A feel-good radio ad that feels no good

Novartis There is still a place for authenticity, one hopes, even in radio advertising, the Land Where Snake Oil Flows like Honey. So, when a woman named Susan McNamara talks about her recovery from cancer in a Novartis spot (sorry, no link), you know she’s no actress, so for a few seconds you feel good about that. But how can you tell she’s not an actress? Because hers is one of the worst voiceovers in the history of radio. Her voice is so flat, monotonous and, ironically, lifeless that even over the syrupy flute-and-piano daytime-drama music, the story of how happy she is to be alive because of Novartis is, frankly, unconvincing. This is un-P.C., but she sounds lobotomized, or in a drug-induced haze, or like someone being forced to read a hostage script at gunpoint. “Thank you, No-var-tis.” By the end of the 30 seconds, you find yourself thinking, “Is she really going to make it?” And then feel bad for thinking it. Radio advertising. So complex. UPDATE: And here is the spot in all its glory! (Thanks, John.)

—Posted by Gregory Solman

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