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Companies with Golden Voices: Who Has the Best Voice Over?

There are some jobs that I know I couldn’t do in a million years. Anything involving blood, no thanks! Well, I’ve also added ‘voice over chooser’ to this list after spending a Saturday night nursing a cold (I’ll explain that part in a second). There are so many factors that marketers and advertisers must consider before hiring someone to vocalize their product’s features. Some companies do an excellent job, while others are lacking. Let’s look at the best ones today.

While I settled in with my chicken noodle soup and hot tea, a commercial came on for Michigan and the warm, caramel voice of Tim Allen entered my living room. I not only felt my scratchy throat and stuffy nose lessen, but my soul was uplifted too at the scene of the changing leaves along Lake Michigan. I immediately had a thought that if I had a million dollars, I would pay Tim Allen to walk behind me for a day and narrate my life.

Now, I know there are flaws to this plan. One, I think I’d need more than a million dollars to get Tim to do this. Two, if he would do this for a day that would mean he wouldn’t be recording commercials for Michigan’s tourism board, which would be sad. So, instead I compiled a list of celebrities that have made listening to commercials a lot easier to handle and present them to you in this blog.

  • Tim Allen

    Tim Allen

    Tim Allen: No matter the season, I love hearing Tim Allen’s voice come through my car speakers to paint a picturesque scene of utter tranquility. Hiking through the forest while the leaves slowly change above me? Count me in! Ice skating on a lake while a fire is made in the nearby cabin’s fireplace? Heavenly. Getting caught in a rainstorm while touring a small Michigan town? Name the town and I’ll be there! Fishing in Lake Michigan while the sun slowly sets behind me? I’ll grab the worms! He’s been the voice of Pure Michigan’s commercials for the past few years and I’m not the only one who’d pay him to talk about the simple pleasure of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. According to Forbes in 2009, Michigan’s “Pure Michigan” campaign ranked sixth out of the top 10 travel campaigns. If you haven’t heard Tim Allen’s work or just need a quick thirty-second vacation, I suggest checking out their YouTube Channel.

  • Zach Braff

    Zach Braff

    Zach Braff: I was an avid viewer of Scrubs for a couple years, but even though I dropped it, I still love the sound of Zach’s voice as he tells me the benefits of clean water straight from the tap with a Pur Water Filter. He reminds you of that buddy from college that would always lend an ear and offer great advice. His voice has a playful, yet trusting quality that you can’t help but want to turn up the volume and listen to. His quirky sense of humor that has made him famous really shines through with his random litany of quotes about how amazing this filter is: “Booyah! Shazam! H-2-Ohhhhhh! Hydrolicious! Look what I can do! Magic bananaaaaas! Adios contaminos!” For the full commercial, check out this clip:

  • Morgan Freeman

    Morgan Freeman

    Morgan Freeman: I can’t imagine watching Bruce Almighty or Evan Almighty without having Morgan Freeman as God. His voice is so warm and comforting, like putting on a sweatshirt straight out of the dryer, that this match just makes sense. This same feeling applied to his voice over work for Visa that aired during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics again gave me chills (the good kind). Freeman may be an obvious choice for voice overs, but he does them so well that I couldn’t help but mention him as one of the greats! Check out the video below to see what I mean:

Picking the right actor for a commercial’s voice over can’t be an easy business to get into. Advertisers need to select the right person who can convey all your product’s attributes, without having people instantly know who it is and risk them losing focus on your commercial.

Michigan’s tourism board, Pur Water Filters, and Visa have done an outstanding job selecting these celebrities to be the voice behind their brands. Who would you select for yours?

Are there any commercials that you love the voice over work? Is there a celebrity you’d pay to narrate your life? If so, who? Sound off below!

 Image credit to lwpkommunikacio, farlane, and polymath blues.


Amy Swanson

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ content developers and social media coordinators. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can connect with Amy on

Comments

  1. Eric

    Tim Allen’s the voice of “Pure Michigan?!?” Did not know that! If only I could forgive their “Oh-crap-we’ve-got-30-seconds-to-play-all-of-the-melody-we-possibly-can” musical cut from the “Cider House Rules” soundtrack. Lovely commercials, though.

