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November 5, 2011

Freschetta Pizza :30 TV

Even an announcer role has conflict and a problem to solve. When you get a commercial script, look for the line where the "lightbulb" comes on. It'll usually be when you hear the product name, or when we first see the product on-screen and realize what the commercial is actually for. It's where we go from thinking-out-loud about a problem, to knowing and sharing the solution to that problem.

In this Freschetta Pizza spot, for example, we get several questions right at the top. Ask these questions as if you know there's only one possible answer. Make your listener want to know what's coming next. The answer to those questions is the product. Everything from the product on down to the end of the spot is the answer that only YOU have, so we want to hear you letting us in on a secret. Once that lightbulb is on, it remains on and lends its energy to the rest of the spot.

The podcast episode for this spot is rather a marathon at 25 minutes, with both Mike and Heather discovering a lot of new things. Stick with me. As always, you can click the title of this blog post to get to the "real" spot on YouTube.

Who makes a better-tasting pizza?
Who uses real tomatoes, and all real cheeses,
Dough that rises naturally, with no chemical leaveners?
Who uses only premium meats?
Who makes it taste fresh?

Freschetta Naturally Rising Crust Pizza.

No other pizza tastes like Freschetta,
Because no other pizza is made like Freschetta.

And for a crispy, fire-baked crust, try our Brick Oven pizza.

2012 Chrysler 300 :30 TV

From the first line of the spot, this AVO is overflowing with opinion and point-of-view. The AVO is dismissive of the idea of a fuel-efficient car as an end in itself. And even contractions like "gonna" and "gotta" show that this AVO is a real person, not a disembodied voice.

Of particular note is the use of the word "and" on the line "One with character, and conviction, and pride..." This is meant to sound like we're naming these attributes as we think of them, rather than reading them off a prepared page.
If you're gonna build a fuel-efficient car,
The first thing you gotta do, is build a car that's worth building.
One with character, and conviction,
and pride you can notice from down the street.

Then, and only then,
do you put in an 8-speed transmission
that gets 31 miles per gallon.

That combination of luxury and efficiency
only comes from one place in the world.

(On-screen text:
The new, 31 mile per gallon, Chrysler 300.
Chrysler. Imported from Detroit.)

Clorox "Timeline" :30 TV

Pretty anthemic for a spot about something as mundane as washing your socks. Check out the "real" version on YouTube (click the title of this blog post to see it). You'll see the time-lapse footage of folks doing laundry since 1913. It's hypnotic.

And it's one of those spots where we don't hear the product name until the very end. Because the "lightbulb" doesn't come on until the very last words of the commercial, the entire spot should sound like thought. Even the last line should sound like a nice, slow, deliberate realization.
Laundry is not new.
Your mother, your grandmother, her mother,
They all did the laundry.
Maybe even a man or two.

And although a lot has changed...
The machines,
the detergents,
the clothes themselves,

The bleach most trusted to keep whites pure white
is still Clorox bleach.

Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons :30 TV

Another thing you didn't know you needed! This is an example of the rare spot that mentions the brand/product immediately. As Heather points out, "That's because everybody loves Crayola." Most spots take a little longer to draw us in. As you watch TV, pay attention to when in the commercial the brand/product is first mentioned. Very few will drop that name immediately. (Even Apple spots don't show you the Apple logo til the end. Of course, with Apple you usually know you're watching an Apple product spot before you see the logo. But that, too, is designed to make the listener/viewer feel smart, like they're in on the secret.)

Meanwhile, in the Crayola aisle:
At last, Crayola dry-erase crayons
combine all that kids love about dry-erase,
with all they love about crayons.

Crayola dry-erase crayons are washable,
won't dry out,
and wipe away like magic.

Now ideas transform, right before their eyes.
Idea, after idea, after idea.

For back to school,
find Crayola dry-erase crayons and sets
in the Crayola aisle.

