Much as I love Jon Hamm
We certainly hear plenty about race to the bottom wages – why pay someone a living wage, when you can find someone else a million miles away, or a local who’s just plain desperate, who’ll work for 13 cents an hour?
So it was interesting to come across a recent article in The Washington Post on a distinctly different phenomenon: actors who are scoring million dollar pay days (pay hours?) to do advertising voice-over work that a plain vanilla voice-over actor– the guy next door, only with a great voice – would get paid a few thousand bucks to do.
What prompted me to think about voice-over-ing was hearing a familiar voice on a TD Ameritrade commercial I heard the other day.
Our Matt didn’t displace a poor boy voice-over achiever, however. He’s taking the mic from Sam Waterston. (Apparently it’s not about the benjamins. At least for themselves. Both Matt and Sam are said to donate their advertising fees to charity.)
Needless to say, those who have labored as field hands in the voice-over vineyard are not jumping for joy when they see their (relatively) meager wages going Hollywood.
They are not happy campers,” said Marice Tobias, a well-known voice coach known in the industry as the “voice whisperer.” “A lot of them will say, ‘Why don’t they just leave our business alone?’ ”
With millions of dollars in play – even if it gets Lord and Lady Bountinful’d off to a charity – that ain’t going to happen.
The “civilian” voice-over folks are doing plenty of voicing over the celebrity trend:
“Some are fabulous, and some are pretty mediocre,” said Keri Tombazian, a veteran voice actress. “The unfortunate thing for us is that career voice-over actors are not afforded the luxury of mediocrity.”
One does have to ask the question of whether having Matt Damon or any other A-list actor whispering the sweet nothings into our ears actually moves more product. But:
“Rarely is it strictly for sales,” said David Schwab of Octagon, a sponsorship consulting firm. “Brands are always looking to create product differentiation,” he said. Using a celebrity voice “increases awareness.”
Hmmm. How does Matt Damon’s voice differentiate TD Ameritrade from, say, eTrade. I actually think the snarky eTrade baby creates more differentiation. (That is eTrade with the little wise guy, isn’t it?)
The displaced persons apparently agree with me:
“That’s a complete load of hogwash,” [voice-over actor Tom] Kane said. “The reason agency people and clients will shell out millions is called star you-know-what.”
Well, whether he’s hawking Aleve or Mercedes-Benz, I can certainly see that Jon Hamm would hold appeal to someone interested in being a start you-know-what.
While I certainly haven’t forgiven Don Draper for throwing money in Peggy’s face, now that Mad Men has closed shop for the season, I would certainly miss that Don Draper (never Dick Whitman) voice fix if I couldn’t rely on Aleve or Mercedes-Benz ads.
Not that it’s motivating any buying behavior on my part. I buy the generics at the corner drugstore when I need pain relief. And when I need transportation relief, well, I just get the cheapest Zipcar on offer. Which so far hasn’t been a Mercedes. (Once over the initial weirdness, I’m kind of liking that Prius.)
When I’m thinking about the well known actors who do voice-overs, no actors of the female persuasion come to mind. I’m sure there are some, but the only voice-overs I can think of are men: Damon, Hamm, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm…
Maybe there are comfort products – mac ‘n cheese – that use actresses?
Most of the actresses I see doing ads are not doing voice overs, they’re doing both video and audio, supposedly for products they actually use: Jamie Lee Curtis, whose worried about our bowels, and Blythe Danner and Sally Fields, who want to help out those with osteoporosis. (Interesting that these gals are past their peaks, and are pushing products for gals who are pat their peaks as well.)
Meanwhile, much as I love Jon Hamm, I’d be just as happy if a poor working stiff with a nice voice got the voice-over job.