I hear voices (in my meeting): Word of Mouth takes its talent to the iPhone

  • Mobile
  • March 18, 2013
  • Ben Fahy
I hear voices (in my meeting): Word of Mouth takes its talent to the iPhone

Finding the right voice is a crucial component of many ad campaigns, as this brilliant commercial shows. And Word of Mouth is trying to make that job a little bit easier with the launch of its new iPhone app.  

Word of Mouth's agency manager Jocelyn Chignall-Stapleton, who has been with the company for two-and-a-half years and has been managing it for the past year, says the idea for an app was tabled about one-and-a-half years ago and it all started with a desire to make things as easy as possible for its clients—and stay ahead of its competitors. 

She says its website tended not to work too well on iPhones (it works on Android phones, however), and iPhones have long been the handset of choice in this industry, so with the help of Vedat Kiyici and his newly established company Quiet Art, they set about offering a way for them to check out its vocal talent on the move. 

"We’re coming into an online age. The market is changing and [our content] needs to be accessible … It’s something every producer should have on their phone. And it’s something that will make their jobs easier."  

Like the website, its 100-ish voice artists are categorised into male, female and kids. And their various styles, such as hard or soft sell, gravel, smooth and deep, are also listed. Clients can save the voices they’re interested in and an email can be sent straight to Word of Mouth HQ from inside the app to organise a follow-up. 

"Having talked to a lot of creatives and producers, picking a voice is always a bit of a mission for them. It has to be approved on so many levels and you can spend so many hours going through the website. So the app is kind of like having a mini agent in the meeting," she says. 

Overall, she says business has improved considerably following the recession and "December was one of our most successful months ever". But she thinks the voice industry in New Zealand has plenty of scope to grow. While she says Word of Mouth, which was established in 1996 and is the longest running voice agency in the country, primarily works with big agencies and retailers, voicing video games is a burgeoning field and, despite the fact many movies are made here, using local talent to voice animated movies is largely untapped territory.

There is also plenty of growth in things like virtual tours and online video, all of which require a lot of voice prompts and benefit hugely from a professional vocal touch, but she says the online realm does pose some difficulties in terms of rights and licensing. 

Typically, licenses are based on the length and period of the ads (Word of Mouth doesn’t have "marquee talent" and charges the same for all of its voice artists), but if it's online she says clients often want the rights to the voice in perpetuity, which isn’t something the company does and isn’t generally tenable for professional voice artists.

But she says it is "quite happy to work to people’s budgets" and it has licensed for up to ten years if clients are happy to pay for the privilege. 

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