UNDERSTAND WHAT SHAPES YOUR CAREER
Advertising, branding and marketing are realities that the average voice actor doesn’t come to terms with until well after they’ve committed to a career. Most people choose a career in voice acting because they enjoy creating character voices or because they can’t ignore the positive attention they receive as a result of their natural speaking voice. The point is that the reason for getting into voice acting rarely has anything to do with an interest in advertising, branding or marketing, and yet those are precisely the reasons voice actors are hired. Some voice actors actually express an aversion to the sales aspect of voice acting work. As a voice actor, you are a voice for hire and your job is to drive commerce. Even when you voice an animated character in a cartoon, the performance must ultimately serve to make that cartoon commercially viable.
Voice acting is driven by two primary forces: the need to fulfill entertainment platforms like movies, TV programs, video games and audiobooks, and the need to communicate the existence of these platforms to consumers. How would we know a product is “new and improved” if we’re not alerted by an ad? How would we know about things like Spanx or non-drowsy cold medicine or biodegradable diapers? How would we know that a beloved fairy tale, which we cherished as a child, is coming to the big screen in 3D for our children to enjoy? Advertising is the way we communicate that which is available for consumers to purchase. Add competition to the mix and you get advertising with a point of view. A voice actor with a point of view is key.
HOW THE VOICE ACTOR FITS IN
When competition comes into play, the advertising must cut through the clutter of other voices vying for the same audience. Ah, “voices.” This is where the voice actor matters most. The voice actor’s understanding of the primal goal of the script (brand message) is what leads to the kind of interpretation necessary to bring the script to life. In so doing, you are selling the product. Make no mistake. If you’re a voice actor, you’re in sales. You have to sell yourself to get the booking and the then you have to sell the product for which you have been booked. If you don’t embrace this premise, voice acting is probably going to be a very difficult path.
ADVERTISING HAS VALUE
If not for advertising, the average person would be in the dark about new products and services which they want and need to accommodate their lifestyles. While we demand lots of consumer choices, we also demand shortcuts that narrow the field so we can get on with life. We appreciate and enjoy the cleverness and wit with which advertising highlights and explains the choices available. We are entertained and informed. Ultimately, and we can’t come back to this point often enough, advertising provides a service. Without it, we’d be lost in an unfathomable matrix of choices. Consider that the maker of a product would prefer if the products sold themselves without having to spend hundreds of millions in advertising! But that’s a fantasy. Advertising is an absolute necessity for business success. It creates millions of jobs around the world, including jobs for voice actors. And, if you’re a voice actor, you too have to advertise your talent.
VOICE ACTING IS COMING INTO ITS OWN
This year, the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS™) facilitated a new opportunity for voice actors by securing the corporate support of Honda as presenting sponsors of That’s Voiceover!™ and the Voice Arts® Awards. Finally, big advertising made its first global foray into voice acting as a unique community within the larger community of global commerce. Honda’s support helps open new pathways to elevating the stature and financial value of the voiceover community. It shines a light on many of the underlying roles that support voice acting. After all, voice acting, as a community, is hardly homogeneous. In fact, voice actors depend entirely on content creators, producers, writers, talent agents, casting directors and advertisers. Advertising is the essential hub around which the spokes connect and the wheel goes around. SOVAS™ has become a conduit through which the voiceover community comes together in the pursuit of excellence.
THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF VOICE ACTING
As the stature of voice acting evolves, so does the responsibility for the voiceover community to give back. The primary mission of SOVAS™ is to open new doors in voiceover education, training, job creation and award acknowledgment. Equally important is the recognition of the “voice” as a powerful force, not only to serve marketing and entertainment needs, but to positively impact the state of our world. The voiceover community is enhanced by drawing on a mission that is bigger than itself. It would be a huge missing if those whose livelihoods depend on the skill of communication, abdicated the broader responsibility to put that skill to work for the betterment of humanity. Give back as you go.
SELLING YOUR VOICE
Branding and marketing are often used as a fancy way to say selling. That’s because selling, for a host of reasons, gets a bad rap. This is the whole reason behind the emergence of the “conversational read.” Marketing research revealed that people resists a sales pitch with a vengeance. However, sales is the primary means by which commerce thrives so the conversational read was born. So, the concern about being a salesperson is real. We find that some voice actors have an added worry about selling themselves as talent. It’s personal. It’s not a vacuum cleaner you’re selling but yourself. Your talent is on the line and someone else gets to choose your fate. Yet, having great talent as a voice actor means nothing until you let others know about it. Therein begins the need to sell, otherwise known as branding and marketing.
Joan Baker is the author of “Secrets of Voiceover Success,” and the winner of multiple Promax and Telly awards for commercial and documentary voiceover performances. She is an actor, voice actor, and teacher. Baker trains individuals and groups in the craft of voice acting and VO career management. She has written trade articles for Backstage, Adweek, Multichannel and Broadcast & Cable.
Rudy Gaskins, is an Emmy Award–winning creative director and branding expert. He launched Push Creative Advertising in 2001, after holding executive roles at Court TV and Food Network. His accounts span American Express, Tribeca Film Festival, Lexus, and BET. Rudy has written, produced and directed hundreds of commercials, promos, and marketing campaigns and has directed documentaries for PBS.
Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins are the co-founders of That’s Voiceover!, an annual career expo, and the creators of the newly formed Society of Voice Arts and Sciences and the Voice Arts Awards.
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