When advertising on radio, it's important to consider the voice reading the script. The effectiveness of a radio ad depends on the associations it conjures up in the listeners' minds. Voices can have very different connotations depending on the speaker's gender, age, dialect and manner of speaking. A voice can instantly summon up a complete image of the character behind it.
When we hear a voice, we're instantly aware of the gender of the speaker and all the stereotypes we apply to men and women are invoked. Male voices are usually perceived as more commanding and are used in 'hard sell' advertisements. Gossipy female voices are used in ads that purport to share secrets with the audience. A sultry, breathy female voice can grab the attention of a male audience and make practically any product sound desirable.
A person's voice gives us a general impression of their age, and the age of a spokesperson can make a difference when it comes to marketing. New and trendy products tend to be advertised by a youthful voice, unless the ad is intended to be humorous or ironic. Advertisements for insurance or mortgages are almost always delivered by an older male voice exuding confidence. Mature female voices can express concern and sympathy and are often used in ads for medicines.
The dialect or regional accent of a speaker can convey a great deal to the listener and be viewed as either positive or negative. In general, a standard, mainstream accent makes the speaker come across as better educated and more successful, but people with regional accents sound more friendly and trustworthy. If your ad is running on a local radio station, you might consider using a voice artist who speaks in the regional dialect, but it could be worth doing some market research first. Studies have shown that while some speech communities respond well to people who sound just like them, others are actually turned-off by their own accent.
Subcultures and different social classes often have their own distinctive modes of speech. If you tuned in to a radio program featuring a couple of California teenagers you could probably tell which one was the surfer dude and which one was the hip hop artist based on their way of speaking. A voice that invokes a social stereotype can be useful in an advertisement if you want to associate a particular image with your product.
We're all familiar with stock characters from TV and films who speak in distinctive ways. Certain speech patterns will bring to mind the image of a pirate, aristocrat or cowboy without the need for visual cues. A voice artist acting the role of a character can bring drama or humor to advertisements and hold the audience's attention.
Major companies often use celebrities in their ad campaigns. If your marketing budget doesn't extend to hiring movie stars, you might consider using a local celebrity such as a radio talk-show host or having an actor mimic a legendary celebrity voice. People pay more attention to a familiar voice than to one they've never heard before and are more likely to buy a product from someone they admire.
Advertising on radio can be highly effective if you understand your target audience and have a clear idea of the image you want them to associate with your product. Try to choose a voice that harmonises with the impression you want to convey and one that will have a positive impact on your listeners.