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a voice over year in review

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I was pinged this morning (and I think we all know painful that can be …ba-dum-bump) by David Ciccarelli who, with his wife Stephanie, own Voices.com. David asked if I would review, post and comment on his annual “Report on The Voice Over Industry 2009”.

OK then, a review with some general perspective and information upfront.

• While I am not a fan of the pay-for-play voice over model upon which Voices.com, Voice 123 and others have built their business, I have stated that if I were to choose one service of that ilk it would be Voices.com because even before I knew the Ciccarellis personally, the customer service and responsiveness their Voices.com offered me when I was an early member was better than any competitor.

• This is at least the second if not third year David has done this report and I give him great credit for seeing an opening for information sharing and promotion of his own business and going for it.

• I also give him credit for daring to ask the opinion of a loud mouth putz like me ‘cause he knows I pull no punches on industry issues or in reviews. He and I must ascribe to the same theory that some publicity is better than none at all.

• Over the years I have become friends with David and Stephanie and know them to be honest people whose opinions and talents I respect. Others in their business, not so much.

So enough preamble, on to the meat-

The 23 page report is more PowerPoint than e-book with each slide offering one or two nuggets of information ranging from various market overviews to drilldowns on pertinent business segments.

My likes:
• I like that David’s established an annual tome that summarizes the industry. It adds credibility to the business but to be taken seriously it needs some additional info (see dislikes).

• I have seen “state of the industry reports” or prognostications from Voices.com’s competitors and comparably this is the most credible and informative of all of them at this moment in time.

• Information like $4.05 for the ad word voice over on Google is good to know (a stupidly high price to pay when its competitors who do most of the clicking on such ads but let’s not kill the messenger here)

• I like the format for both conveying information and for its readability.

My dislikes:
• The content has only a few bits of information that I think are new or enlightening to the industry. To become a must read it has to reveal trends and statistics that offer more insight for voice talents and producers. That requires a great deal more research which this document does not have and it shows rather clearly.

• Some topics struck me as grossly self-serving: a report on Social Networks conveniently notes the growth of a Voice.com sponsored group on Facebook and the Time Spent Online chart had Voices.com’s site crushing Voice 123’s statistically and visually while also noting most industry players spend most of their time on Voices.com. This smacks a bit more like a sales presentation than a industry report.

• The salary statistics chart – probably the most important page for both talent and producers – had no quoted sources for the stated figures (which were much too broad) and was only one page (versus three pages on podcasting). This was a big miss.

• The Touch Graph tool wasn’t simplistic enough or easy enough to immediately digest key information (like a good graph should). As just one (possibly self-serving in keeping here with a developing theme) example this graph had the audio’connell web site listed on the web site graph on “voiceovers” and on the same graph an Oxford biography link to Peter O’Connell who I think is a professor or a Bishop but sure ain’t me (no, I do not believe there are any other Peter O’Connell voice overs but me). The graph was gimmicky and not informative.

In summary, I believe that this report reads more like a sophomore’s term paper rather than a senior thesis. What it can, should and I truly hope will be in the future is a report that has a lot more facts in it, much more pertinent data and more information to help talent and producers manage their businesses. It will take much more time and research from Voices.com to make this annual report a widely respected annual state of the industry. Today, the report is not yet there but there is a foundation of a good idea.

We need that “stuff” as well as the promise of what this report could someday be.

open casting call for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon announcer (very unofficial)

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Whether this becomes an out and out holiday tradition here at audio’connell’s voxmarketising remains to be seen but suffice it to say I’m at it again.

Based on the enormously popular Unofficial Casting Call for the NBC Nightly News announcer, I am today kicking off the Unofficial Casting Call for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon announcer job.

Some points of difference between the two casting calls:

1. The Nightly News audition was in response to what I (and many others) felt/feel was a poor performance by a certain actor (who otherwise is very talented). For the Fallon casting call, I have no knowledge of the new announcer’s (Steve Higgins) ability (which I’m sure is great) nor should this thingy we’re doing here be seen as an indictment of his talents…I wish him great success. This is just for fun and nobody here will be getting the Fallon show job.

2. NBC Nightly News had a well known theme. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has a house band, The Roots, but no theme song that I know of yet so I grabbed a Roots song (“Here I Come” all rights reserved etc.) and edited into a strictly demo theme sample. The music should open up some creative voice imaging opportunities for participants.

The directions to participate are simple and straight forward:

A. Download HERE the demo only theme song (complete with cheering audience to get you into the late night feel)

B. Here is a script (again demo only):

From NBC Studios in New York, It’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Tonight Amy Adams (slight pause) Eddie Izzard (slight pause) and musical guest John Legend

With The Roots

Now here’s your host: Jimmy Fallon!

C. Record your version mixed with the demo theme (note: you should have your audition finish at about :30 seconds into the theme as you’ll note I brought the audience cheering up. If you hit it right it will sound like he just walked out after you said his name. Also remember there would be graphics and likely some animation as part of the intro too.

D. Email it to peter at audio’connell dot com. MP3 file only. File name: YOURLASTNAME_Unofficial_Fallon_Audition

E. I’ll allow submissions until it becomes tedious or boring. Only one entry per voice talent, please.

>>> HERE is where you can LISTEN (but NO voting yet) to all the entrants <<<

Here’s my example to give you a general sense of timing but PLEASE do it with whatever pace and vocal performance style you’d like. Mine is just one way, not necessarily the perfect way.

