I’m not one to talk politics. It’s the one topic I will always avoid—oh look, a pony … BUT with the Australian and United States elections coming up this year, I AM interested in talking political advertising campaigns. In particular, voice overs for said political advertising campaigns.
Political advertising can be clever, creative and emotive. It can also be laden with repetitive slogans, smear campaigns and empty promises.
My position straight up is that I don’t go there. Politics is my VO no-go zone. I don’t want my voice associated with a political party, campaign or slogan.
Here in Australia, political advertisements require an authorisation statement at the end of the ad. You know—those ‘written, spoken and authorised by’ race call-style voice over end tags? Well those tags name the voice actor. Usually by first initial and surname.
The MEAA rates for commercial voice overs sweeten the political voice over deal by including a loading that equates to double the total VO fee. This is purely due to fact the voice actor may not want to be associated with the content.
So while these gigs pay well and ultimately the voice actor is doing just that (acting), I don’t want my name next to any political party—regardless of whether it’s the way I vote or not.
Not voicing these spots is my own personal preference. All voice actors have their own ‘I ain’t going theres’. So for those that do go there, no judgments from me whatsoever. In fact, I am in awe of the voice actors that have built their VO careers on political advertising as it takes real talent to deliver political messages effectively.
Every election year we see an influx of political voice over demos and voice over agents and voice over websites touting the best vote-inducing voices:
Political voice pros, for example, claims:
Some of the most powerful, persuasive and experienced voices in political advertising. The cream of the crop. Many of the best-known names in politics owe much of their ad campaign success to these political voiceover professionals.
Big call that. But a true reflection that a voice can make or break a campaign. Whether a positive, uplifting testimonial or a negative attack on the opposition—authenticity is key. If a voice over is not believable, the ad is not effective. This, in turn, can impact the whole campaign.
Some websites even go as far as promoting voices as Democrat or Republican—I’m not sure of the aural distinction between the two. Perhaps that’s worthy of a major psychological study someday … Although I dare say it is probably more to do with previous campaigns voiced—major parties would be unlikely to hire a voice previously associated with the other team.
Voice actors can also sign up for specific coaching aimed at perfecting their political prowess. And it’s probably well worth the investment. In the US, top talent can reportedly earn more than $100,000 during an election cycle.
Voice actors just need to pick their team, provide a believable read and be ready at a moment’s notice—you never know when the opposition will slip up; with said slip up needing to be made public on TV, radio and online immediately.
Meet a couple of voices behind the last US election campaign c/o CNN: