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More Punch

The trouble with voice-overs.

By John Cadley


More Punch

They say never watch how sausage and legislation are made. You might want to add radio voice-overs to the list.

“Fred? Fred? I need you to read it with more punch.”

“Punch?”

“Yeah, punch—more … MORE.”

“More more?”

“What you just did, only more. And pick it up a little. That one came in at 33 seconds. We need to make up three seconds. OK, people, ready? Anderson Plumbing 30-second radio commercial, Take 4. And … go!”

“Plumbing accidents can happen at any time—usually the most inconvenient times. Dinner for eight and the toilet overflows. Help! Settling in for a cozy evening and a frozen pipe bursts. Yikes! Well, Anderson Plumbing is here to help—just when you need it. You’re in trouble, we’re there on the double—with licensed, factory-trained technicians to fix whatever’s got you in a fix. That’s Anderson Plumbing. 563-4756. That’s 563-4756. Anderson Plumbing—563-4756. We’ll get your plumbing humming.”

“OK, not bad, Fred. Couple of things. I need you to hit the ‘ven’ in ‘inconvenient’ harder. InconVENient. Really hammer it. More punch on the ‘Help!’ too. I mean, don’t yell it but—you know—you’re in trouble. I need to hear it in your voice. Think of a truck coming at you, only, you know, not like you’re gonna die. And the ‘you’re in trouble we’re on the double’ thing. Give it more weight. I need to believe you. It sounds like you’re gonna stop for a doughnut or something. And don’t rush the phone numbers.”

“Do we need them three times? I think that’s why we’re going over.”

“This is radio, Fred. No visuals. We gotta tattoo it on their forehead. Two more things—I know you emphasized the ‘you’ on ‘whatever’s got you in a fix’ but I need it bigger, fatter. Make them imagine their living room is under two inches of water. And the last line—‘we keep your plumbing humming.’ That’s our tagline, Fred. It’s the soul of the brand. I need to hear it like the Gettysburg Address. Sincerity, warmth, passion, dedication—make me want to trust you with my retirement money. And you’re still two seconds over. Ready? Anderson Plumbing 30-second radio—Take 5. And … go!”

“Plumbing accidents can happen ANY time—usually at the most inconVENient times. Dinner for eight and the john blows up. Hellllp! Settling in for a cozy evening and a frozen pipe bursts. Yowser! Well, Anderson Plumbing is here to help—just when you need it. You’re in trouble, we’re there On. The. Double.—with licensed, factory-trained technicians to fix whatever’s got your own self in a fix. That’s Anderson Plumbing. 563-4756. That’s 563-4756. 563-4756. We’ll … Get … Your … Plumbing … Humming.”

“What was that?”

“More punch.”

“You went completely off script. Yowser??!! Where did that come from?”

“I was in the moment.”

“This is plumbing, Fred, not Hamlet. Dial it back a few notches and don’t go rogue on me. And now we’re seven seconds over. Ready? Take 8. Go!”

“Wait. I need some direction. I’m not sure what you want now.”

“Fred? Fred? Listen to me. Are you listening? Imagine your best friend calls and tells you water’s leaking into his basement all over his velvet Elvis paintings. He asks for help. Read the commercial like you’re giving your best friend helpful advice.”

“Is the leak from the toilet?”

YOU’RE THE VOICE-OVER, NOT THE PLUMBER! You don’t need to know. Just talk to your friend. Take 9. Go!”

Well, Frank—

“Stop! Cut! Who’s Frank?”

“My best friend.”

“You’re killin’ me, Fred. I need 30 seconds on clogged drains and you’re giving me your life story. Here’s what we’re gonna do: Take ‘inconvenient’ from Take 2, the ‘on the double’ line from Take 3, ‘Get you in a fix’ from Take 7, and ‘Get your plumbing humming’ from Take 6. Plug all those into Take 1 and we’ll put some Bruno Mars-type music underneath. The client will have to buy it. His wife loves Bruno Mars.”