Brian Funshine is ”voice’ of new pizza ad on TV in Taiwan

Brian Funshine Microphone Pic
  • American expat Brian Funshine is ”voice’ of new pizza ad >(as reported in the Taipei Times on February 10, 2009)
  • by Dan Bloom, Contributing Reporter, Taipei Times
  • TAIPEI — Remember those TV commercials for Domino’s Pizza that had a cute
  • tagline that went “Da Mei Le, Da Le Mei”, which was a kind of a play on
  • words with the name of the company and another phrase in Chinese meaning
  • “Domino’s! Have you called?”
  • Well the man who “acted” in those earlier commercials was not acting.
  • He was Scott Oelkers, the then boss of Domino’s — a middle-aged former Mormon
  • missionary in Taiwan who stayed on to lead the company to
  • islandwide success before selling the firm and moving on.
  • Now the torch has been passed, and another foreigner, a 36-year-old musician
  • and voice-over actor with the stage name of Brian Funshine, is the new
  • voice behind
  • Domino’s latest TV ads. Funshine was asked in a recent email interview
  • how he got the gig and
  • what it was like doing it the voice-over parts in Chinese.
  • Funshine, who also goes by the name of Brian Alexander and is
  • well-known for his children’s music shows, hails from Florida and has
  • been in Taiwan for about nine years. A former English teacher who
  • married a Taiwanese, he said he got the pizza job from a
  • referral by a
  • studio where he had done earlier voice-over projects, including ones
  • for ads for Volvo, Harley Davidson and Via Technologies.
  • “The
  • pizza commercial just dropped in my lap by a lucky chance, and from
  • earlier work I had down with an agency in Taipei,” he said.
  • When asked how a foreigner prepares for
  • a voice-over gig assignement like that, Funshine, who speaks fluent
  • Chinese, said:
  • “Well, of course, my Taiwanese wife helped me make sure
  • that my pronunciation was correct, and also, I practiced and rehearsed
  • a lot, and I was also able to use a few voice-over acting techniques
  • that I’ve learned from earlier work.”
  • “Interacting with clients for me involves speaking Chinese, and I need
  • to speak Chinese since
  • clients don’t speak English,” he
  • said. “It’s a very competitive and difficult market in the advertising
  • business.”
  • When asked what his voice-over lines consisted for the new advert, he said:
  • “I introduce the Number Six and
  • Number Eight pizza specials for the winter season. I say, in Chinese,
  • how delicious the pizza
  • tastes, of course, and what ingredients are on the new specials.”
  • Public reaction to Funshine’s pizza gig have been positive and
  • gratifying, he says, especially from friends in Taiwan and from people in the
  • advertising field. But he says that most people probably don’t know he is the
  • “voice” behind those commercials since he does not appear on-screen at all.
  • “I feel excited to have done something on air, on TV, that many
  • people recognize, even if they cannot see my face and don’t even know
  • it is me doing the voice-over,” he said. “This is the third commercial
  • I’ve done in Taiwan, speaking in Chinese.”
  • Although he can speak Chinese well and knows his tones, Funshine said
  • that some of his Taiwanese clients want him to speak
  • Chinese with a bad accent. On purpose.
  • When asked why, he said: “It’s funny, but some clients actually want
  • me to use a ‘bad
  • pronunciation’, I guess because it adds humor to the commercial for
  • Taiwanese viewers. For example, in the pizza commercial, in
  • the phrase ‘Da Mei Le’, which is how Domino’s is pronounced in
  • Chinese, the first character, ‘Da’, should
  • be said with a rising second tone, but I was told to do it using the first tone.
  • The company wanted me to intentionally sound more foreign. They told
  • me that my Chinese was ‘tai biao juen’, by which they meant, in a
  • polite way, that my pronunciation was too accurate.”
  • “They always say this here in Taiwan when I do commercials in
  • Chinese,” he added.
  • “Many clients want what I call ‘funny foreigner Chinese’. So, I just do
  • it many different ways with my tones intentionally incorrect and let
  • them pick what they like best!”
  • Funshine said that Oelkers, the original voice for the pizza
  • chain’s earlier commercials, studied Chinese in Beijing.
  • “Scott had a
  • higher voice than I do, so my style in the voice-over is different
  • than his style. But you know, the funny thing, an interesting thing,
  • is that most Taiwanese don’t even notice it’s a new voice doing the
  • ad. They probably think it’s still Scott doing the voice. And
  • I am sure they have no idea it’s me, because as a voice-over artist,
  • you are always behind the scenes, invisible, off-camera.”
  • When asked if he might be doing more commercials for the pizza chain,
  • Funshine said: “From what I’ve been told by the agency, this
  • commercial is just the first of many that they have planned for me. So
  • I’m looking forward to doing more of this kind of work in the future.”
  • Funshine’s website, where some of his voice-overs can be heard online,
  • is at brianfunshine.com.