Lunesta :60 TV

I typically don't use pharmaceutical spots in class, because about half of the copy is describing the side effects. I chose this because it's a good fit for Susan's voice, and I want to make sure she gets lots of time on mic this week after missing last week! We omitted the 30 seconds of side effects from the middle of the spot, and just left the "good part."
If your racing thoughts keep you awake,
Sleep is here, on the wings of Lunesta.
And if you wake up often in the middle of the night,
Rest is here, on the wings of Lunesta.
Lunesta helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.
So you can wake up feeling rested.

(The "legal" (side effects) copy is omitted here)

Ask your doctor if Lunesta is right for you.
Get Lunesta for a zero-dollar co-pay, at
Sleep well, on the wings of Lunesta.

October 22, 2011

Kinney Drugs "Caregiver/Ready Scripts" :30 TV

When you get a rather boilerplate, generic-sounding piece of copy like this spot, look for moments where you can inject your personal opinion and point-of-view. This will make or break your read! Those first FOUR sentences of this spot are four platitudes, all in a row. Platitudes are sentiments that nobody in the audience should disagree with – which is great, because you always want your listener to say "yes" – but the platitude has no power if it's delivered as anything but an an authentic, honest opinion. A line like "With my busy life, it can be hard taking care of everyone" absolutely MUST be delivered as an honest admission, or the audience will be saying "Give me a break!" Heather delivers an excellent read starting at 7:44. Compare this to her first couple of reads, and hear how much more convincing she is, when she doesn't sound like she's trying to convince anyone.
My mom's always been there, to take care of me.
She's never let me down.

When her health started changing,
I wanted to make sure she always had her medications.

With my busy life,
it can be hard taking care of everyone.

So I enrolled Mom in ReadyScripts, from Kinney Drugs.

Our Kinney pharmacist refills her prescriptions automatically,
so she doesn't forget, or have to wait.
Kinney will even deliver them for free.

Now, I take care of Mom,
And Kinney takes care of us both.

Kinney Drugs.

Wolf Brand Chili :30 TV

Because the vast majority of voiceover work out there doesn't require character voices, I typically avoid training my students on any spot that calls for a dialect or accent. I'll make an exception for Wolf Brand Chili. Although I did applaud Mike's choice to do not an out-and-out caricature Texan, but a voice that was really just a slight twist on the Mike we know and love. Mike's reads felt a bit rushed as he tried to shoehorn all this imagery-heavy copy into 30 seconds, but 4:07 he delivered a read that was at a much better pace. This led to my discussion at 4:45 about how never to deliver an audition that sounds rushed, unless the agent specifically tells you that it needs to come in under :30 or :60.

Script-wise, this copy is about as formulaic as they come. You've gotta love the non sequitur when we go from talking about broad concepts of "work is work" and "play is play" to something as mundane as a mass-manufactured can of chili.

On this spot, we "shot out" the MKH 416T shotgun microphone, vs. the Neumann U87ai large-diaphragm condenser. Both sound excellent...which do you prefer? The U87 sounds more natural and less colored to my ear, but the 416 is wonderfully punchy. Love it!

Deep in the heart of Texas, everything's real.
Our work is work. Our play is play.
And every night, the stars come out.
Especially on Fridays.

So it stands to reason that chili's gotta be real too.
That's Wolf Brand Chili.
A Lone Star favorite since 1895.

Bold, fiesty, seasoned up like it was born with spurs on.
So whether's it's mixed in, heaped on, or straight up, you're getting the genuine article.

Wolf Brand Chili.
Open up a big old can of Texas.

Disney Parks :30 TV Campaign

There are two announcer VOs on this campaign. The female (AVO 1) gets most of the imagery to play with, while the male (AVO 2) is doing most of the heavy lifting on the escalation in the second beat.
Disney Parks "Something for Everyone" :30 TV
AVO 1:
What will your Disney memory be?
Will it be squeals and giggles, or screams and shouts?
Evil queens, or mischievous grandpas?
A moment you'll always remember,
or a vacation you'll never forget?