    Morgan Freeman narrates, literally, everything. Shelley and I went to Disney World a couple years ago, and I’d never been to the Hall of Presidents. Sure, there’ve been a few new additions since I went to Disney last in 1995 (understatement!), but the best surprise of all?

    Mr. Freeman narrating the Hall of Presidents…I’m pretty sure the second his voice was heard there was an ovation in the theatre. Too funny.

    Who I’d like to hear do narration, voice-overs, heck, both? James McAvoy. I’ve watched a couple of movies with him in as many days, now, and he’s got a gift for just making everything he says interesting to listen to. When you live in a monotone, everything-inflects-downward America, well, let’s just says it’s a refreshing alternative. Hopefully he narrates something soon.

    Great post!

    • amy

      That’s too funny about Morgan Freeman and Disney’s Hall of Presidents. I’d be surprised too when his voice would come through the speakers! What’s next for him, telling me to watch for suspicious behavior while at O’Hare?

      James McAvoy would be great, I don’t mean to sound like an anglophile but anyone with a British – or I guess in his case a Scottish – accent sounds intelligent. He would be a refreshing alternative in American advertising and I’d gladly sign a petition to bring him over for some commercials LOL

    • Rachel

      TOTALLY AGREED about James McAvoy! His voice is lovely. Also, I might be a little obsessed with him. He’s done various British and American accents for various movies, but his native Scottish accent is best. I’d pay him to follow me around and narrate my life, no questions asked! :)

  2. Peemo

    I would have walked over and punched you if you didn’t have my Grandpa, Morgan Freeman on this list.

    So, thank you!

    • amy

      And forget the voice of God?! That’s a sin on so many levels LOL

  3. JPorretto

    If someone makes a movie about Morgan Freeman… who narrates it? Is that like dividing by zero? Will the world end?

    No offense to the other two on the list, but I don’t think they are even in the same class as Mr. Freeman. I can listen to that guy ramble on about pretty much anything…

    • amy

      I had never thought about who would narrate Morgan Freeman’s life if it were a documentary. I think you just wouldn’t do a narration then, who would even want to attempt it? Such a thought-provoking conundrum, Jeff!

      He is a man in his own class that’s for sure, but he’s got about 16 years on Tim Allen and 38 years on Zach Braff. Some guy’s voices just get better with age, we’ll just have to see what happens :)

      • jovaniki

        Dennis Haysbert (currently the voice and face of State Farm) would be suitable to narrate for Morgan Freeman. His voice is beautiful. It made me forgive him for being a cheater in a couple of movies. :-)

        Also, I realize that this isn’t a comprehensive list and was brief, but I think Patrick Dempsey was great for Mazda-his voice is as pleasing as the rest of him, and John Corbett leaves you “feeling good in the neighborhood” (Applebee’s). He’s also the current voice of Walgreen’s.

        That’s my two cents!

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    Maybe it’s the fantasy/sci-fi/comic lover in me, but I think that Sir Ian McKellen has a fantasy voice for telling stories. His narration of Stardust is SPOT ON and from what I understand, he’s done a fair amount of voice over work in the UK. I would pay for him to make my everyday happenings sound epic.

    “And then, with a daring snap of her fingers, Mandy typed the latest product description with such fury that even the eye of Mordor had to blink.”

    Come on over to American advertising, McKellen! The water (and the paycheck) is fine!

    • amy

      Hahaha, i love your mini narration, Mandy! I could totally hear Sir Ian McKellen actually say that! Along with James McAvoy, I’d sign a petition to have him come over to the states for some voice over work ;)

  5. Joseph Giorgi

    Great examples, Amy! I wasn’t aware of these campaigns before now, but I can see why you chose them.

    Now that I think about it from an “audio” standpoint, I can see what you mean about Tim Allen’s voice. He’s a great actor and all, but his voice is definitely a big part of his likability. And words can’t even describe the power of Morgan Freeman’s voice.

    If I were going to have a celebrity narrate my life, I’d opt for Tom Hanks. :)

    • amy

      Excellent choice, Joe! I can honestly say that every Tom Hanks movie I’ve seen, I’ve loved. Granted, I haven’t seen them all but I’m working on it.

      I think that’s exactly what it comes down to, if an actor and actress is likeable they seem more more genuine and down to earth. I don’t think I’d like to hear Donald Trump try to sell me a water filter or credit card.

