Gone are the days when ads were primarily via TV and radio — while still major outlets, they don’t compare to the various ways the Internet has enabled more personalized, targeted advertising — let alone the days of making commercials and voice over bigger & louder, as if screaming at your already-captive audience because your message must be heard right now [e.g., “EVERYTHING MUST GO!”]. Sure, there will always be a place for the “classic” announcer in a used car commercial, or for a local grocer offering a flavor-of-the-week sale… but even then, increasingly, all generations would rather be advertised to in a conversational, low-key, no pressure manner. Looks like us Millennials are on to something after all!
With that in mind, considering we’ve now reached a full decade of “Millennial” style advertising, let’s take a look at some of the commercial campaigns that truly broke the mold and became reference points for an entire industry.
- Michelob Ultra Pure Gold Beer, Starring Zoe Kravitz
It’s not unlikely that members of the baby boomer generation and Generation X might have thought their TVs were broken when this commercial came on during the Super Bowl in February of 2019. Since this day is… well, the “Super Bowl” of Advertising itself, it was a really bold move for Michelob Ultra Pure Gold to put approximately :46 seconds of silence and noises on the screen, when screen time is such a hot and expensive commodity. But, they doubled down on Zoe Kravitz as a brand influencer who would appeal to a younger generation. (Put her picture in front of 10 people over the age of 40 and how many could identify her?)
In addition to a youthful brand hero, they also “clicked” (ha!) into the very viral trend of ASMR videos. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and is defined on Wikipedia as “an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine.” Essentially, ASMR videos that clutter YouTube and Instagram are filled with both voice actors and amateurs alike who are making all sorts of noises to trigger an ASMR response in their viewers and listeners. This can range from eating pickles, making a cat purr, scratching nails on tree bark and more.
Michelob set up two shotgun mics on either side of Zoe and she volleyed between them cracking open a fresh bottle of beer, listening to the initial fizz and sparkle, drumming her fingernails on the glass and then pouring the Ultra Gold liquid into a pint glass. Meanwhile, Zoe used her voice at a whisper to provide a more impactful message than a booming female voiceover. Who knows if it was effective, but it certainly stood out among a crowd of commercials — many of them for beer and spirits.
- Esurance, with John Krasinski
You’d be hard-pressed to find a male voiceover talent (or a female voice actor, for that matter) who hasn’t seen John Krasinski’s Esurance campaign referenced as a “north star” for a voiceover announcer or voice tag for another product’s campaign. His delivery in these campaign commercials is effortless.
Straight out of his iconic role as Jim in “The Office,” he’s friendly, approachable, relatable, authentic and of course, conversational male voiceover announcer — there’s no hard sell at all. You actually feel like John is sitting next to you in a coffee shop, just telling you to click or call today.
- Hilton, with Anna Kendrick
Hilton is an iconic global hotel brand: you don’t necessarily associate them with being trendy or youthful upon first glance. Perhaps that’s why they selected Anna Kendrick to be a brand ambassador for them, appearing in on-camera commercials and also providing female voice over for radio, digital and streaming spots.
With her millennial voice, she has a natural sass and snark that really make these spots work. In addition to her on-camera performance, the voiceover performance at the end remains hyper-conversational and approachable. It’s almost like she’s saying, “When you book at Hilton, we’ll be able to hang out by the pool together, and also, we’ll be best friends.” No doubt, a quintessential example of a millennial-style female voice over.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt for LG V10
One of the trends this commercial takes advantage of is the idea of using “found footage” or video recorded “unprofessionally” on cell phone cameras and then spliced together to make a cohesive ad. You’re seeing more and more people’s singing videos, cat videos, #epicfail moments and more get pilfered from streaming sites to be repurposed into commercial advertisements.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt being at the center of this opportunity aligns with his online media commune, HitRecord, where people can share and collaborate on art. There’s an effortlessness to his presence in this commercial, his tone of voice, his attitude and the overall pace and feel that makes this ad feel at home on TV, YouTube or elsewhere.
- Scarlett Johansson for Soda Stream
This ad is a couple of years old, but it still comes to mind when you think about breaking the mold. The SodaStream ad with Scarlett Johansson does what millennials love to do — poke fun at how older generations do/used to do things. At first it starts out like a traditional spot, but then she ponders how to make her product go viral. (Is there anything funnier than watching someone tell you that they’re going to make a viral video? As if you have any actual control over it. /endrant)
Anyway, Scarlett’s textured and deep female voice, complemented by an old fashioned deep male voiceover, along with comedic visuals make this ad stand out. She is a popular reference for female voice actors with casting directors often citing her alto tone, her natural vocal fry, gravelly voice and typical “sexy” delivery — this, along with “Her,” Johansson’s movie with Joaquin Phoenix, are some of our most frequent reference points.
Any of these styles seem like they might fit your brand? If so, use the form below to reach out — we’re always happy to help you build the perfect Millennial voice over campaign.