News posted by www.newsinfoline.com
Dikenta Dike, Forbes.comJon Hamm has had a rapid ascent to stardom thanks to his role as the quintessential pitchman on AMC's hit Mad Men. Now he's not just playing an ad exec on TV, he's the voice of Mercedes-Benz, the quintessential luxury vehicle.Having Hamm narrate Mercedes ads is both a no-brainer and a bit of a stroke of genius--he is nearly synonymous with his TV persona. Still, the job wasn't just handed to him. Mercedes considered more than 200 voices, both known and unknown. "Jon Hamm's voice continued to rise to the top," says Donna Boland, Mercedes-Benz USA's manager of corporate communications. "He was able to intuitively interpret the material we gave him with very little direction."In Pictures: 10 A-List VoicesIn Pictures: TV's Biggest MoneymakersIn Pictures: TV's Biggest MoneymakersSlide Show: Hollywood's Animation A-ListWhere Do Women Social Network? Top 10 SitesHamm is one of a growing number of A-list actors who are applying their vocal stylings to advertising. Commercial voice-over work used to be the domain of a legion of unknowns and just a handful of big stars. Sally Kellerman (Hidden Valley Ranch), Martin Sheen (Maxwell House coffee), Donald Sutherland (Volvo) and a few others would fly under the radar with their voice work. Nowadays, nearly every big name in Hollywood is looking to get in on the game.Other TV stars who have made the leap into voice-over work in recent years: James Spader of ABC's Boston Legal, is the voice of Acura; John Krasinski from NBC's The Office has voiced ads for BlackBerry and Carnival Cruise Lines; and 24 star Kiefer Sutherland is the calming, reassuring voice behind the Bank of America "Bank Of Opportunity" campaign.While A-listers won't pull in nearly as much as for a major motion picture, voice-overs can be very good money--anywhere from $200,000 to $400,000 up front, plus residuals--for very little time, often no more than an hour. Celebs can lay down audio tracks anywhere they are in the world, provided there's a recording studio. It's not unheard of for a star shooting a film overseas to spend a couple of hours doing a voice-over and then return to the set to get on with the next scene.The most lucrative deals are for auto and beer commercials, which get heavy rotation year-round during major sporting events. The residuals from the repeat airings can match or exceed the initial guarantee.Down the food chain, career voice actors can earn $250,000 to $500,000 a year for consistent work, says Treslyn Williams AFTRA's Los Angeles director of commercials. An elite few have pulled down more than a million dollars a year, most notably the late Don LaFontaine, nicknamed "the voice of God," who voiced thousands of movie trailers over the decades.Of the influx of celebrities doing voice-overs, only a few--less than 10--have made it into the million-dollar club. One is Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman. According to Hollywood insiders, Freeman is being paid somewhere between $1 million and $2 million to be the voice of Visa Debit Cards."Morgan Freeman, specifically, was not someone who jumped on the voice-over bandwagon very early on," says Marcia Hurwitz, a veteran commercial voice casting agent and partner at Innovative Artists. "I think it has taken a lot of years for buyers to get someone of his caliber."Other Oscar winners have entered the recording booth for major brands. Kevin Spacey has voiced Honda commercials, Julia Roberts has done ads for AOL, George Clooney has lent his voice to Budweiser and Jeff Bridges is in his third year as the voice of Hyundai.With A-listers going after voice work, inevitably someone loses out. "Every actor has a story about jobs they've lost to celebrities," says voice-over actor Josh Artis. He professes no resentment, saying celebrities have "just as much right to [commercial voice-over work] as anybody."Nonetheless, celebs aren't being handed voice-over gigs on a silver platter. The competition can be fierce, with 25 to 30 campaigns each year that call for big-name voices. The buyer/client works with ad agencies and talent management to seek the right fit; most times actors will lay down demo tracks (for a nominal fee of $500-$2,000) that ad producers edit into preliminary reels for client approval. It's not clear that a star's fame helps advertisers much when they're reduced to an unnamed voice.A 2005 study by marketing researchers Mark Forehand of the University of Washington and Andrew Perkins of Rice University found that a known voice might cause a viewer to think about an ad for a few additional seconds. Marketers say that the goal is simply to find a voice that can deliver the personality and tone of the brand. Says Bank of America senior VP of media relations Joe Goode, "Sometimes the process finds a previously unknown voice, but other times a celebrity's voice will instantly capture and deliver the brand essence." One such celebrity is Willem Dafoe, who is currently the voice of BofA subsidiary Merrill Lynch's Help2 retirement campaign.Celebrities who make the cut tend to use their earnings for side projects, charitable donations or as supplemental income while performing in plays.For some, it can be a way to downshift from an on-screen career. Oscar-winner Gene Hackman's last film role was 2004's Welcome To Mooseport. Hackman has spent the past several years writing novels and voicing commercials for Oppenheimer Funds and Lowe's.
News posted by www.newsinfoline.com
Click here to read more news from www.newsinfoline.com
Please follow our blogs