into account the music and the video that will augment the voice.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Right. If we could just go into more of a psychological moment here, what is it about the younger set that would require the talent to have less resonance? Well, first, how would you do that? Because you did say sound younger, but does that mean that the more resonance is in a voice, the older it might sound?

    Ron Allan

    Yes.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Just unpack that for us, if you don’t mind.

    Ron Allan

    Yeah, that’s the perception. You hit it on the head. The more resonant, it sounds like dad, sounds like grandpa, sounds like Uncle Bob to the younger person. How do the people sound that hang out with you? Are they nasally sounding, are they upbeat? Do they have a smile on their face? A lot of people just have a natural smile on their face, and the voice will reflect that. We all relate to the age demographic and the era that we’re growing up in. That’s why we all have our favorite music, and our favorite food, and our favorite trends. And it goes right along with buying a car. Does it fit my image? Well, that voice has got to fit the image.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    It absolutely does. And I know that there are people of varying ages that do buy electric cars. The question here in this spot, is which of those groups is someone trying to hit on. If someone were looking to get the millennial generation, and getting them buying, they’d have to go younger, they’d skew their voice a bit more younger you’d say?

    Ron Allan

    Yes, absolutely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    All right. I think it’s time to listen to audition number three.

    Audition 3

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era, with sleek, aerodynamic design, and ultrasonic sensors that prevent collisions. There is no more getting left behind. Life is short, drive fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    All right. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say here, Ron.

    Ron Allan

    Okay. Initial impression was stereotypical, hard sell announcer, right out of the gate. If this person got listed into past the first five seconds by the people deciding, I would be surprised, because the initial impression. Five second rule. Go and grab me a five seconds, according to my description. Why would I spend time listening to the rest of the read? Again, sounding a little too old. Got the bold and gritty going on. No problem there. Could stretch out a few more words for the melodramatic classic adventure film style. This person tended to cut off their sounds a little too abruptly. A little more coloring of the words. And this will add to the cool and sophisticated read, if they simply stretch out some of the words and sounds just a little bit. But it sounds too abrupt, too abrasive in my ear.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Very, very good points. And it isn’t that voice that we were used to 20, 30 years ago, that is selling cars. It’s now a different one, so we always have to keep up on the trends. And the best way to do that, as Ron said, is to be listening to your contemporaries, but also to understand what people are actually paying voiceover artists to do. If you’re watching a television spot, someone paid for that. You’re going to be like, “Oh wow. I guess this was a desirable sound. They wanted to pair it with their brand, their car, their what have you.” See where you can find some patterns. There are a lot of commercials on YouTube for what airs on television. If you don’t have cable, because I know a lot of people don’t, they’ve got a streaming service or what have you, you’re cutting out commercials. Let me tell you, you are cutting out part of your education as a voice artist.

    Ron Allan

    Absolutely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    You need to be getting to these spots, be it terrestrial radio. You’re listening to a local radio station, for those spots, or you are finding these ads on the Car Makers YouTube channel, perhaps. That might be a good spot, but Ron, where would you recommend people go to learn more about what’s trending in automotive?

    Ron Allan

    Absolutely. As you mentioned, Stephanie, if you don’t spend time with traditional network or cable television, certainly be watching the YouTube videos that pop up before the video that you want to watch. It’s very common to see 15 second quick hits. Even longer ones, but the 15 seconds are the very, very common ads that I see pop up on YouTube videos all the time. You cannot get away from them, really. Take some time, and instead of hitting, “Skip ad,” take some time and immerse and gently listen to what it is hitting your ear. Close your eyes. And don’t be influenced by the video. What are you hearing? Let your hearing dictate the style. And your memory banks in your mind will go, “Oh yeah. I remember hearing about 350 of those ads this week. And therefore, that’s the style I’m hearing predominantly.” And it gets in your mind. You go, “Okay. Now I need to mimic that kind of an ad that I’ve heard so much of lately.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Absolutely. And while we’re here, on this little note, I wanted to ask you, Ron, does it make sense for someone to make an automotive voice demo? Like would you advise, if they want to get into this space, that they have, I don’t know, a little 30 second one minute spot, that they can put on their profile, that shows people what they can do with the car commercials?

