Matthew-WoodSmallFinancial planning can be a strange adventure. Ever try filling out some of those forms? You could fashion a papyrus boat and cross The Nile with the reams of paper that seamlessly glide under the bow of your pen.

Ideally, however, financial planning is about being savvy, cool, and taking calculated risks. And, if you can laugh once or twice along the way – so much the better. Kinda like this campaign of radio spots for A.G. Edwards and Sons that we’ve been bushwhacking our way through for the past week.

These radio ads pivot on the premise that, if you think someone else is going to take care of your nest egg for you – you’re nuts. (Please review last year’s Social Security Sinkhole for full corroboration)

Eugene Fuller, the writer for Minneapolis advertising agency Carmichael Lynch, came up with the idea of framing this dilemma by using scenarios similar to those you might have seen many, many years ago on the original Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

Matthew Wood as “Jim Fowler”. Studio A at Babble-On

The protagonist for these scripts would not be styled after Marlin Perkins however. If you’ve forgotten, Marlin was the guy cautiously secluded in a near-by blind who would always send his guy, Jim Fowler, into snake pits, bear dens and alligator infested waters, “…to see how these creatures live” – Jim probably kicked himself for never landing a better gig with Cousteau or something.

Our version of Jim Fowler was played by voice-over actor Matthew Wood from San Francisco who, for a day job, works as the Supervising Sound Editor at Skywalker Sound. If you’ve ever seen a Star Wars flick, you’ve heard some of his handiwork. Instead of trying to record Matthew via ISDN Digital Patch or Source-Connect from San Francisco, the folks from Carmichael had him flown into Minneapolis for the day long session. Smart. When you’ve got nine scripts to record, it’s actually cheaper to get your voice-over talent a plane ticket and hotel room than to fire up the Digital Patch for six to eight hours.

And we wonder why the airline industry is sagging?

The smooth voiced David Kaye was our book end announcer and, since his stuff was pretty quick, we just recorded him from one of our favorite studios in L.A., Patches.

Different-combo2dThe next step, sound-design, was a collaborative process between Babble-On and a firm called Singing Serpent out of San Diego. While both of us were trying to get the sound accurate we began to realize that simply being “true” didn’t make the spots funny or really engaging. To quote Eugene, “Early on we knew we wanted
the spots to feel real, as if we were following a mic’ed guy in the wild. But we also thought the spots needed some added humor or they’d fall flat. The sound effects seemed like a good way to get some jokes in”

Finding sounds that would be funny, but that didn’t go way out of bounds, was a great experiment in throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. As the photos reveal, any and all attempts to get the real sounds failed due to our talent being completely clueless and uncooperative. I’m still trying to get the tortoise stains out of the couch and there’s a lingering “Komodo odor” in the booth that isn’t responding to Lysol.

Eugene, and Producer Tara Mulholland were patient with the talent

Ultimately, most of what made the final cut were sounds and textures that weren’t even animal in nature – suction cups, paper crumples, and shoveling were just a few of the basic sounds we mutilated to fit the environment. In a funny twist, we did actually find and use one real animal that worked in some capacity across all three spots. Eugene and I were both amazed that with just a little pitch shifting, EQ and other tricks we’d get the exact feel we’d been aiming to achieve. Eugene had this to say -“Who would have thought that we’d end up using cat sound effects for a tortoise, komodo dragon and a king cobra?” I’m particularly fond of “Tortoise,” where we devote like 20 sec. to a long painful grunt before an egg pops out of momma tortoise. Maybe the most helpful thing of all was having an entire day to play around in the studio and explore what would work best and provide the most giggles.”

If you’d like to hear the radio spots “Komodo Dragon”, “Tortoise” or “King Cobra” just give us a shout with an e-mail and we’ll get you a CD or an MP3.

Voice-over talent David Kaye can be booked through The William Morris Agency. Matthew Wood can be scheduled through his agent, VOX.