String Cheese Theory

Ever think about how to make the word "crunchy" sound appealingly crunchy when spoken aloud? Or about how the flavors chocolate, peanut butter, and vanilla cream all taste different, and therefore should sound different when spoken? The psychology behind advertising copy, and the subsequent voicing of it to cause craving by audiences, is really quite fascinating. It makes me feel like I need to step up my voice-over game substantially, because just “reading well” certainly isn’t going to cut it. I need to make people want things. Last Sunday morning I sat in on Lipservice founder Shirley Venard's voice-over class. Good lord, is she amazing. Wow. Wow. I admit that I've often had trouble reading commercial copy because on paper it seems so lifeless and smarmy. She completely revolutionized my way of reading copy – and frankly, it will now get the same deconstruction method as I set upon works by The Bard himself. And I know that last sentence totally sounds like a line from an infomercial, but I actually mean it – this is deep stuff, my friend.

After spending an entire evening tape-recording and then transcribing commercial copy off of the television, and some significant weeding through the Lipservice script files, I have whittled the choices down to a list of strong contenders for copy that will eventually make it on to my commercial voice demo - Park Nicollet, Staples, Olay, Pantene, Toyota, General Mills, United Way, Audi, and Target. I think I might also try to get my hands on a copy of the British Television Advertising Awards to drop in a piece or two with RP (Standard British accent). I haven't even started with the narrative voice demo yet, but I’m thinking I might yank something from Ken Burns’ Jazz series and that killer Nova special on Quantum Physics/String Theory.

Here's an odd question for you - do you have a favorite commercial (is that even possible?) that relies on good copy rather than sight gags that I should consider for inclusion in my demo? My ad agency friends might have a leg-up on this one. Do share.