  6. Cybernetic SAM

    Ooooooooooohhhh! Zach Braff! I also really like Casey Affleck for the new anti-virus software. He has such an awesome recognizable voice! I love being able to recognize unique celeb voice overs. I think I pay more attention to ads when I am trying to pin-point what celebrity it is. When they use an obvious celeb it’s not as fun. I also think it would be neat to have Jon Hamm do some voice overs; after all, he is already the voice of advertising.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Sam, he does voice overs for Mercedes-Benz!

      • Cybernetic SAM

        Oh sweet! I had no idea! very fitting!

    • amy

      More often than not I try to figure out who the voice in a commerical is, always have and probably always will LOL. I know John Slattery (Roger Sterling Jr from Mad Men) is in and narrates Lincoln MKX’s commercials. Yet another voice like velvet ;)

  7. Kyle

    I had NO idea Tim Allen voiced the “Pure Michigan” commercials. I find those commercials to be quite awesome, but I also find Michigan to be a quite awesome place to visit so I might be biased. I remember hearing one on the radio the night before leaving for Michigan and I actually got goosebumps. Of course this was more due to my excitement for the trip, but they are quality commercials regardless.

    And there isn’t much to say about Morgan Freeman that hasn’t already been said. He can narrate just about anything and still hold your attention with his soothing voice. I wonder how many movies/tv shows he has narrated…

    • amy

      Morgan Freeman’s IMDB is filled with a lot of his voice over contributions, but not all are mentioned. I’d say a safe number would be around 50, at least LOL.

      Tim Allen also does the voice for Campbell’s soup, which are also nice but aren’t as “awwww-inducing” like the Michigan commercials. It seems the Michigan commercials are specifically tugging at our heart strings with a ‘mood style’ campaign, whereas Campbell’s goal is to show how healthy and delicious their soups are in a ‘beneficial style’ campaign.

      Wow, random advertising rant there. Thanks for commenting, Kyle!

  8. Michelle

    I LOVE the Pure Michigan commercials. Whenever I hear the commercials on the radio I literally stop to listen to it. Tim Allen has really made me want to go to Michigan, he just makes it sound so lovely! He is by far my favorite voice over. I also enjoy Patrick Dempsey’s voice overs. :)

    • amy

      I do the same thing Michelle! It’s the combination of the music and his voice that always gets to me. No complaints though ;)

  9. Tony Promo

    Gilbert Godfried got ROBBED in this post.

    ROBBED!

    • amy

      I’m sure he’s making pretty good bank working with Aflac. Wouldn’t want to strain his vocal cords any more than what they are.

  10. Rachel

    Great post, Amy! And I love all the ideas in the comments, too. I’d add John Krasinski to the list–he has done voice overs for Blackberry commercials and some cruise line company, I think? I’m probably biased by my love of him on The Office, but I always like to hear his voice. :) And I think Patrick Stewart would be another great British addition to the list!

    • amy

      How could I forget about John Kransinski?! I loved his BlackBerry commercials and Carnival Cruise Lines ads!

      We’d better start writing these awesome voice over actors that need to be better recognized ;)

      • jovaniki

        He’s also the voice of eSurance. I am in love with that man! I forgot him in my earlier post, but I considered changing my insurance the moment I heard his voice. And Patrick Stewart almost goes without saying!

  11. Jen

    My favorite commercial voice actor is still Michael C. Hall. I get chills when I hear his voice on the Dodge commercials. I also like Sofía Vergara’s voice. Her accent is thick, but I think it is so pretty. She does an xfininty commercial, I think, I hear it on the radio all the time. :) Nice post Amy!

    • amy

      I didn’t know that Michael C. Hall did Dodge’s commercials! I always wondered who that was!!!! My mind is officially blown!