DEMO EXAMPLE

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

How a winner will be chosen:

i. I’ll get between 3-5 people to serve as judges to pick the top 10 entries
ii. From there I will open up the voting. Don’t vote until I open the voting….I’ll delete any voting posts until I write the “voting is open” post
iii. As for prizes, I got bumpkus. Maybe we’ll get an angel gift giver or someone who wants to re-gift some holiday present, we’ll see.

Anyway, have fun and Merry Christmas. Let’s hear your best stuff!

If you just want to listen to the audition “bed” here it is:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

baseball, logos and buffalo

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I’m not sure if anyone else will care about this post but me and yet there’s a bit of excitement I want to get off my chest on behalf of Mrs. audio’connell who has no idea I’m writing this as she has more pressing daily responsibilities I’ll mention later.

You see, this season was the final one involving the Triple A baseball affiliation between the Cleveland Indians and the Buffalo Bisons (I’ll let you figure out which of those two is the MLB team). Cleveland was a fine team to be associated with but things change.

So the question in the Nickel City this Fall was who would be the Bisons’ new parent club? Two teams were in the running: the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets.

A brief point of historical value here in that Mrs. audio’connell grew up first on Long Island and then in Manhattan. In her house, they were a Mets’ family. In the O’Connell house, the fascination with professional baseball was probably on par with your current interest in professional shot-putting. So when the two houses “merged” 10 years ago, we became a Mets family.

It’s not that I had no interest in baseball or more specifically the Bisons….for many years when they moved into their new home (today rechristened Coca-Cola Field…I would have preferred Pepsi Park myself but no one asked me) I had season tickets. I’ve even voiced a Buffalo Bison commercial.

But when the oft-touted opportunity to secure a MLB team for Buffalo vanished, Bison tickets became a bit less valued. Nice to go to a couple of games but no thanks to a seasons’ worth.

So when the New York Mets and Bisons agreed to an affiliation agreement, my wife was actually giddy. When you manage two children all day long, getting giddy is actually something noteworthy. I think the Mets affiliation will now make it even more fun for us to take the kids to the ball park this season.

From a marketing perspective, in addition to the Coca-Cola Field announcement (which in truth is a great piece of news for the team ownership, fans and the city) the Bisons unveiled their new logo. The new branding ties nicely with the Mets colors and feel but absolutely has great identity all its own. Since I am guessing we’ll be getting some swag in the coming months, I’m glad its stuff I won’t mind wearing. Nice design by Phoenix Design Works.

So New York Mets and Coca-Cola – welcome to Buffalo! We’re glad you’re here.

“i” in the sky

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There’s a road near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport which tunnels under one of the airport’s main runways (depending on wind direction any particular day).

This year this road has provided me with two surprises – both airplane related and none of them tragic or dramatic fortunately.

Early this summer as I was driving down the road in front of me taxied a plane that was blue on the bottom and white on the top carrying that familiar “Engravers” like font that said “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”. When you are used to seeing “Southwest“, “U.S. Airways” or maybe “JetBlue” taxiing in front of your car, seeing what looked like Air Force One kinda stops you in your tracks.

Well it was not Air Force One but it was (as I found out later) the First Lady’s plane (I’ve no idea of its airborne call sign) who was attending a fund raiser. Maybe not fascinating reading for you but some five months later I remain impressed by what I saw.

The second airplane surprise happened this morning on the same road as a plane was landing (or just taking off…I was driving after all so I’m not going to be 100% on plane details). This was a JetBlue plane with completely unique markings near its underside similar to the picture above.

This Jet Blue plane with its Yahoo and Blackberry sponsored in-flight internet access was a fairly new tool that Jet Blue offered (this article fills in the blanks).

As an active flyer I am desperately hoping all airlines get with this program fairly quickly (and keep it free for goodness sake) so that airtime can be oh so much more productive and, dare I say, enjoyable?! Hint, hint U.S. Airways!

Wouldn’t you like in-flight internet access too?

charlie brown’s ad agency christmas

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The kids who slapped this one together put a lot of thought and energy into it.

Very funny parody. Enjoy.

“the strongest logos tell simple stories.”

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EDITORS NOTE: To be clear – this is a post about marketing, not about politics. Marketing sometimes disappoints. Politics always disappoints.

Whether or not you voted for Barack Obama for President, if you have any vested interest in marketing (and every business person does) you have to respect what the branding design, plan and execution meant to the success of his candidacy (even if he hadn’t won the election).

The branding of the Obama campaign was a political game changer. In the next election, everyone will try and use this playbook but this branding plan was the inauguration that really matters to marketers.

In my opinion, some people voted more for the concept of Obama and his possibilities than the actual man himself (people at a crossroads or caught up in a euphoric state – as politics can often initiate- often make many decisions that way). Branding had to play a key role in shaping that mind set.

Enjoy watching designer Sol Sender, part of the trio that initially developed the now infamous mark, talk about its birth and evolution. There is not a business in existence that cannot learn a lot from this process.

Part 1

Part 2