    Highly recommend, it’s called a niche demo, or a niche demo. However you pronounce that word. But yes, a specialized demo for the automotive industry. Why? Because they spend the most money on advertising across the board, national, local. Just watch TV. And just jot down how many car commercials you see on an average weeknight.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Bearing all that in mind, just how much more might a car company right now be looking for a voice that is different, different from even what is trending right now? Because if they have to stand out amongst all these other spots, then they might be trying something new. Have you seen any inkling of that?

    Ron Allan

    Absolutely. However, they do want something unique. All car dealers want something unique. They’re so much alike, that they have to differentiate themselves in some way, shape, or form. And that’s why you should approach this as a potential, long term relationship. And the model for this, if you’re watching, people like Mercedes Benz, they typically find a talent, and latch onto that talent, and sign them to an exclusive contract for years. Jon Hamm is the current voice of Mercedes National. Jon Hamm has the cool, sophisticated voice, but he’s not shouting at anybody. Mercedes doesn’t shout. They don’t have to. But they have a voice that personifies the image.

    Ron Allan

    And the same with Matthew McConaughey for Lincoln. And for many, many years, I think they’re starting to go away from him now, but Ford N F150 has used Denis Leary. He’s got the smart butt kind of voice, because they know that’s who they want to walk into a Ford dealer local. The kind of blue collar guy that they want relates to Denis Leary’s voice. People that are in … we’re in a age of specialization. We all type in key words when we go to the search engines. Well, anybody looking for a voice is going to type in the qualities of the voice that they’re looking for. And boom, it’s going to go right to your demo, being on Google, on YouTube, anywhere they’re searching for you.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Whoa, those are great tips. Yes. You cannot be everything to everyone. I love that. We’ve talked about signature voices before, or your bread and butter work. That’s kind of I think what Ron is talking about, but even on a more specialized level within the automotive sector. You’ve got to know your customer and you’ve got to make yourself available to that person who is searching, because they won’t know what your talent is if you don’t tell them. But also have an objective ear, someone like Ron, who can listen to you and say, “Yeah, I think you’d be best suited for this.” And that’s a part of coaching. That’s what coaches do, is they help you to understand where your voice lives and how you can best use it in the voiceover market.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    All right, so let’s listen to audition number four.

    Audition 4

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era, with sleek, aerodynamic design, and ultrasonic sensors that prevent collisions. There is no more getting left behind. Life is short, drive fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Hm. This one sounded a little closer to me. Like if I’m following a little trail toward getting warmer, getting warmer, getting warmer, this one had the younger sound that you’ve been talking about, and could also sense it being a little … I don’t know. The voice sounded a little more close to the ground. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but to me it sounded like it was hitting nearer the mark, but also had a read that might appeal more to the millennials.

    Ron Allan

    I totally agree. First thing I wrote down was, “There’s our cool. There’s our sophisticated.” But what was interesting also, unlike the other ones, was his choice of pacing. He separated the words into the phrases. So far, everybody else has read through the line. But he’s finding the phrases in the scripts, in the sentences, and separating those, and using those to his effect. A subtle pause here and there. In other words, silence can make all the difference. And you still make your time in 15 seconds.

    Ron Allan

    But by separating those phrases, you can really bring out the features of the model of the vehicle you’re talking about, and make those things stand apart. And that’s one of the things we’re talking about, being unique, finding the phrasing in each sentence. And not just reading it all the way through. That means if you don’t see a comma, maybe it’s time to put one in. Where you don’t see a dash, put something in there, that you don’t see in the copy. And that’s how you kind of get into the head of the copywriter. But I agree, he’s closer to the mark that I think that they’re casting for.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Right. And I think I love how you can insert a comma or do something different with phrasing than someone else may think is just the stereotypical way to do something, how to read it. That’s something I’m noticing. And of course our listeners don’t have this benefit, but you, Ron, we do. You and I, and Randy, we’ve all got the benefit here, being behind the curtain of knowing just how long these audition submissions are. And I’m looking at some of them here. There’s a 15 second spot. And some of these are clocking in at 17 seconds. Some are at 20.

