There is a lot of international debate about the appeal of a Kiwi or Australian accent. Opinions range from thinking it’s attractive to a distressingly more common view, which is that they are abrasive and irritating. The one thing that is never said though, it that they sound professional; which is why many national companies choose to hire an American or English voice talent when recording their voice over work.
Should I Use a Kiwi / Aussie Accent?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a perfectly good, clearly spoken antipodean accent. Using an overseas accent does not necessarily help and in some cases can even hinder your business.
- Keep in mind who your customer is.
If the majority of your clientele is from overseas then sure use a foreign voice, but if your everyday Kiwi/Aussie makes up your client base you won’t score extra points by confronting them with an American accent. People like to see themselves in the things they use, familiarity and a sense of identity will potentially make them more at ease.
- We are a prejudiced part of the world.
It’s terrible to think about but it is a harsh reality that many Kiwis and Australians are prejudiced towards foreigners. Mass call centres often have people speaking second languages in American or British accents, and even hearing a foreign accent in the voice overs at the beginning of the call can get locals worked up. A personal anecdote: My New Zealand based Canadian friend working at a NZ call center being abused by an irate Kiwi because he thought he been directed to India!
- It makes it personal.
You could have the biggest multinational corporation is the world but if your client is hearing a familiar accent it reduces the company in size. It helps alleviate the common ‘us’ versus ‘them’ in the little guy/big company battle. Anyone ringing through getting a local accent unconsciously assumes they are dealing with a smaller national company – fostering a ‘we are in it together’ attitude, rather than a big corporation mentality.
Understanding the pros vs cons of using British, American or Kiwi / Australian accents means delving into our ingrained attitudes about ourselves and other countries. Sometimes obvious and sometimes confronting, one thing is left certain; our Antipodean voices are comfortable to our local customers and should not be discounted or dismissed in the production of effective voice over.