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3 advertising trends that will impact voiceover in 2023

As we move into the New Year, there’s no denying we’re facing some pretty hefty challenges. So how will creativity respond? And what can we expect going forward? BRAVA founder, Melissa Thom, sat down with Nick Horne, Creative Director at True Digital, to look ahead at next year’s creative trends and the impact this will have on voiceover.

The current cost-of-living turmoil is already taking its toll on the financial markets and global economy. In fact, we’re about to experience some of the toughest times for the broadest spectrum of people in over 40 years. These societal challenges will have an impact on the type of adverts we’ll see next year.

Since the mid 1980s, British wealth has been relatively stable. Many people have been comfortable and moral norms have progressed. During these times, society responded to gentle, purpose-driven advertising. Think John Lewis. Advertising that’s focused on purpose, community, and brand building, rather than selling ‘stuff’.

But a shift is coming. As pockets are pinched and belts are tightened, audiences are likely to respond to different tones and notes. The softer, purpose-led advertising may struggle to cut through, as day-to-day hardship becomes more widespread.

On top of this, financial instability will lead to budget cuts across marketing departments. ROI will need to be stretched and brands will demand marketing that delivers tangible results. With this in mind, we believe marketeers will once again take greater chances on what is known to work: creativity and stand out.

Our trend predictions for VO in 2023

So how will these challenges feed into advertising and voiceover? Here are Melissa and Nick’s three key trends for the coming year.

Trend #1: Escapism and world-building

In these difficult times, people will seek light relief from the day-to-day. More of us will look for different perspectives, or new ways to live our lives. This means we’ll see more escapist notes, through surrealist comedy, dramatic world building, moves into the metaverse and fantastical storytelling.

On the flipside, we’ll also start to see more directly politicised work from genuinely purpose-driven brands. In the face of society’s difficulties, these kinds of businesses will vociferously join with consumers to drive positive change.

Nick’s take on how escapism will affect advertising:

“One shift that will happen here is the style and application of art direction. Creating worlds of fantasy is a genuine skill and one which, when performed well, may need no copy.

It’s strange to talk fondly of a time when cigarette advertising was at the top of its game, but the Silk Cut adverts of the 80s spring to mind here. In 1986, when UK advertisers could no longer depict people smoking, Saatchi’s response was deliberately cryptic, visual ads that alluded to the brand without any words or packshots.

In 2023, we may see a similar tack. To create fantastical worlds, advertisers will need to escape conventional ways of doing things. Whether this is purely visual or moving into the worlds of gaming and the metaverse, we’ll see more brands building worlds, or meeting us in the places that we go to escape”.

Melissa’s take on how escapism will affect VO:

“There are many voiceover opportunities in the creation of fantastical worlds. Yes, there’s an easy out for creatives to write pure sound design scripts – the equivalent of the Silk Cut ads. But if we want these places to be more than one-dimensional, voice artists will use their skills to contribute to the building of these worlds. Adding emotion, colour, texture and depth, beyond homogenised soundscapes.

Indeed, voice artists are already instrumental in the world of gaming. Some of the biggest games have relied heavily on finding the right voice actors, or Hollywood stars, for the primary roles.

As advertising continues to build in this space, and new opportunities emerge in the evolution of the metaverse, I believe voice will have a similarly vital role to play. Worlds are not worlds without the people or characters within them. And voice actors will be instrumental in bringing these characters and fantastical spaces to life”.

Trend #2: A surge in audio ads

This worldbuilding trend will move into and be amplified by radio/audio ads. With clever production and creative execution an audio ad can conjure up an escapist fantasy without the budget overheads of video advertising.

Nick’s take on how a surge in audio ads will affect advertising:

“I don’t want to downplay the role of the copywriter in the creation of audio worlds, but I feel that art directors will soon find a space to play here.

In my view, art directors seem to have given up on audio as a creative medium. This has traditionally been the copywriter’s realm. But I think next year we’ll maybe see a shift, as art directors build audio worlds from the ground up, starting with a visual look and feel”.

Melissa’s take on how a surge in audio ads will affect VO:

“As much as the escapist trend will reignite a broader spectrum of creativity in advertising, I expect the rise in audio advertising will impact voiceover significantly.

To create the real standout needed to hit those ROI targets, audio ads will need to move towards more dramatic fantasy, or comedic-driven scripts.

All of this requires a greater acting range and an ability to captivate through character, rather than simply reflecting the real world back at people. Over the last decade or so, real person and conversational reads have been pretty prevalent. But we’ll need to change things up if we want to engage audiences and capture imaginations in 2023”.

Trend #3: The continued rise of AI

Over the last few years, artificial intelligence has had an impact on almost every industry. Advertising and voice acting is no exception.

We’ve seen synthetic AI voices, AI-generated photography, AI-optimised advertising and so much more. In 2023, we believe these rapidly evolving technologies will result in seismic shifts across both of our industries.

Nick’s take on how AI will affect advertising:

“Considering the current climate, art direction will likely become influenced again by the innate craft of protest art. While historically that has meant hand-crafted, stitched, collaged or spray painted, the rise in AI art might become the new tool.

The democratisation of AI art through the creation of tools like Open AI’s Dall-e, has proved that the masses can now create interesting and powerful art in a couple of clicks. For me, this could become the inspiration for 2023’s protest art – and the ensuing advertising stylistic shift”.

Melissa’s take on how AI will affect VO:

“The rise in AI voiceover has been regarded as a threat by many voice artists, but I believe there are also many opportunities that artificial intelligence can bring to our industry. Not least, that voice actors with a trained AI voice can be in two places at once.

As Bev Standing, voice over artist, said recently: “My AI voice provides additional revenue streams that can work for me while I’m away doing other jobs. There’s room for both”.

In 2023, I can see AI’s new capabilities could enhance voice over artists, rather than just replicate us. If we want to create fantastical worlds, or worlds that are highly relevant to audiences, AI will give us the chance to create new voices and deliver more personalised messages.

AI used to give us a choice of 10 different AI voices, but now it gives us 10 different versions of one voice. Which means we’ll be able to appeal to audiences like never before. Our voices can be highly personalised to different audiences in terms of language, speed, accent – and more.”.

A final word

Over the last decade there has been a lot of talk about the death of creativity in advertising. Especially as there’s been a focus on delivering short-term, sales-driven tactics, rather than longer-term brand building. But with shifts towards escapism, exciting new technology and a resurgence of advertising platforms like radio, there’s sure to be some exciting creative opportunities ahead.

What do you think about these three trends? Are there any others that you think will change the advertising or voiceover landscape? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop us a line at to arrange a chat.

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