  12. Amanda

    Great picks here Amy! Morgan Freeman and Tim Allen are at the top of the list for sure!!!! =) As you know, I’ve been listening to audio books for a while now, and I love them! And I’m 100% sure that has a ton to do with the voice of the reader. No matter how good the story is, or how much I like the author’s other books, if the reader’s voice is bad/cold/and on and on, it’s not going to be a good audio book! Period. Voice is soo important for things like commercials and audio books. I think it’s somewhat overlooked nowadays, or people maybe just don’t notice it so much–but it can easily make or break a production of any kind. I think this was such a great idea for a blog post! Very well done! =)

    • amy

      Awww, thanks so much for reading Amanda :)

      I’m with you in that voice is very important, it can convey such emotion that it can give you chills. It’s been years since I’ve listened to an audio book, but I can totally understand how important the narrator is to the overall plot of the book. You wouldn’t want to hear some high pitched, annoying voice read “A Tale of Two Cities” or some serious, dramatic voice reading “Bridget Jones’ Diary”. It just wouldn’t fit or make sense. Great point!

  13. Jill Tooley

    Oooh, I love all of their voices. The Pure Michigan campaign is new to me, but it’s so cool! It sort of puts Michigan back on the map as far as vacation destinations go. Tim Allen is awesome!

    I’d pay Will Arnett to narrate my life. I LOVE his voice so much. It’s got this raspy, sexy, attention-grabbing element to it.

    I’m with you…the person who has to match these voices with a campaign doesn’t exactly have an easy job! But it would be fun to try…

    • Amy Swanson

      Will Arnett would be a great voice to hear during a commercial. I agree that his voice quality is one that would make me stop what I was doing and actually watch the commercial to see if he was in it :)

      I wonder how many voices they listen to before making a decision, or do they just know, “we like Tim Allen and we want him”. It would be fun to watch and find out!

  14. Million-Dollar Voices: Do Celebrity Narrations Get You to Purchase?

    [...] the slogan “Pure Michigan,” it made perfect sense for Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor to do the voice overs.But this begs the question: DOES THE CELEB STRATEGY WORK?If you recognize the actor, are you more [...]

  15. Bruce Peck

    Great commercials. Great choices listed above. Don’t know his name the actor that say’s “Your in Good Hands” is wonderful as well.

    I tought Tim Allen sounded like Robert Redford. Another warm voice.

    • Amy Swanson

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Bruce :)

      Dennis Haysbert is the voice of Allstate and their “You’re in Good Hands” jingle, which I agree is quite wonderful indeed!

      I never thought of Robert Redford before, but you’re right! His voice is really nice to listen to and one I wouldn’t mind hearing on the TV or radio. An excellent addition to the list! Thank you!

  16. 5 Company Founders Who Jumped Into Their Brand’s TV Commercials

    [...] ZimmerAdvertising Tactic: Story-tellingZimmer’s voice is like melted caramel (Tim Allen in his ‘Pure Michigan’ commercials has a bit of competition now). It’s so deep and velvety that he could read from the phone book [...]

  17. Heather

    Has nobody mentioned Matthew McConaughey? I thought for sure someone would. My oh my can he sell some beef. Mmmm! ;). Having him narrate my life might get…distracting, but I think I could deal.

  18. Justin F

    Robert Redford for me. Just watch a ‘River Runs Through It’. He has a voice that I could listen too all day

  19. Elaine Millward

    I love the voice of the DAB radio advert, D Love……Whoever he is, he is soooooo sexy. Does anyone know who does the voice for this character :-)

  20. Jessica Fields

    Great blog! As a full-time working voice actor, I can tell you the top female voices people request the sound of are Ashley Judd, Kathleen Turner, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Maya Angelou. But most of the commercials you’re watching are narrated by people like me. You’ve never seen our faces, but you hear our voices on radio, TV, product videos and eLearning every day. We prefer that the film actors stay in film. :)

    • Amy Swanson

      Hey Jessica! Thanks so much for giving your insight on this industry, I honestly don’t know much about it. I can’t say I blame you though for wanting film actors to stay in film and not step on your turf ;) Thank you for the comment and I hope you have a great day!

  21. Jessica Fields

    Oh, and how could we forget Sigourney Weaver and the Planet Earth series?

  22. Pastor Willie

    I have a radio and television background. One of my goals at 60 years of age, is to do national television commercials and voice overs. I would even consider international television commercials. Have you heard of Dante’ Carver? Dante’ Carver [check YouTube] is the black, internationally renowned commercial actor in Japan. Yes, Japan. After becoming frustrated with lack of opportunity in the U.S., he flew to Japan, taught himself Japanese, auditioned for various parts and in a short period of time, he became the first and only black commercial actor. He is a graduate of Virginia University. Dante’ is an example of perseverance and persistence.

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