Voice Overs from the 2020 Super Bowl Commercials: A Breakdown


Unsurprisingly
, the 2020 Super Bowl inspired some of the best creative in TV advertising. And many of those ads included a key piece: voice over.

I thought to myself…

Can’t we learn something from these ads?

The top creatives in the world strut their stuff this time of year. And voice seekers like you (and voice over actors like me) can study their work to discover what voice read styles are current or what role the voice overs are playing in the year’s pinnacle of TV commercials.

So, I decided to do just that.

I gathered every ad that featured voice over during this year’s Super Bowl (27 total) and laid out some important details and findings:

Key Overall Takeaways (Click to skip ahead)
Voice Over Read Style

 Voice Age Range
Name of Voice Actor (bummed I couldn’t find more names)
Agency Behind the Spot
Key Overall Takeaways
And My Favorite Voice Over Performance

There were a lot of ads with voice over this year, so let’s dive right in.

p.s. If I missed a national ad with voice over or if you know who the voice actor is for a specific ad, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll fix it as soon as possible.


Brand: Amazon Prime Video
Ad:
Hunters
Agency: 
Amazon Studios (I think)

Voice Style: American, Patriotic, Rugged, Almost Promo-like
Voice Age Range: 40
Voice Actor: Not Available

My Take: This was a classic swerve. I really liked their use of voice over here. It feels like a typical beer commercial and then bam – the plate drops. I could be wrong, but if you listen to the voice over a few times, you can almost sense the swerve coming – he has just the tiniest hint of evil in his voice.

Brand: Bud Light/Bud Light Seltzer
Ad:
#PostyStore
Agency:
Wieden & Kennedy

Voice Style: End Tag – Straightforward, Textured, Confident, Matches the Ad Style
Voice Age Range: 30
Voice Actor: Not Available

Brand: Budweiser
Ad:
Typical American
Agency:
David Miami

Voice Style: Rugged, Everyman, (Faux) Disdain, Sarcasm, Patriotic, Anthemic
Voice Age Range: 50-60
Voice Actor: Dan Dunlap

My Take: The voice actor (Dan) crushed it here. The creative is to give his voice some sarcasm/faux disdain with the obvious acts of bravery, love, hard work, etc. But his apparent disdain wasn’t mean-spirited. He raised his eyebrow to nod to the viewer, as if to say, “Yea, I’m kidding. These people kick ass. Americans are awesome. Drink Budweiser.”

Brand: Cheetos
Ad: 
Can’t Touch This
Agency: 
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

Voice Style: End Tag – Himself with Attitude, Hip Hop Style, Energy
Voice Age Range: 40
Voice Actor: MC Hammer – Celebrity

Brand: Discover
2 Ads: 

No, We Don’t Charge Annual Fees
Yes, We’re Accepted

Agency: 
The Martin Agency

Voice Style: End Tag – Relaxed, Friendly, Buddy, Guy Next Door – Mirror of Fun TV/Movie Clips
Voice Age Range: 20-30
Voice Actor: Not Available

Brand: Donald J. Trump
Ad: 
Stronger, Safer, More Prosperous
Agency: 
Not Available – Donald Trump’s Campaign

Voice Style: Strong, Confident, Attitude, Invoking Action, Promo
Voice Age Range: 50-60
Voice Actor: Not Available

My Take: This is a classic political spot. Voice overs in political ads are always a hair (or more) over-the-top in their delivery than “normal” commercials. Here, the voice actor is pushing the candidate’s accomplishments with energy, hopefulness, pride, and gravitas.