    Ron Allan

    How would someone on the receiving end who’s a producer, take that? Would they have the patience to be like, “Oh, it came in at 20 seconds,” let’s say. Maybe it’s really only 12 of those seconds that the talent is actually supposed to be talking per se, I don’t know. But just how generous is a producer or a casting director, when they see that someone’s gone long over? What would happen typically in a case like this?

    Ron Allan

    Great question, and great consideration. Yes, some of these auditions, most of them are longer than 15. That one was 20. If the producer, and this is a case by case, producer by producer judgment, some producers will say, “Yes, he didn’t hit the mark, but boy, we sure like his style. We can tighten up on those phrasings, those slight pauses here and there, and we can buy ourselves the five seconds that we need in between those phrases, or are willing to edit our copy.”

    Ron Allan

    If the copy is a deal breaker, “No, we cannot edit that copy, this is our final copy,” and you never really know what the audition script is, if they say, “Nope, you have to hit the mark, or you didn’t hit the mark,” they might judge you and say, “Well, you’re not experienced in TV voiceover.” And that’s crucial on timing. More so than radio or anything else in this business, so that’s why you always do two takes. One a little bit long, one a little bit short.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Yeah. Oh, that’s great advice. And it will be a case by case basis, because every producer is different. Sometimes someone sees potential and, “I love that voice. We’re just going to do what we’re going to do, and maybe tighten it up later.” Those are great things to think about. Sweet. All right. Well, let’s listen to audition number five.

    Audition 5

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era, with sleek, aerodynamic design, and ultrasonic sensors that prevent collisions. There is no more getting left behind. Life is short, drive fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Another good read.

    Ron Allan

    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    It sounds similar to the one we heard just before, in terms of its age. But what can you share with us here, Ron?

    Ron Allan

    Okay. Again, very good use of the phrasing. Initially, in the first part of the script. And then he noticeably picked up his pacing as the script went along. Got a little quicker. That might have been an effort to make the 15, although the whole demo reads at 20 seconds. And that’s not a deal breaker either. But he was trying to set himself apart with that phrasing, initially. But the feeling has got to be there, that keep it moving. Moving forward. This is what’s going to compel the viewer, in this case, to not go to the fridge and get a drink. No, I’m going to be compelled to watch this commercial all the way through, and listen to what this voice is telling me. To maybe convince me, persuade me, to consider this vehicle for my next purchase.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Well, on that note, Ron, just how flexible would a copywriter or that team, that production team be, with someone changing the punctuation, or with the phrasing? Is there a kind of a line that you shouldn’t cross? Punctuation is one thing, but what is going too far?

    Ron Allan

    Well, I wish there was a hard and fast rule. But the fact is it’s not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes you obey punctuation. And sometimes you disregard totally. But it’s all in the inflection that you put on your voice, to differentiate. I call it stair stepping my way through the copy. Everyone that hears an ad like this, is not relating to every feature. For example, in the copy it says, “With sleep, comma, aerodynamic design, comma, and ultrasonic sensors, that prevent collisions.” That’s three or four features in the list. Everybody is not going to relate to sleek, aerodynamic design. Everybody is not going to relate to ultrasonic sensors. But one person is going to say, “Oo, I want that on my next car. I heard that.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Yeah. And punctuation is your friend, it can tell you things. But more often than not, it’s the words, kind of what’s between the words and the lines. And you’re meant to, “Oh. All electric. Okay. Well, that means that this is a pure electric car.” This is for those people who that is exactly what they want to do. They have a lifestyle. An electric car fits into it. All right. Well, let’s listen to audition number six.

