Thursday, February 2, 2012

We like female voices but trust male ones - which to pick for your ad?

NY Times reports about some interesting insights that may be useful to advertisers when choosing who should tell a brand story in a TVC or content ad. 
"Research indicates that our brains are wired to prefer female voices to male ones; that’s the reason robotic voices, like those in GPS devices, tend to be female. (This probably has an evolutionary explanation: fetuses in the womb, identifying with their caretaker, can distinguish their mother’s voice from others, a study published in the journal Psychological Science found.) 
When it comes to credibility, however, research tells a different story.
“On average both males and females trust male voices more,” said Clifford Nass, a professor of communications at Stanford, noting some gender disparity exists in that women don’t distrust female voices as much as men distrust them. In one study conducted at Stanford two versions of the same video of a woman were presented to subjects: one had the low frequencies of the woman’s voice increased and the high frequencies reduced, the other vice versa. Consistently subjects perceived the deep voice to be smarter, more authoritative and more trustworthy."
This might explain why a woman can present an idea and go unnoticed, while a man later in the meeting presents the same idea and gets praise and glory...
When creating ads I guess you should consider the topic when choosing a voice. An insurance company should probably be presented with a male voice and a shampoo presented with a female, since we buy one product based on trust and another based on a feeling, perhaps of being friends with the person talking in the ad? What do you think? 
Other studies have shown that people accept and even reward men who get angry but view women who lose their temper as less competent.

Victoria Brescoll and Eric Uhlmann at Northwestern University say it pays to stay emotionally neutral and, if you can't, at least explain what ticked you off in the first place. "An angry woman loses status, no matter what her position,'' said Brescoll.

In all studies, both men and women were shown videos of actors portraying men and women who were ostensibly applying for a job. The participants in the studies were then asked to rate applicants on how much responsibility they should be given, their perceived competence, whether they should be hired, and how much they should get paid.

Both men and women reached the same conclusions: Angry men deserved more status, a higher salary, and were expected to be better at the job than angry women. Angry men were valued more highly than angry women no matter what level position they were applying for.

But we are all valued equally right... People are not rational. We are judgemental, biased and full of subconscious ideas on different types of people. We quickly put each other in boxes, which is something advertising professionals need to be aware of - and perhaps use... 

Also of interest: My comments on the so called gender debate in Cannes last year...

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