AVO 2:
You can make your Disney memories happen right now
At a price that's right for you.
Like 7-day vacations starting as low as $68 dollars a day per person, for a family of four.

AVO 1:
So let the memories begin
At the place where dreams come true.
Heather tried the second spot, and got a little tripped up on the last line. When you get stuck on your tenth take of a line, step back and ask yourself, What am I talking about? Picture something...there's obviously plenty to choose from, imagery-wise, when your topic is Disney World, of all things. And Heather scores a nice little breakthrough at the end when she figures this out.
Disney Parks "No Worries" :30 TV
AVO 1:
What will your Disney memory be?
Will it be smiles that magically appear...or bags that magically appear?
Meeting an enchanted princess, or being treated like one?
Doing it all?
Or doing absolutely nothing?

AVO 2:
You can make your Disney memories happen right now
With room, ticket, and a dining plan that saves you money
All for as low as $93 dollars a day per person, for 7 days.

AVO 1:
So let the memories begin
At the place where dreams come true.

Home Depot "Small Project Inspiration" :30 TV

The top beat of this script, with its three questions, throws a bit of an acting curveball. You need to sound impressed and genuinely curious without sliding over into the realm of incredulity. The subtext needs to be "Wow, that's cool" as opposed to "What the F are you trying to do?"

Your task here is to make it sound like you think it's a positive thing! This is a great exercise. How many different ways can you deliver those opening lines? Come up with a mental image for whatever that "idea" is. I imagined my neighbors painting a mural on the side of their garage.

The real spot shows up plenty of projects, but when you're auditioning to do the VO on this spot, you won't have that TV screen to help come up with some impressive creative projects on your own mental TV screen.
Where'd you get that idea?
How'd you learn to do that?
What'd you use?

Every project we finish comes with a story built in.
It's how our rough ideas become . . . "You did that yourself?"

So when we can save more on the projects that let us fix, make, and do more,
that just makes the stories even better.

More saving. More doing. That's the power of the Home Depot.

October 8, 2011

Kraft Mac and Cheese :30 TV

Can't have a VO class without at least one "DUH read," as I like to call it. I actually chose this spot because the VO's timbre on the "real" spot reminded me of our own Shana's voice quite a bit. The real VO's voice is a bit lower than Shana's...or maybe it just seems that way because her low end is emphasized in processing. I really think it's on purpose, so the range of the VO doesn't compete with the kids singing "Put a smile on your faaaace" in the background in their high kids' register . . .

Watch the "real" spot on YouTube and tell me what you think:

Want more smiles for your dollar?
With Kraft Mac and Cheese, you get 3 bowls for about a dollar.
And that's a lot to smile about.

Kraft Mac and Cheese. It's the cheesiest.

For online savings,
and to help donate a million boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese to FeedingAmerica,
visit ShareALittleComfort dot com.

Valspar Paint :30 TV

"Her voice makes PAINT sound SEXY!" - Mike J, describing Susan G...

There are theories that color holds power over us.
Well, those theories . . . are now fact.

Connect to the truest, richest paint we’ve ever created.
Color at its most electric.

Valspar Hi-Def Advanced Color System.
Connect to the power in color.

(The time to paint with Valspar is now.)

AARP :60 TV ...and SPECS Discussion!

How much attention should you pay to specs, on auditions your agent sends you? Listen to our discussion at 12 minutes in to find out.

At this point in the game, you've worked hard.
You've accomplished a lot.
You're an expert at doing what you love.

But when it comes to making healthcare choices,
you might need a little help.
That's where AARP Health Care Options comes in.
Designed by experts to keep you covered,
so you can do what you want to do,
now and in the future.

For nearly 50 years,
AARP has brought premier health insurance options to its members,
selecting from the nation's leading health care providers.
You'll get one-on-one customer service geared to help you choose just the right plan.
Everything from dental and health insurance,
To discounts on prescription drugs as well as eyewear.

