Here's a brain-candy blog post. It came to me after watching the movie the Expendables on a guys-night-out. One of the guys said, "Hey the guy with the big gun, wasn't he the Old Spice Guy?" (There were many big guns in the Expendables but one gun was bigger than all others so we all knew what he was talking about.) Read on to see how this relates to marketing and brands...
Being an aspiring actor is a tough gig. The cliché is that aspiring actors move to L.A, take on minimum wage waiter/hostess jobs in order to pursue their acting dreams, and audition for roles- most of which do not materialize. Along the way, some actors are able to pick up some advertising gigs which provide relevant experience ahead of the camera, exposure, and money to pay the rent. In addition, ads help actors develop their network. A lot of the directors of ads become A-list directors and producers. (e.g. Ridley Scott, director of the famous 1984 Apple ad went on to produce blockbuster films like Robin Hood, Gladiator, Blade Runner, American Gangster; Michael Bay worked on ads for Dairy Producers, Nike, Budweiser/Miller, Levi's and Coca-Cola and before moving on to producing Transformers, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and Miami Vice.) For the actor, ads can be an effective springboard to launch their movie/tv careers. How common is this? John Travolta started off in Band-Aid ads, a young DiCaprio pitched Honda, Wesley Snipes modeled Levis and repped Western Union, Keanu Reeves drankCoca-Cola, and Jodi Foster got her start as the Coppertone baby. But every once in a while, an advertisement connects with the public and the actor’s career becomes overshadowed by his/her performance in the ad. Below is a fun top-5 list of actors whose fame is intimately linked - and overshadowed - by the role they played representing brands.
#5 Tom Bodett. Here’s a guy who has done a lot of narration, but he’s most remembered for the folksy award winning radio ads for Motel 6 that feature the line, “We’ll leave the light on for ya”. Bodett allegedly ad-libbed that line during the commercial recordings. Evidently Motel 6 is now using Tom's voice for wake-up calls.
#4 Vince Offer. Offer is a comedian whose writing, acting, and directing skills did not earn him critical acclaim but he found his niche as a quirky, fast-talking, irreverent pitchman for Slap Chop and Sham Wow. According to Wikipedia, Offer is going to use his advertising celebrity to re-release some of his past film work - but he's been framed by audiences as the SlapChop Guy.
#3 Jonathan Goldsmith. Here’s an actor who has been working the tv/movie circuit since the 1960s. IMDB lists Goldsmith as having more than 100 different working credits - including a prominent role on Dallas - but his acting career is clearly eclipsed by his work as “Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World.” Check out the lengths that Jonathan goes through to say that he is not the most interesting man in the world - but rather the “the actor who plays the most interesting man in the world.”
#2 Isaiah Mustafa. Here’s an athlete-turned-actor whose career got a huge boost via P&G’s Old Spice campaigns. Although he has been cast in Jennifer Aniston's upcoming film "Horrible Bosses", it is likely that he’ll always be remembered as the Old Spice Guy. By the way, contrary to internet rumors, Mustafa was not cast in the Expendables, but Old Spice model Terry Crew was.
#1 Justin Long. Long’s had quite a few roles in feature films including Live Free or Die Hard and Dodgeball - but he’s clearly most known for the laid-back, casual likable guy that personifies Mac. A rep for Long confirms that Long's ties with Mac are over: "Justin’s a movie star, not a commercial guy."
I'm going to close this blog with a cheesy observation: Bodett, Offer, Goldsmith, Mustafa and Long share brand-characters who are anything but Expendable.