From gas stench to bun smell. Male voice in Finnish television commercials


Heikki Uimonen

Masculinity is a social and cultural construction renewed in advertising. The article discusses how the masculinity is represented by male voice in Finnish television commercials. Not just the different aspects of voice but also social distances are utilized in acoustic communication of the commercials in order to target the products to different consumer groups. The desired effect is enhanced in sound processing by compressing and equalizing the voices of the speakers.

The background of current voice advertising lies in both public service and commercial broadcasting. In the early days of broadcasting the debates were aroused if women should be allowed to announce the radio programs. The new advertisement methods such as short films in the movie theatres and later in television broke the high-brow speech code of Finnish Broadcasting Company.

The prime time advertising of television channels MTV3 and Nelonen were included to research. After analyzing the total of number of 2246 speaks it proved out that the male speakers were used in 84 percent and in 74 per cent of the commercials, respectively.

In current commercials the omnipresent male voice can be conveniently attached to almost any products or services. It is used to create and renew multiple masculinities for different purposes. However, at the same time the speakers are reinforcing the cultural gender role models since the male voices are almost completely excluded from the commercials dealing with caring and domestic work.