In Advertising How You Sound Matters


A new national experiment featuring 15,000 respondents has proven what many have suspected for years. Namely, that accent matters, especially in advertising where small percentage margins can mean big gains and cut through to consumers, particularly for brands selling products and services in hyper-competitive markets.

Commissioned by radio and digital broadcast specialists IRS+ ( the new research sought to explore the psychology behind accent, its commercial impact and whether a local voice made a difference. The answer is an emphatic yes. The test research was conducted via YouTube using its “True View” format (ads you can skip), in a controlled study that took Nissan’s current Qashqai TV commercial featuring a neutral “national” voiceover and pitted it against the same ad but this time featuring a local accent recorded by IRS+ from its approved voice library.

These ran side by side for 2 weeks in four high population regions, featuring the national voice in four specific local accents (representing high population areas). These were: Kerry, Midlands (Laois, Offaly, Westmeath), Southeast (Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny) and Donegal.


Analysts found that geographically targeted copy with a local accent voiceover outperformed the national accent. This was especially the case in Donegal and Kerry in particular, where respective differences of 5.13% and 3.91% were reported. In the Midlands, local outstripped national by 2.26% and by a factor of .76% for the SouthEast. Critically in terms of consumer engagement, 22 out of 24 age groups from 18-65+ also engaged more with the local accent version.

So, what does all this mean for advertising in general and what implications has it for agency planners and brand owners?

Peter Smyth, CEO, IRS+ says “This research proved the science of Local Accent Bias where we “Lean In” and become more engaged when we hear others speaking in the same way as ourselves. We have shown conclusively that there is a commercial advantage to running national and locally targeted executions – allowing brands to extract maximum value from each campaign and extend the length of activity by generating increased local engagement.

Meanwhile, for brand owners, choosing to translate national campaigns into ones that work locally is very simple – it’s the business that IRS+ specialises in, connecting national brands with local communities.

Its “Spotlight” product is a ready to go radio package that offers local content production. Using its extensive local accent voicebank, national radio campaigns are simply and quickly re-recorded with a new local accent voiceover. On-air within days of a brief being received, commercials are broadcast on-air and digitally to its network of up to 15 independent local stations throughout Ireland.

Jeanne McGann, Head of Marketing and Communications, Nissan Ireland said “We were delighted to be asked by IRS+ to lend our national campaign for the purposes of this fascinating piece of research. It has delivered an important new insight that confirms that there is a different dynamic at play between national/local activity and the critical role that accent plays in achieving cut through in a very crowded marketplace in Ireland. It has certainly given us a new perspective on an important way to engage with consumers.”


About the Experiment.

The IRS+ Local Accent Bias survey was conducted by FOE, a creative studio which specialises in insight-led activations and production. It was run between January 24th and February 6th, 2022, geo-targeting Donegal, Kerry, Carlow, Laois, Offaly, Waterford, Westmeath plus Wexford and was conducted via Computer, Mobile and Tablet with 15,000 YouTube respondents.


About IRS+ Spotlight

Spotlight is part of the IRS+ IGNITE suite of ready to go radio packages and offers a local content production service. It has been enhanced and features a 90 – 120 second content package supported by pre-promotional spots and live reads. This on-air content of locally relevant brand marketing messages adds value and depth to messaging.

It supports traditional campaigns and presents an opportunity to deliver more complex, content-based messaging in a way that cannot be achieved through traditional advertising. Brands have an opportunity to inform and change consumer behaviour or understanding, and reflect their expertise by conveying valuable, useful, information and service to the community while also having an opportunity to engage with audiences about their environmental social or sustainable activities.

Latest Articles