    Audition 6

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era.

    Ron Allan

    Okay. Where is the rest of the copy?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Yeah. That’s what I was thinking too.

    Ron Allan

    The very first thing I heard is breathiness. On the very last syllable of the second word, which kind of goes to the classic adventure film, but more to a trailer style than narrating this kind of an ad in helping to sell a vehicle. Went a little too far, too extreme to the classic adventure film. Might have been thinking, “Oh, this is a trailer.” Okay, great voice for trailers, but not really what they might be going for here. Epic sounding? Yep. He’s got the gritty and the bold voice. No problem there. Even the cool and sophisticated voice. Although, it’s tending to sound too a little more mature than this company might want.

    Ron Allan

    Cutting it off at 12 seconds says, “I’m too busy to do the rest of this copy,” or he’s protecting his audio, and not wanting to give it away. There’s a couple of schools of thought to think about there, and why he cut it off. Or he’s trying to set himself apart from the other talent. But my perception is, “Where is the rest of my copy, and why didn’t you do it?”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Everything you just said. The one part though, that is a little puzzling, is this is a Mission Audition read from Voices.com. It’s not a real job, and you’ve got a whole script, and no one is going to take advantage of that, or take the audio. That, for anyone who is listening, who aspires one day, to audition for one of these jobs, as we do post them from time to time, then don’t be afraid to read what’s in front of you, the whole copy, because we will more than likely be listening to the full piece of copy, especially if it is a commercial, because they’re so short to begin with.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Yeah. I know that a lot of people may not want to read the whole script. They might change up some words. That’s why I was asking you, Ron, there’s got to be a line somewhere, where it’s okay to improvise to a degree. But then there’s just some hard and set rules, where just in any voiceover recording, you just don’t not read what’s in front of you. If there was any advice aside from what you just shared, is there anything that you would advise that talent not do in an audition?

    Ron Allan

    Yes. If he wanted to not read the whole copy, that’s okay. But definitely don’t leave out the last phrase. It’s typically the positioning statement. What used to be called the slogan, back in the 70s and 80s, the positioning statement is the branding statement. Any advertiser wants to hear how you voice their positioning statement. Life is short, drive fast. Now, I don’t know in fact, if that’s what Wave Front is in fact using, and they’ve paid an advertising agency dearly to come up with those four words. But you definitely want to showcase the fact that you will help brand their model, their dealership, in the marketplace, that everybody gets paid to do. The signature voice, and that’s what you’re really trying to go for. You leave that off at your own peril.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Yeah. I’d say that’s a huge missed opportunity, because every other talent has really driven those home. Like pardon the puns, with our automotive spots here, but you’ve got this moment in time that you literally, if you’ve been doing this script in a way that has got the audience in the palm of your hand, that’s the moment where you seal the deal. That’s where they’re going to be like, “Yeah. I’m going to go do this,” or that’s the call to action in some ways, because as you said, they’re selling the sizzle, right? You’re selling a dream, or you’re trying to show them what they could aspire to. Yeah. That’s a huge missed opportunity. You’re telling a story. And it’s got a beginning, a middle, and an end. And make sure everyone always knows how it starts and ends, the middle. A little more flexibility there. Thanks for those points.

    Ron Allan

    You’re welcome.

    Audition 7

    Perfect, all right. Let’s listen to audition number seven.

    Audition 7

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era, with sleek, aerodynamic design, and ultrasonic sensors that prevent collisions. There is no more getting left behind. Life is short, drive fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Oh wow. Well, there is another read for us to look at. Ron, what do you think?