Learn more now.
You don't have to be a member to call or click.
You're the expert at living your life.
For your health care needs, trust the experts in life after 50.

BareMinerals "Be A Force of Beauty" TV campaign

Let's look at two spots in this BareMinerals campaign.
The eyeshadow spot has a difficult line in its opening beat, so as you listen to the podcast, you'll hear us start with the foundation and work upwards. You know, just like you put on makeup in real life.) Here are YouTube links and the scripts for both spots:

Spot #1: BareMinerals Eyeshadow :30 TV
With just one look,
You can silence a room.
But why on earth would you want to do that?

New BareMinerals READY Eye shadow.
Solid mineral technology delivers vibrant, blendable, lasting color.

Be a force of beauty.

Spot #2: BareMinerals Foundation :30 TV
They'll notice you,
Not your makeup.

Get flawless coverage with a natural look and feel
with BareMinerals foundation.

Be a force of beauty.

Listen in for our great discussion of how to picture a tagline like "Be a force of beauty." This is going to be something different for every listener. Figure out what it is for you in order to deliver this line convincingly.

Clorox GreenWorks :30 TV

From nature, comes Greenworks.
Natural plant-based cleaners
without harsh chemical fumes or residue.

Since Greenworks products are made by Clorox,
they clean with the power you’d expect.
And they’re made from natural ingredients.

Now there’s new Greenworks natural dishwashing liquid.
It removes grease and baked-on food,
leaving your dishes clean and shiny.


October 1, 2011

Big G Kids Cereals "Grow Up Strong" :30 TV

• This is a spot where the imagery is more interesting than the copy. As a VO, your job is to give energy to boring copy.
• The PLATITUDE OPENING that nobody can disagree with... "To do well, kids need to eat well." No need to convince the audience of's an obvious yes.
• The Long Awkward Unrealistic Line with lots of information crammed into it ("Did you know it's the only leading line of kids' cereals . . . " To make it less awkward, make it more spontaneous, like thought.
• In this read, you're addressing someone one-on-one at arm's length, putting the performance out in front of you, BEYOND THE MIC. Your read can sound spontaneous and "like thought" and conspiratorial across-the-fence-to-your-neighbor....without being INSIDE YOUR HEAD on something as fun/light/casual as a kids' cereal spot.
• "Did you know" means you're talking to ONE PERSON.
Listen to Mike's pickups at 14:56 and 15:16. Just a little turn of the dial to make it less announcerish and more matter-of-fact makes it a better and more believable read.
To do well, kids need to eat well. And eating well means getting enough whole grain and calcium.

And General Mills Big G kids cereals can help.
Did you know it's the only leading line of kids cereals with at least 8 grams of whole grain and a good source of calcium?

Cereals they already love,
like Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Give your kids more of what they need to be their best.

Grow up strong with Big G kids cereals.

Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop :30 TV

• Comment On The Action. You're always responding to something on-screen. You're never just existing as a disembodied head in a always have an opinion and point-of-view on the situation. You are reacting to it in real time. We don't get to SEE you in VO, so we have to HEAR your opinion and point-of-view. Go TOO far . . . we'd rather pull you back. Give me the COMPARE-AND-CONTRAST on "the LEADING spray mop."

• You can "shrug" without actually walking your pitch up every time . . . that can get a little too singsongy when EVERY line in the spot is a shrug (The REAL VO on this spot falls down that trap.)

• "Hairpin turns" or "U-turns" in the copy often happen in the first beat, or transition from first to second beat, when we go from Problem to Solution, and hear the product for the first time. The product/solution line is often a non sequitur...something pretty darn random and unrelated. Instead of being fed that Solution off a teleprompter, let's hear you think of it for yourself. (If you need to pause for a beat, think and PICTURE IT, I can always shorten the pause later in editing...that's what's great about VO. You're not playing to a metronome click, you can go at your own pace.) Give yourself time to think of the product/solution. You can't choreograph it ahead of time--it's got to sound like spontaneous thought. "Come to think of it...this idea just occurred to me..." is always so much more compelling than someone reading a pre-determined script.

