I know these days with the likes of DVRs, Netflix, AppleTV, Hulu and the like, we’ve all sort of become accustomed to fast-forwarding through commercials. But as voiceover artists, we shouldn’t do that! Looking at existing commercials is a great research tool!
First, you’ll get an idea of what styles are popular right now, or what styles are used for specific products. You can also start to get a good feel for what is effective and what isn’t. Close your eyes so that you’re not focusing on the visuals, and just listen to the voiceover. How is it delivered? What’s the style? How do you relate to it? Can you realistically perform that type of style?
It can also be a good tool for you to practice. I know when I’m driving around in my car I pay a lot more attention to the ads on the radio now. And I even find myself repeating them, or lines from them, to see how my delivery compares. Now, I’m not saying you should imitate or mimic someone else, because as we all know the reason you’ll get hired is because of what you bring to the table, not because you “sounded kinda like that other guy.” But it’s good practice to try to work on specific styles (for example, I’ve seen several postings lately that are looking for a style similar to Allison Janney’s Kaiser Permanente ads).
So while it might be tempting to hit that fast-forward button on the DVR, go ahead and watch the ads. You might just learn something!