Remember those TV commercials for Domino’s Pizza that had a cute tagline that went “DaMeiLe, DaLeMei”?
Well the man in those commercials was Scott Oelkers — a middle-aged former Mormon missionary in Taiwan who stayed on to lead the company to nationwide success before selling the firm and moving on.
Now the torch has been passed, and another foreigner, a 34-year-old musician and voice-over actor with the stage name of Brian Funshine, is the new voice behind the brand’s latest TV ads. In a recent e-mail interview, Funshine was asked how he got the job and what it was like doing the voice acting — in Chinese.
Funshine, who also goes by the name of Brian Alexander, hails from Florida and has been in Taiwan for about nine years. A former English teacher who married a Taiwanese woman, he said he got the pizza job from a referral by a studio where he had done earlier voice-over projects, including 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 done with an agency in Taipei,” he said.
When asked how a foreigner prepares for a voice-over gig assignment like this, Funshine, who speaks 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.”
Although he can speak Mandarin well and knows his tones, Funshine said that some of his Taiwanese clients want him to speak Chinese with a bad accent on purpose.
“It’s funny, but some clients actually want me to use ‘bad pronunciation,’ I guess because it adds humor to the commercial for Taiwanese viewers,” he said. “For example, in the pizza commercial, in the phrase ‘Da Mei Le’ ... 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.”
“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!” he said.