Friday, February 28, 2014

Deceased spokespeople -is it appropriate? Creative Excellence Fridays

The debate has gone on as long as technology has made it possible. Is it okay to cast a product spokesperson who is no longer among the living. We're capable through digital wizardry to do it. But is it right?

There almost becomes a point in which the legend of the person is separate from the real person. Errol Flynn was quite dashing on camera but no respectable company would have the real Flynn being a spokesperson for, say, their whiskey. Flynn was a hard drinking womanizer who drank himself into an early grave.   But his screen legend lives on and his personal life is such ancient memory advertisers don't have a problem in current day to cash in on his legend persona.

Is this appropriate? Is it insensitive to the family?  But most have also passed on.  And this is the point.
Oscar Wilde and all decedents who knew him have been gone for generations.  But Wilde's legendary wit lives on.  That's what he's remembered for and what advertisers want to connect to their brand.

In recent years, we've seen James Dean and Marilyn Monroe appearing as spokespeople for various products.  Humphrey Bogart too.  In Bogart's case, his wife Lauren Bacall is still alive.  But even she knew the legend of Bogart was what people really wanted to see.

How about a commercial for Diet Coke featuring Bogart, Jimmy Cagney and ol' Sachmo Louie Armstrong.

Going back 22 years that was pretty startling technology.

Here's where it does seem to make sense.  When a deceased legend actually used the product.
Marilyn Monroe for Chanel #5.

Very tasteful and it only enhances her legendary appeal.

And finally, a commercial that inspired today's topic.  Earlier this week, Jack Daniels released a beautifully edited commercial featuring clips of ol' blue eyes himself.   One can safely say that Frank being a product spokesperson, even posthumously is not a big stretch.  Especially when you see him speaking on behalf of his favourite cigarette, Chesterfields.

And now the Jack Daniels commercial. Honestly, this is a piece of perfection. Watch the way the video seamlessly flows into photographs and montages. Everything about this commercial is a ten.

Here's to you Frank. A worldclass spokesperson who can still sell a product or two. And given that he was buried with a bottle of the "nectar of the gods", probably the only one who's truly credible in the after life. Here's mud in your eye.

With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer/voice performer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.

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