Will CBS News Find Its Voice With Morgan Freeman?

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Since 2006, the voice of legendary newsman Walter Cronkite introduced the network’s evening news by broadcasting the words, “This is the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.”

Cronkite’s renowned voice linked the modern newscast to its iconic past, but now, six months after Cronkite’s passing, CBS is making a change at a time when its very industry is evolving. Storied television news brands — ABC, CBS, and NBC, in particular — are being assailed by falling ratings as Americans segment along social and political lines and tune into more niche programming distributed by various forms of media, including cable.

The boundary that separates news and entertainment is becoming increasingly blurred, and the new voice of the CBS Evening News reflects this development. Move over grizzled journalist. Hello award-winning Hollywood actor, Morgan Freeman.[more]

Morgan Freeman’s gravelly voice is both familiar and compelling — which is why Visa currently employs Freeman as the voice of its commercials. It’s that same popularity, however, that poses a crossover risk for CBS. Can the same voice effectively represent two different brands without causing confusion or fatigue? Visa and the CBS Evening News are, of course, in different categories, but both rely on television to build and differentiate their brands.

The change marks a seminal moment in the history of the CBS Evening News as Cronkite’s trusted voice is replaced with one that promises greater appeal to a younger generation — and more lucrative demographic — that identifies with Freeman’s voice via his popular roles in movies.

But will it work, or does Visa already have its stamp on Freeman’s voice?

Any sonic branding experts out there want to chime in?

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