Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Overselling of British Accents to American Audiences

Whether its news, politics, entertainment or advertising, the British accent seems everywhere in American culture.

There are many contemporary British accented characters making a heavy impact, including Piers Morgan of CNN, Stuart Varney of Fox News, Stewie of Family Guy, entertainer/host Ricky Gervais and the Geiko Gecko.

The simple explanation for all these British accents may be in how Americans perceive them.

A recent Harris Interactive Poll indicates that for Americans, when comparing American accents to British accents, the British accents receive much higher marks for sounding well-educated, intelligent and sophisticated.

This research seems to indicate the preponderance of British accents in American popular culture can be attributed to marketing efforts by entertainment and advertising executives.  A British accent sounds smart, reliable and knowledgeable.  These marketing efforts are one more way to get to the mind of the consumer.

Of all the broadcasts for American sports on television, Soccer seems to be the one utilizing the British accent most often.  The effect of using this marketing tool may work for Soccer fans already accustomed to the sport, but is it the best idea for reigning in new fans to the sport?

Nicknames and terminology in Soccer already have a foreign touch, will too many British sounding announcers add to the chaos and be a turn off for new fans or will fans not notice the subtlety of the marketing ploy?

The subliminal effect of the British accent is what executives seem to be most interested in.

What goes unnoticed, yet is accepted, is the most important message.  Reeling in the consumer without them catching on to why they are being influenced is the most effective type of promotion.

There is an obvious gamble being taken with British accented television broadcasters doing American Soccer matches.  New viewers to the sport may grow frustrated with the abundance of technical jargon these broadcasters are known for and may grow to feel more alienated to the game.  So for attracting new fans, the ploy could be defeating its purpose.

Originally published February 2012

1 comment:

  1. I think Americans will start to get weary of British Accents, I know I am.