Brand: Doritos
Ad:
The Cool Ranch feat. Lil Nas X and Sam Elliott
Agency:
Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Voice Style: Classic Sam Elliott sound – Cool Cowboy, Gravitas, Rugged, Wry, Confident
Voice Age Range:
60-70
Voice Actor: Sam Elliott – Celebrity

Brand: Google
Ad: 
Loretta
Agency: 
In-house at Google

Voice Style: Real Person, Could Be Your Granpda, Actual Submissions to Google, Genuine Happiness and Nostalgia
Voice Age Range:
80-90
Voice Actor: Grandpop (as stated by Google)

Brand: Hummer
Ad: 
Quiet Revolution
Agency:
Leo Burnett Detroit

Voice Style: Cool, Himself, Confident – Celebrity Endorsement for New Product
Voice Age Range:
30-something
Voice Actor: Lebron James – Celebrity

My Take: So far, we’ve had 3 out of 9 commercials use celebrity voice overs. For those in the VO community who say “they only use celebrity voices” for Super Bowl ads, clearly, there’s still plenty of room for us.

Brand: Hulu
Ad: 
Tom Brady’s Big Announcement
Agency: 
Not Available – Hulu In-house?

Voice Style: Cool, Contemplative, Himself, Confident – Celebrity Endorsement
Voice Age Range:
30-40
Voice Actor: Tom Brady – Celebrity

Brand: Hyundai
Ad: 
Smaht Pahk
Agency: 
Innocean

Voice Style: Relaxed, Friendly, Non-Accented, Assuring
Voice Age Range:
30-40
Voice Actor: Not Available

Brand: Hyundai Genesis
Ad:
Going Away Party
Agency:
Innocean

Voice Style: End Tag – Cool, Relaxed, Obvious Smile, Luxury with Attitude, Future-feeling
Voice Age Range:
30-40
Voice Actor: Not Available

Brand: Kia
Ad:
Tough Never Quits
Agency: 
David & Goliath

Voice Style: Himself – both within the spot and VO mixed, Contemplative, Inspiring, Conversational, Real
Voice Age Range:
20-something
Voice Actor: Josh Jacobs – Celebrity

Brand: Little Caesar’s
Ad:
Sliced Bread
Agency:
McKinney

Voice Style: High Energy, Big Sell, Cheesy-ish (no pun intended)
Voice Age Range: 
30-40
Voice Actor: Not Available

My Take: This is a great match of brand and voice. Little Caesar’s has always been a goofy, fun brand and this spot/voice is no different. p.s. I love seeing Rainn Wilson on TV.

Brand: Michelob Ultra
Ad:
6 for 6-pack
Agency:
FCB

Voice Style: Intelligent, Smooth, Classy but Relatable, Little Bit of a Wink
Voice Age Range: 
30-40
Voice Actor: Not Available

Brand: Microsoft
Ad:
Be The One / Katie Sowers
Agency:
McCann New York

Voice Style: Herself, Conversational, Real Story
Voice Age Range: 
30-something
Voice Actor: Katie Sowers – Real Person

Brand: New York Life
Ad:
Love Takes Action
Agency:
Anomaly

Voice Style: Herself – Emotional, Inspiring, Confident, Conversational
Voice Age Range: 
30-something
Voice Actor: Tessa Thompson

My Take: This may be my favorite voice over performance from any Super Bowl ad this year. Yes, I know. It’s a celebrity. However, Tessa Thompson isn’t a household name like Lebron James or Harrison Ford. She makes you feel like she’s talking right to you, speaking directly from her mind, and explaining something important. It feels real. And that last line? More of this, please.

Brand: NFL
Ad:
Inspire Change
Agency: 
In-house NFL (I think)

Voice Style: Himself, Real, Storyteller, Reminiscent
Voice Age Range:
30-something
Voice Actor: Anquan Boldin – Celebrity

Brand: Planters
Ad:
Tribute
Agency:
VaynerMedia and Starcom

Voice Style: Voice of Mr. Peanut – Conversational, Calm, Relaxed, Straightforward, Opposite Mood of Sad/Crying Commercial
Voice Age Range:
30-something
Voice Actor: Not Available

My Take: This is the first time a voice actor has been the voice of an animated character in any of these ads. They contrasted the over-the-top sadness of Mr. Peanut’s death with this calm, normal, relaxed voice. Mr. Peanut is not worried, unlike everyone else.

