I have the feeling that I’ve missed something. All of a sudden I’m seeing hollywood stars appearing in the most dreadful, badly-produced, insanely silly TV commercials. It started with Antonio Banderas pretending to be a baker in a commercial for Italian biscuits. There’s no acknowledgement that it’s Banderas, no endorsement. He doesn’t even say anything (I mean, if you are going to have a movie star representing your product, why on earth would you have him acting out an anonymous part in a crap cameo?) so what’s the point?

Next Kevin Costner appeared in a commercial for Rio Mare tinned tuna! As with Banderras, I’m struggling to make a connection here. He only utters two words, which, so far, I have seen dubbed into three languages by anonymous v/o artists. I’m sure even Kev could have managed to come up with two words in any number of languages to have made these production even vaguely cohesive, but that’s hardly the point. What is going on here?

The most recent of these performances to have caught my eye is possibly the worst. The Dutch bank ING are changing their name to NN. I’m not even going to get into the choice of name here, but their decision to hire Ewan McGregor to do a “to camera” piece explaining in the most dreadful, boring, badly written script that he is celebrating the event by changing the spelling of his name to Ewann is just plain stupid?  However, the whole thing becomes even more questionable when, having delivered the story in English, in the version I saw, he switches to Czech for the last section of the script!

I’ve written about the use of celebrity endorsement before. It’s difficult for the vast majority of brands to justify what is always a significant cost, but if you are going to invest these sums you need to at least make a stab at getting some value from the deal. The starting point would seem to be choosing a celebrity who has some connection to your brand or its values. Once you have the right person it would seem just basic common sense to make something of this golden opportunity by at least involving them in an engaging scenario with a decent script. It seems that whoever is responsible for these three fiascos was of the view that a celebrity removed the need for any kind of idea, but it begs the question, what on earth were the celebrities thinking about when they agreed to appear in these fiascos? Surely, they have script approval? After all, their reputation is on the line and it’s hardly appropriate for them to rely on some amateur, brainless and talentless writer to jeopardise that, yet they appear not to care. Beyond a very few of the many cosmetic and perfume commercials that feature celebrities I can’t think of a commercial that I’d consider to make good use of an opportunity like this, but examples like those I’ve mentioned can only be bad for everyone. Maybe its just a case of taking the money and running, but celebrities have business advisors and I wouldn’t have thought they’d recommend they associated with such dreadful projects.

Phil Darby
February 23, 2015

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