Revised: September 2021
We all suffer occasionally from the nagging sensation that a voice on the radio or TV seems incredibly familiar. Doesn’t that person encouraging you to buy insurance or telling you about their adventures with cleaning dirty clothes sound like someone famous?
Well, the truth is that there are plenty of big female stars out there who have found a lucrative second career in the world of UK voice-overs.
Using celebrities in advertising is a great way to build brand credibility, and to help your product stand out in a crowded market. By featuring the voice of a well-loved celebrity, audiences may be more likely to pay attention, and, ultimately, make a purchase.
So, which of the following actresses and comediennes have changed the way you feel about a brand?
One of the most famous and successful voice overs of all time was when Dervla Kirwan went completely overboard while telling us about the seductive qualities of a Marks and Spencer’s chocolate pudding. Her sultry performance left the nation breathless, and desperate to try out this orgasmic pudding for themselves.
The Irish actress has since admitted that she “went totally over the top” when doing this and that she “can’t stop laughing” whenever she hears the ad. However, it was a great success so maybe going over the top now and then isn’t a bad thing.
Of course, advertisers look for different types of voice over talent depending upon what they want to sell and what their target market is. If they want a wacky, confident and instantly recognisable voice that conveys a sense of fun and irony then many of them decide to call Ruby Wax.
The American actress has lent her voice to adverts for a number of brands, such as Pepsi, WH Smith and the Carphone Warehouse. You may also have recognised her voice in the controversial and short-lived Popetown animated series if you caught it before it was dropped.
If you are looking for a posh voice that can also do comedy then Joanna Lumley is probably the first name to spring to mind, well apart from Prince Charles maybe. This actress was brilliant in Absolutely Fabulous and has put her plummy vocal chords to good use in ads for the likes of Privilege insurance and Twinings Tea.
Some companies use this type of high-class British voice over to exude a sense of quality and posh-ness to their product. When the consumer makes a purchase they are essentially buying into the life-style of the brand message. It’s a popular choice particularly with cosmetic companies. Other firms go for a more down to earth voice that they feel people can relate to more easily.
Her role in Broadchurch has made her one of the UK’s most recognisable actresses but Olivia has also carried out plenty of voice over work as well. The list of those companies who have paid for her voice include the likes of Sky Box Office, BBC, Sainsbury’s, Airwick and Andrex.
She has had plenty of practise at using her voice, as she has also been a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4 comedy shows over the years. Did you recognise her distinctive voice talking about politics without seeing her?
Another actress who has made the most of a well-known voice is Nicola Walker. The Last Tango in Halifax star has popped up on a few different occasions to sell us things.
Toyota, Freeview, Nationwide and Max Factor are among her voice over clients. Is this the kind of familiar voice that you need for an ad campaign, or do you prefer the benefits of using a voice that people don’t already associate with TV shows or other products?
Sorry guys, can’t find any of her ads on YouTube but do you recognise her voice? Fire a tweet over if you find any of her work.
Regional accents in the UK are highly sought after these days as it was discovered that consumers tend to trust those English voice over artists with a familiar accent, making it a rising trend for 2017. This is terrific news for actresses like Stockport born Sally Lindsay but less so for Hugh Grant and minor royalty.
She played Shelley in Coronation Street but how many people instantly recognised her tones on Bet365, Sky1, Sainsbury’s and Google+ ads?
Funny ladies also tend to be in great demand for voice over work as well. This means that someone like Julia Davis can make a very nice career out of this kind of work.
The actress and comedienne has encouraged us to buy from companies as diverse as MasterCard, Renault, British Gas and Vodafone over the years. Her friendly voice is certainly one that people are happy to have associated with their brand.
Have you heard this voice somewhere?
Of course, actresses doing voice over work for ads isn’t a purely British phenomenon. Indeed, some of the world’s biggest female stars have earned a fortune from this type of work.
In the case of Jennifer Aniston, she has been the voice of Aveeno facial scrubs and Emirates Airlines among others. Does she have the type of female voice that encourages you to choose one product or service over another?