Question: Would a political ad voice-over by the “Frontline” narrator Will Lyman in political ads mean more credibility for likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or, better yet, is there a female version equally powerful and credible?
A 2015 study published in Political Communication, “In a Different Voice? Explaining the Use of Men and Women as Voice-Over Announcers in Political Advertising,” looks at the frequency, effectiveness and perceptions of credibility when using voice-overs performed by men versus those performed by women in 7,000 ads aired in U.S. legislative elections in 2010 and 2012 political television ads.
The study’s findings include:
- Men voiced more than double the number of political ads in 2010 and 2012 compared to the number of ads voiced by women.
- Of ads containing a voice-over, 62.7 percent featured only a voice-over by a man, while only 27.7 percent contained only a voice-over by a woman.
- Women’s voices were found to be more effective when discussing issues perceived as feminine, such as child-care, healthcare and education with a predicted probability of 41.9 percent.
- Women’s voices were also more likely to be used in negative ads and in ads about a candidate’s personal characteristics, rather than his or her policy proposals.
- Republicans used voice-overs by women much more than Democrats. While the predicted probability for a voice-over by a woman in a Republican ad was 42 percent, and in a Democratic ad 28.3 percent.
Overall, women’s voices were perceived as less credible than men’s voices especially on such issues as crime and foreign policy. While women found women’s voices to be more credible than men did, the gap widened when “women’s issues” were raised.
As the stakes grow in the 2016 presidential race, what would you do if you were running one of the candidate’s campaign?
“Frontline” narrator Will Lyman
I’d consider a female version of Frontline narrator Will Lyman, whose deep, rich, resonant bass voice seems to write his spoken words in stone, at least to me, kind of like the Voice of God. If such a woman’s voice is out there, I’d hire her ASAP for my political ad. But then again, what about “the voice of mom”? We all listened to her, regardless of the issue, at least I did.
Here’s a Mr. Lyman parody of the Dos Esquis commerical, “The Most Interesting Man in the World” but instead lionizing President Obama in politcal ad mode:
So the the reply to the question at the top is, what’s in a voice and how does it affect our perception of truth, power, credibility, and authenticity?
You be the judge.