Put another way: Who's more interesting, A) the guy in the bar who feeds you the same pick-up line you've heard 10 times or B) a guy who makes a wry observation that just popped into his head? Probably B! Now with voiceover, you don't have to be a writer and come up with wry observations on your own...but you get to breathe life and energy into a flat-on-the-page script. Make it your own by making it spontaneous.
Every time you clean with the leading spray mop,
it costs you.

So try Reveal from Rubbermaid.

The bottle's refillable – you use whatever cleaner you like.

The reuseable microfiber pad cleans deeply –
then just toss it in your regular wash.

So why waste money on costly refills?

Reveal saves you $50 dollars per year.

Try Reveal.
Only from Rubbermaid.

Subway "That's A Lot" :30 TV

• When giving a list of related ideas that build on each other, you can give each idea its own space. When that Lexus car commercial says "Escape convention, escape definition, escape compromise," those ideas build upon each other, but they all deserve to be treated as their own separate thing. We don't want to hear that you're rattling off a list . . . we'd rather hear each idea as it comes to you. We don't know what's coming next! Same goes for something as ridiculous as kiddie pools full of grease, water coolers full of grease, and bird baths full of grease. You can consider each one separately as the image comes to mind. (Eww, gross.)
In one year, U.S. restaurants can produce up to 1.4 million pounds of grease.
Enough to fill 3300 kiddie pools, over 33,000 water coolers, or 111,000 bird baths.

[Over a burger on-screen]
Of course, a lot of it ends up right here.

Skip the grease.
Go for the breakthrough taste of the new Subway Oven Crisp Chicken.
Always baked, never fried.
Merely 7 grams of fat,
and the newest part of a Subway Fresh Fit Meal.

Subway. Eat Fresh.

Head and Shoulders Hair Endurance :30 TV

Another great example of a COMMENT ON THE ACTION spot.
Hairstyles come,
And hairstyles go.
But to get the most our of every style, you've gotta have hair.
Hair that's full and thick.

Excess buildup on your scalp can leave your hair looking thin.
New Head and Shoulders Hair Endurance for men
has a hydrating formula designed to remove buildup
and help restore your scalp to health,

Leaving you 100% flake-free hair
that's fuller and thicker-looking, guaranteed.

New Head and Shoulders Hair Endurance
Respect the scalp. Get the hair.

September 24, 2011

Dove Deep Moisture :30 TV

If you're listening to the podcast, try and stick with me on this one! It is a serious triathlon, with all three of the ladies working out their skills on some VERY FORMULAIC copy...starting with opening with a QUESTION ("Ever wear your clothes in the shower?") eliciting the unspoken NO, all the way down through repetitive words (even the product name has the word "Moisture" in it TWICE.)
Ever worn your clothes in the shower?
If you’re using other moisturizing body washes,
you might as well be.
You see, their moisturizer sits on top of skin,
almost as if you were wearing it.

Only new Dove Deep Moisture has Nutrium Moisture,
a breakthrough formula with natural moisturizers
that can nourish deep down.

It’s the most effective natural nourishment ever.
New Dove Deep Moisture, with Nutrium Moisture.
Superior natural nourishment for your skin.

Splenda :30 TV

• This "SUGAR SITUATION" spot is a perfect example of the Problem-Solution-Satisfaction formula. Instead of emphasizing the repeated word "sugar," emphasize the words that FLANK the repeated word. Using the comedic rule of 3 to BUILD that opening beat in its 3 pieces WITHOUT pausing after "that means..."

• "But it's not sugar" is a SECRET that you are letting us in on. And it's a GOOD THING, too.

• Use INTERNAL THOUGHT, thinking out loud . . . let us HEAR you come up with a clever way to say something. A line like "It's a win-win and a yum-yum" only works if it's delivered in a way that sounds like YOU THOUGHT IT, not you read it off a flat page.