Brand: Quibi
Ad:
Bank Heist
Agency:
BBH LA

Voice Style: Cool, Attitude, Raised Eyebrow, Mysterious
Voice Age Range:
30-something
Voice Actor: Not Available

My Take: It’s always interesting to see new brands come to the table with an ad. Quibi came out with a bang with this action-packed, movie-like commercial. The voice matches that style – almost like the voice actor could be part of the heist. 

Brand: Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage
Ad: 
Comfortable
Agency: 
Highdive

Voice Style: Everyman, Laid Back, Friendly
Voice Age Range:
30-something
Voice Actor: Not Available

Brand: Hershey Co. – Reese’s Take 5
Ad:
Rock
Agency:
McGarryBowen

Voice Style: Movie Trailer, Promo, Strong
Voice Age Range:
50
Voice Actor: Not Available

Brand: SodaStream
Ad:
SodaStream Discovers Water On Mars: Fresh Sparkling Water In Seconds
Agency:
Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Voice Style: Cool, Energetic, Semi-whispery, Futuristic
Voice Age Range: 
30-40
Voice Actor: Not Available

Brand: Toyota
Ad:
Heroes
Agency:
Saatchi & Saatchi

Voice Style: Herself – Motherly, Assured, Calm, Confident
Voice Age Range: 
30-40
Voice Actor: Cobi Smulders – Celebrity

Brand: Verizon
Ad:
The Amazing Things 5G Won’t Do
Agency:
McCann New York

Voice Style: Himself – Storyteller, Confident, Contemplative, Gravitas
Voice Age Range: 
60-70
Voice Actor: Harrison Ford – Celebrity

Brand: Walmart
Ad:
Famous Visitors
Agency: 
Publicis Groupe’s Department W

Voice Style: Famous animated characters playing themselves
Voice Age Range: 
Not Applicable
Voice Actor(s): Too many to list

Brand: Weathertech
Ad: 
Lucky Dog
Agency:
In-house Weathtech

Voice Style(s): Scout Voice – Friendly Neighbor, Cool, Inspiring; End Tag – Confident, Inspiring, Real
Voice Age Range: 
30-40
Voice Actor: Not Available

My Take: Shoutout to Weathertech for using not only one voice actor throughout their ad but another one for the end tag. And other than the Planter’s commercial, this is the only ad that featured a character (dog) voiced by a human.

Key Takeaways


  • Connector.

    Celebrities accounted for 8 of the 27 ads featuring voice over

    Many pro voice actors bemoan the use of celebrities in big TV commercials, but as we can see here, there is still massive opportunity for non-celebrity voices.

  • Connector.

    Announcer-y is not dead

    While the “real” person read still reigns supreme, the “announcer-y” read is far from dead and still occupies a large space in some of the country’s most expensive commercials.

  • Connector.

    Age is just a number

    The 30-40 year old age range was expectedly the most popular, but younger and especially older voices were prominent throughout.

  • Connector.

    Voice over as mirror or contrast

    The juice in most ads was the live actors involved (celebrities, actors, etc.) while the voice over served as a mirror for the action at the end of the ad or as a direct contrast to the silliness or seriousness of the ad. However, the few ads which used voice over as storyteller (New York Life, Budweiser, Google) were my favorite. Shocking.

  • Connector.

    My favorite voice over performance

    Tessa Thompson in New York Life’s “Love Takes Action” ad drew me in from the start and left me wanting more. I’ve already watched it about ten times. Listen to how she differentiates each kind of love and makes each feel important but ultimately contrasts them all with “Agape” as the highest form. It sounds like a story from beginning to end – as if she studies Greek literature and mythology, so this is a passion for her. It’s effortless throughout (even though we know it’s not). *chef’s kiss*

  • Connector.

    What was your biggest takeaway from these ads?

    Comment below to share your insights.


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