In visually driven storytelling commercials sound plays a supporting role. Without sound the story would still be visually communicative.
In audio storytelling commercials the order is reversed. The focus is on the ‘voice-over’ narration that is visually supported. Without sound the story would be incomprehensible. In other words, the narrator’s voice is the hero of the commercial and the images work in sync with the words of the story as visual support.
‘Voice-over’ narration in commercials is a technique that is often used with compelling effectiveness. It is creatively an inspiring storytelling focus, especially for Copywriters.
The Voice of Paul Harvey
Paul Harvey was a famous American radio broadcaster who, in 2005 was awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1978 he gave a speech in which he paid a moving tribute to farmers.
A recording of his tribute was used as the ‘voice-over’ for the much-lauded Ram Trucks commercial that was aired during the 2013 Super Bowl.
1. Ram Trucks, So God Made A Farmer
Advertising Agency: The Richards Group, Dallas
Ten photographers were commissioned by the agency to provide a backdrop of compelling photographic stills.
The commercial, which has been described as a “retro heart-tugger”, received 402,000 social media comments within 45 minutes of its first airing.
Eurostar, Stories Are Waiting
Advertising Agency: Abbot Mead Vickers BBDO, London
Simon Ratican directed this campaign of two commercials for Eurostar’s cross-Channel rail service.
The narrated stories are about unexpected encounters, promising cross-Channel affiliations and the possibility of lasting romance. The scenarios are refreshingly devoid of Tourism Advertising genre clichés.
2. Stories Are Waiting In Paris
3. Stories Are Waiting In London
4. Jim Beam, Bold Choice
Advertising Agency: StrawberryFrog, New York
Created more than a decade ago, ‘Bold Choice’ is still very highly rated by Advertising Communication professionals for its craftsmanship in compelling storytelling. Superbly directed by Dante Ariola, the commercial stars the oscar winning American actor Willem Dafoe.
The ‘voice-over’ narration is also by Dafoe and he reminds us that there is really only one choice. “All choices lead you somewhere. Only a bold choice takes you where you’re supposed to be.”
5. Highsnobiety and Nike, Taking Back Their City
Director of Photography: Imraan Christian
Highsnobiety went from being a blog about street wear to a media brand, magazine publisher and production company based in Berlin.
‘Urban Golf’ is becoming increasingly popular in many cities across the world. It is considered to be a social commentary about traditional golf’s elitist nature, and its often dogmatic rules about golf club protocol and exclusive membership criteria.
In partnership with Nike, Highsnobiety travelled to Cape Town to meet the talented team of urban golfers who are reclaiming their city and pushing the boundaries of what the sport can be. As the ‘voice-over’ poetically elaborates, it is also about freedom of expression.
6. Tous Tender Story No5
Advertising Agency: SCPF, Madrid
Tous, a Spanish jewelry brand, has a very popular advertising campaign of ‘Tender Stories’. Stylishly directed by Victor Carrey, story No5 stars Gwyneth Paltrow who lends the commercial a cinematic appeal.
A man and a woman seated at different tables in a coffee shop are introduced to viewers by a ‘voice-over’ narrator. They don’t know each other and consequently are unaware of just how much they have in common. It is a charming story about a chance encounter and enjoyably watchable.