I’ll say this, and it will probably come back to bite me at some point…
I HATE ADVERTISING.
Always have. (Don’t tell my commercial clients.)
However, there’s a good reason for it; I don’t like feeling manipulated.
The point behind an ad is to GRAB you, and in many cases the producers of a radio, TV or online spot will do anything they can to snag your eyeballs or ear holes. This includes assaulting you with screaming babies, grandmas getting hit by cars, or sexy, suburban soccer moms goofily dancing around their living room in celebration of whatever new hybrid crossover was just released. And even though they work, they’re cheap, mostly irrelevant attempts to get you to stop what you’re doing and pay attention.
But every now and then, a commercial comes out that breaks the rules. It grabs your attention WITHOUT aural attack or corny tactics. It’s creative, well executed, and the voiceover nails the intent of the ad.
Such is the “The Travel Guide” for the new Samsung Galaxy S8.
Watch it, then we’ll discuss why this spot was a success.
The Evolution of the Casual Read
First of all, we need to back up and look at the trend towards “casual” voiceover reads over the past several years. There’s been a distinct transition between salesy “announcer”-style reads and ones that are more laid back, made to sound like you’re listening to a friend. But even that style is commonplace nowadays — it’s no longer new and different.
What I love about this ad, and specifically the voiceover, is the conversation the narrator is having both with you the audience member, and himself.
He’s telling you what you need for a trip around the world, but at the same time, he’s learning that this phone has all of it. And as a viewer, so do you. You’re privy to the conversation he’s having in his head (which scores extra points in our increasingly voyeuristic culture).
The Use of The Pattern Interrupt
When you begin watching the ad, you think it’s going to be another slick series of images of half-naked skinny people taking selfies at the beach while the v/o guy lists off a series of features. But in this case, the narrator himself DOESN’T know the features. He’s learning them in real time.
In marketing, this technique is called a “pattern interrupt”. It’s designed to do what the screaming baby does — get you to pay attention — but by changing what you were expecting to happen.
For example, if I said, “I just bought a bag of apples. All of them were blue and square,” it would cause you to break out of your pattern of thought and pay attention, even if it’s for a few seconds. I challenged what you were expecting, so your brain subconsciously said, “Wait! Stop! You should probably investigate this further.”
In the Samsung ad, the voice starts out casual and informative, but then goes back and questions what he was telling you in a completely different tone. He’s just as surprised as you are. And on further inspection, his tone is subtly instructing you how to react — surprised and intrigued.
It’s a phenomenally well-crafted spot on many levels.
Using These Techniques In Your Own Reads
Now as voice talent, what can we learn here?
First, listen to the difference between the narrator’s “informative” tone and his “surprised” tone. How does he set the baseline for what you’re supposed to expect, and how does it change as each new feature is revealed? Is he shocked? Excited? Surprised?
And think about how is the voice acting actually influencing you, as a viewer, to check out the phone as it’s designed to make your life easier?
Think about how this style of “casual” read breaks through the noise of other ads, and how you can incorporate this level of dynamic inflection in your own voiceovers.
Nicely done, Samsung’s advertising agency.
What other pattern interrupts have you experienced in advertising and marketing? Leave an example in the comments below!
P.S. There’s one exception to my feelings on advertising…knowwhutImean?