It used to be that actors and actresses peddled their wares covertly in overseas advertisements for fat paydays. Nowadays, thanks to the globalization of all things media, there is nowhere to hide.
So who’s pitching products and services in America right now? Well, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Don Cheadle are drinking the kool-aid for Bud Light’s new #upforwhatever campaign that launched during the Super Bowl, Alec Baldwin and Samuel L. Jackson have been spotted shamelessly hawking credit cards for some time, Scarlett Johannson is getting into the action sipping on SodaStream and many more screen luminaries — including Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Robert DeNiro — have jumped in the warm American commercial pool.
Is this tied into the U.S. society’s current fascination with YouTube and short, funny clips that we post daily on Facebook and share with other social media sites? Most definitely. Is it a way to for a brand to look hip and cool? You betcha. The term sellout no longer applies we’re afraid…not if everyone’s doing it. So we might as well start reviewing them.
Jennifer Aniston (Aveeno)
The secret is out, hydration is in, Jennifer Aniston tells us. It’s very generous of Ms. Aniston and the good folks at Aveeno moisturizer to take us into their confidences. But as our bodies are mostly made of water and so is the planet’s surface we inhabit, we kinda have been hipped to this fact for a while… A big rule for movie actors crossing over into commercial-dom is to stay cool and not set yourself up for a little schoolyard ridicule. Jennifer, the secret is out, you made a bad commercial. No worries, Ms Aniston is still “naturally beautiful” and while the “results” aren’t as intended, she doesn’t come out all wet.
Rating: 1.5 Whistles
James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell (Sprint)
The Voice of Darth Vader and The Narrator of A Clockwork Orange Read The Phonebook For One Night Only. Heck, we’d run to see that! But telco Sprint has come up with something better. They dress Mr. Jones and Mr. McDowell in tuxedos, place them on a stage and have them reenact calls/texts between teens. It’s a genius move. Jones and McDowell are a perfect pair. In fact, they’re cray, cray adorbs. The 30 second spots are long enough so we can take in every mannerism and inflection of these two pros while leaving us wanting more, more, more. Is this a winner? Totes!
Rating: 4 Whistles
Julia Roberts (Lancome)
American fragrance campaigns are typically good bets for celebs – if they’re print-based ads or the celebs have nothing to lose. If you’re a serious actor, a perfume ad for TV could lead to a cheesy stumble. It’s not the actor’s fault most of the time. The sets can be decadent, the symbolism ludicrous. And that’s what happened to Roberts here with Lancome. She looks good, everything around her just fails.
Rating: 2 Whistles
Our advice: Julia stick to doing Lavazza ads overseas… Better yet, just light it up on the big screen…
NOMINEE FOR INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL HALL OF FAME
Woody Allen (Italia)
Back in the day, The Woodman pitched a variety of products; including Japanese clothing stores and this one from an Italian phone company.
Rating: 3 Whistles
Just don’t ask Woody to advertise for vodka. This is his hilarious bit on celebrities doing commercials, entitled “The Vodka Ad,” ” from his comedy album, “Standup Comedian.”
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Jennifer Aniston Photo Courtesy of Featureflash / Shutterstock.com