    Ron Allan

    Okay. Immediately I wrote down younger. He hits the mark on the younger sound. Got the gritty, he’s got the bold. And very nonchalant. Very much a throwaway. He’s very much talking with me, not reading to me. He’s telling me a story, as you mentioned earlier. He’s starting to tell a story. What about the future? He piques my interest, my curiosity. It doesn’t give it away, that this is a car ad. It could be anything about … it could be about technology. It could be about planning a vacation. What is in the future as opposed to the past and the present? He piques my interest, the way he’s got a forward motion kind of feel going on with his voice. Very good.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Absolutely. I think the telling the story is important. And when you had mentioned some of what you just said there, it made me think of Apple, actually, and how Apple, they’re basically selling you something other than the hardware, right?

    Right.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    As you said, oh, this could be anything, this is a story about empowerment, or it’s a story about freedom. It’s a story about creativity. I think that that’s important, is that we remember what are you selling, and ultimately, it’s what people want at the end of the day, is not necessarily a piece of hardware. What they want is what it will do for them, and how more importantly, it will make them feel.

    Ron Allan

    Which we all want to know, any product, any ad we here, what’s in it for me. If you look at the words on this kind of an ad, or actually most ads, they’re written on an eighth grade education level. You know why? Because they’re easy to understand. Those words are easy to understand. We don’t need a dictionary to look up the meaning of these words. Don’t overcomplicate your life. Just tell people the story about this vehicle and what it will do for them. If you overthink it, your anxiety level is going to go up, and it’s going to effect your voice, it’s going to effect your performance, you’re going to overdo it, and quite often, I land jobs when I apply what I just said.

    Ron Allan

    I’ll just go ahead and perform this as if I know what I’m talking about. I’m talking to Dave. I’m talking to Steve. I’m talking to Stephanie. And hey, I know you’re in the market for a car, Stephanie. Have you considered the future? You used to chase it, now you’re living in it. I just gave you a pre-sentence or a pre couple of sentences. And then I stopped and I went into the copy, as if I’m talking with one person, who’s right there conversationally, with me in my studio. Imagination. Tell the story. How would you tell the story to someone that you know very well? Over coffee, over a beer, over the cubicle in the next cubicle. How would you tell them about it during a break? While you’re driving to the ballpark or the park, itself, and you talk to them about something that you just bought and you’re driving.

    Ron Allan

    Tell the story. Know who you’re telling it to. Don’t ever read the story.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Yes. Don’t ever read the story. Oh my gosh. Everyone just write that down. Get a sticky note. Stick it up on your console or your screen, and remember that every single day. Wow. Oh my gosh. So many good tips. We’ve got one more audition. Want to make sure that we’re listening to that one with the same ears we started with for everybody else’s. Ready, set, go. Audition number eight.

    Audition 8

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era, with sleek, aerodynamic design, and ultrasonic sensors that prevent collisions. There is no more getting left behind. Life is short, drive fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Okay. Well, Ron, what do you think?

    Ron Allan

    Yeah, I used the words he’s got the cool, he’s got the sophisticated going on. He’s got the gritty, unique sound. But he tends to sound a little too old with that breathy, trailer voice. Again, remember that the music and the video will lend to that feel. Don’t count too much on those words. And again, sounding younger to appeal to that demographic that might be in the market to buy this kind of vehicle.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    All right. Now, we have our list of dos and don’ts, for how to do our car spots. And that being said, we’ve heard eight auditions. All very interesting, some common threads, but all obviously very different voice prints. Ron, this is the time. This is when you get to choose and help everybody understand what someone like you would be looking for in a winning read. Obviously, we’re going to leave this up to you. That’s your job. Which auditioner is taking the prize today on Mission Audition?

    Ron Allan

    Okay. I knew you were going to ask me this. Put me on the spot. Okay, so I’m the heavy guy here. Okay. I’ve written my comments about each one. And I want to make sure that I was fair and across the board, giving the right comments. But I did circle two on this short list. I’ve got a shorter list. Okay, so I’ve come down to two. And that being number four and number seven. I would have to lean though, and give the nod to number four. And the reason is what I said, was his phrasing. They were pretty even as far as gritty sounding, forward motion. They had the young, sophisticated, going on. But I would give the nod on the little thing to the phrasing, that he used to his advantage.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Wow, and it’s the phrasing. As you said, there was something a little bit different about that person’s read. In the automotive space, that’s exactly what’s needed right now. Randy, can you queue up the winning audition, please?

