Name That Voice

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I have a new favorite past time. Rather than fast forwarding through commercials I now get a kick out of listening intently to each one – the object being to see how quickly I can decipher which celebrity is doing the voiceover. It seems like more Hollywood talent has been lending their voices to the world of TV advertising than ever before – it’s almost as if some actors misinterpreted the recent migration from film to TV and took it one step too far. Starring on a hit cable series is one thing, but hocking everything from cars to fast food is another.

I get it…money talks. And for some reason advertisers believe that the association of a celebrity to their brand will suddenly have their product flying off the shelves, which leads them to fork over obscene sums of money to already highly paid actors, thereby squeezing out the very folks who are supposed to be getting those jobs in the first place (in hopes of one day becoming one of those highly paid actors themselves!) The whole system has been turned on its head. And yet, I am still intrigued and love trying to identify the voices – maybe because I tend to be pretty good at it. It’s kind of a fun party trick, especially at events like the Super Bowl when so many new campaigns are unveiled. But sometimes, as much as I can enjoy the guessing game, the whole thing can have a negative effect. Case in point: Applebee’s commercials. Now, ever since he I first laid eyes on his long hair and scruffy face opposite Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City, I’ve been a huge fan of John Corbett. And as a Parenthood fanatic (although, don’t get me started on last night’s season finale) I keep hoping they will bring him back and make him a series regular, reuniting him with Lauren Graham’s Sarah Braverman for that happy ending that we rarely get to see. But each time I hear his voice trying desperately to convince me to actually eat their food, I love him a little bit less. I mean, really? Applebee’s? I get that lots of people in this country like to frequent their local Applebee’s on a Friday night, but as a NYC – I’ll admit it – snob, I just can’t stomach it. Now, folks like Jon Hamm, on the other hand, have it all figured out. If you’re going to give your voice to a commercial brand, let it at least be one offering a high end product so that people might be so lured by the shiny, pretty things on screen that they can’t help but make a positive mental association. It’s a win-win, the advertisers sell more product and the actors, well, they walk away with their heads held high, and their bank accounts even bigger than before.

In the end, I probably shouldn’t judge. I would narrate commercials for Chia Pet if they paid me to.

Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these ad campaigns featuring well known celebrity voices is your favorite?

Jeff Bridges, Hyundai

Patrick Dempsey, State Farm Insurance

David Duchovny, Pedigree

Jon Hamm, Mercedes Benz

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