Analyzing the Voice Over in the Wells Fargo Apology Ad

I was doing some research for a new eBook, and came across this TV spot for Wells Fargo.

You can watch the video of this post here:

I was fascinated by the spot’s VO. It’s amazingly well done.

The spot is a 60 second long admission of guilt for defrauding consumers out of a lot of money, yet the voice talent delivers the message without a shred of apology in his voice.

The copy begins by describing the company’s history.

There’s a quiet pride in the talent’s voice as he moves through the years, and he employs a lot of vocal fry, which brings a folksiness to the read. There’s what sounds to me like a funky edit point after the word “we,” at :16. The pause seems like either it was an imperfection in the talent’s take and they liked it, or it was a blend of two takes and a few extra frames snuck in there and they decided to keep it.

At :12 the copy gives him a 3, which is a collection of three items which are meant to be read as a set. He handles it by going same, same, different. He uses two upward inflections and a downward inflection on the last item.

At :22 seconds, he sounds mildly taken by surprise when he says the company lost their way. And as he continues to tell the story, he is ever more hopeful, quietly excited to share all the changes the company is committed to making.

His energy shifts, as does his vocal quality. I can hear him sitting up straighter, see his hand gestures getting more animated. The folksy vocal fry from the first half of the spot, the quality that helps us understand he’s just a trustworthy, everyday dude, gives way to just a touch more projection, as if he means these words more than the others.

If the read was a concerto, I’d describe :28-:48 as a slow crescendo, peaking when he’s halfway begging us to believe him when he says, “Because earning back your trust,” (with an upward inflection so we listen for what’s coming next)  “is our greatest priority,” (with a downward inflection to add finality to the statement).

Then he backs off, brings back that vocal fry, and lands the spot barely impressed with the notion of rebirth. He just tells it like it is: “Established 1852, Re-established 2018.”

The subtext? You trusted us back then and you can still trust us today.

Whether or not you believe a word of this, you’ve got to admit the talent, and whoever directed him, does an amazing job.

Notice that he never gets much above a whisper. He doesn’t need to add volume, he communicates through pacing, inflections, pauses and rhythm. He doesn’t over enunciate or change his personality. He is the same guy through it all, and makes micro-adjustments to push all those emotional buttons.

I would guess the final product is an edit of a few takes, maybe even from a couple sessions on different days.

Bravo to the talent and VO director.