    Audition 4

    The future. You used to chase it. Now, you’re living in it. The Wave Front is an all electric automobile, that propels driving into a new era, with sleek, aerodynamic design, and ultrasonic sensors that prevent collisions. There is no more getting left behind. Life is short, drive fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Well, this is brilliant. Oh my goodness, Ron. So much fun to see you here. And I know you’re at Big Voice Productions. Love the red shirt, I wish people could see that. This is a podcast and they can’t. But you know, it’s just always so great to hear from somebody who has such a mastery of the work that they do, and completely understands what the market needs. Thank you very much for being on the show today.

    Ron Allan

    You’re welcome. I have one more tip if we have time.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Oh yeah.

    Ron Allan

    We didn’t get a chance to talk about this but it’s so very important. We mentioned the fact that you should smile, and the smile cuts on your face and in your voice. I tell all my students a very simple trick, is to put a mirror in your booth. A very small headshot mirror, because you will see yourself either smiling or not smiling. The mirrors don’t lie. It’s mirror, mirror on the wall. And you can’t fake it. That’s a great little tip. I tell all my students find a space, very close to where you can see yourself voicing, and you will see, and you will hear the difference it makes, to put a smile on your face.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Absolutely. And obviously, people who are listening are probably thinking, “How do I get more tips from Ron not in this podcast?” I want to make sure that you have an opportunity now, to just let everybody know what the best way is to learn more about you, and how to get in touch.

    Ron Allan

    Great. Several ways, of course. Like everybody else, I’ve got a website. It’s BigVoiceProductions.com. And of course, my contact information is there, but I’ll go ahead and give it to you now. Email me direct, BigVoiceProductions@Gmail.com, or you can call my studio line. I’m here more often than I should be. It’s 614-476-8833.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Ron, what kind of ways do you train people, and what might set your course apart from someone else’s?

    Ron Allan

    Thank you for asking. Number one is it’s personal with me. It’s one-on-one. Nobody learns from a curriculum, from a book, and a one size fits all way of training. What do they really want to do in voiceover? Maybe they’ve got a passion for audio books, which is long form. Maybe it’s short form. That’s commercial work. TV and radio. Or maybe it’s medium form, industrial narrations and things like that. I help them find what I call their money reads, and I help them steer in that direction. As Clint Eastwood said, “We’ve all got to know our limitations.” And so I know mine, and I help my students uncover theirs, and how to exploit those strengths, and focus on marketing themselves, which is huge in this business. You’ve got to market yourself. I focus on that.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    Wonderful. Well, thank you so much, Ron. Always a pleasure to see you. Hoping that after all this is said and done, that we might be able to get together for another event some time. That would be great.

    Ron Allan

    Looking forward to that, Stephanie. It was a pleasure having you here at the Midwest Voiceover Conference. Back in the day when we had those conferences, back in the day when we could have Humanity Gathering. Lord willing, we’ll get there again.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli

    I hope so, yes. We are all still recording from home, but you have an amazing studio. Again, I wish people could see this. Perhaps we could tweet out a photo of it when the podcast goes, so everyone can understand just the great studio that you’ve put together and who they’d be studying with. Again, thank you, Ron. Thank you to Randy, our producer. And thank you all for listening. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli. This is Mission Audition. We look forward to hearing from you on social media. And also, as you know, you can go to our blog to get the script that you heard today. Voices.com/Blog. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you again soon.

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    Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

    1 COMMENT

    1. On the podcast you mentioned a place to listen to commercials which I heard as “karmich Reviews?” I cannot find it on you tube or anywhere else. thanks btw, love. love, love the auditions, so helpful.

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