• Instead of emphasizing the word AND, which is SELLY . . . find the important words, and emphasize those instead, and the big selly AND will go away on its own.

Ah, breakfast.
That means sugar in the coffee,
in the cereal,
and the grapefruit.

The day has just begun,
and already you have . . . a Sugar Situation.

The sweeter solution:
Splenda No-Calorie Sweetener.
Made from sugar, tastes like sugar, but it’s not sugar.
And with no calories, it’s a win-win, and a yum-yum.

What a way to start the day.

Imagine life sweeter.

H & R Block “Wrecking Bunny” :60 TV

One of the best WRY HUMOR/COMMENT ON THE ACTION spots I've found, right up there with the Sears Optical "Missing something?" campaign that we all know and love.
To do a job well, you need the right tools.

If you’re filing your taxes online,
never settle for less than the best tax software.

Nobody knows taxes like H&R Block.

Combine your smarts and our expertise
with H&R Block at Home.

File for free at

Never settle for less.


This spot is a beast. It's also a great example of introducing a new, complex, multi-tiered concept ("Take all the time you need, then call us and we'll come get it...remote storage centers..." blah blah blah) . . . they are CRAMMING information into this :30 spot and it's up to you, the VO, to make it palatable.

In my opinion, the talent doing the VO on the "real" version of the spot (click the title of this blog post to view on YouTube) is he's hitting the ending line a little too much. When you have bombastic copy with words like "best," you've got to treat it like an honest admission as opposed to a hard sell.
What is PODS?

A smarter way to move and store.

We deliver a container, you fill it up . . .

With big things,

Valuable things,

Things you want to baby.

Take all the time you need,
lock your container and keep it on site,
or call us and we’ll come get it.

We can drive it to your new home across town
or across the country,
or store it at one of our secure storage centers.

That’s PODS.

The best moving and storage idea ever.

September 17, 2011

Green Earth G-OIL :30 TV

Can changing your motor oil really change the world?
Because this is not just another crude oil.
This is new G-OIL,
ultimate biodegradable high-performance oil.
Made right here on our soil from renewable bio-based resources.

So it's time to make the change official.
Because if G can race in the American Le Mans series,
You can bet the redwoods your car can run on it too.

New G-OIL. Only from Green Earth Technologies.

Get more at Get G dot com.

Garnier Fructis :30 TV

Is your shampoo sucking the life out of your color?
Try new Colorshield from Garnier Fructis.

Powered by grapeseed and acai berry,
it works two ways: preventing dryness, protecting color.
It's proven.

Colorshield fights fade-out, stops dry-out,
so you can love your color even longer.

Keep your color bold and brilliant, your hair silky and soft,
even after 45 washes.

New Colorshield from Garnier Fructis.
It's proven to perform.

Garnier. Take care.

Nicoderm CQ :15 TV

Anxious about quitting cold turkey?

Make that first step easier with the Nicoderm CQ patch.

Nicoderm steps you down from nicotine gradually,
doubling your chance for success.

Nicoderm CQ.
10 weeks, and you're free.

Raid Max Bug Barrier :30 TV

The way bugs see it,
Your home is their home.

But now you can build a barrier that kills bugs dead.

Introducing Raid Max Bug Barrier.
Its Auto Trigger lets you lay down a continuous, long-lasting barrier like the pros do.

Build a barrier indoors and out
with the new Raid Max Bug Barrier.

Florida Orange Juice :30 TV

(NOTE...for only the first 20 seconds or so of Susan's first read, there is a digital clocking error, which makes it sound funny... my fault. You can skip ahead or just ignore it)
Food scientists have spent years with their beakers and flasks and chemistry sets
trying to come up with something as good for you as Florida orange juice.
But they've never come close.

Start your day with almost 25% of your daily recommended fruit and vegetable servings,
in one eight-ounce glass.

It's a miracle in every way.
Florida Orange Juice.
Healthy, pure and simple.