Last month, we sent our school mailing list a “Super Bowl scavenger hunt” to aid our students in watching the year’s biggest commercials with a critical eye. We received many responses, and I wanted to share some of the biggest take-aways.
The all-time favorite commercial was the Twilight Zone promo featuring Jordan Peele. The spot was intriguing from the get-go, and the storyteller voice-over took you on a journey into the unknown.
The choices for most memorable ad were the Google translation commercial and the Kia Telluride commercial. The writing for both spots was sincere and thoughtful and the voice over matched it perfectly. The Google script featured a unique, reassuring, international voice, while the Kia commercial conveyed vulnerability as strength through the voice of a young boy. Although the deep, (often announcery) voices tended to dominate the Super Bowl ads once again, it was the raw, unique, and vulnerable spots that stood out as most memorable. It’s curious that the spots that went against the stereotypical, masculine sports-fan were the ones that stuck with us.
Otherwise, there was a lot of variety: many of the reads were warm and friendly, smoky or sensual, high energy or announcery, and there were even a handful done in character.
The biggest observation that nearly everyone spoke about was the glaringly uneven ratio of commercials voiced by men versus women. We counted 35 spots voiced by men and only 10 voiced by women. That’s right, less than one third of the voice over was performed by women. One might argue that it makes sense in an event with a predominantly male audience, however a recent Forbes article states that “in 2017, the NFL estimated roughly 45% of football fans were female, [and in 2018] women constituted about 49% of the 108 million-plus people who watched the game.” Half of the audience is women, which raises the question: if there is equal representation in the audience, why isn’t there equal representation in the voice over?
Perhaps the uniqueness and vulnerability that we saw will continue to evolve in voice over throughout the course of the year. Maybe at the next Super Bowl we’ll hear even more of what we already know: that women can sell to sports fans, that soft-spoken men can raise our spirits, and that unique voices can inspire us.