Morrisons is attempting to spread Christmas cheer among its customers by changing the voices on its self-service tills.
The supermarket will play a new audio voice at all its stores’ checkouts from the end of November to stop shoppers getting “their tinsel in a tangle” during the Christmas shopping rush.
Mr Whitehead was chosen as he was judged to best combine the vocal talents of Brian Blessed, Terry Wogan, Miranda Hart and Noddy Holder, who were judged by leading sound engineer Shannon Harris to have the most pleasant voices.
The winning formula for Britain’s “cheeriest voice” is a blend of slightly increasing average pitch, increased pitch modulation and heightened variation in intonation.
Festive Fred will wish shoppers a “Merry Christmas”, and tell them not to “get their tinsel in a tangle” rather than the usual “unexpected item in bagging area” that can drive shoppers to distraction.
Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, explained that when we hear a happy voice, “the brain responds with an increased heart rate and the body releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical associated with pleasure”.
“Listening to a voice that is animated with cheery qualities induces a general uplift in mood and therefore cheers people up,” she said.
Morrisons’ retail director, Gary Mills, said: “We know the Christmas shop can be stressful and we want our customers to leave our stores feeling festive. We hope Fred, along with everything else we do, puts a smile on our shoppers’ faces.”