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Mad Men

Lame ads starring Hollywood heavyweights get eyes rolling

 

I enjoy commercials featuring leading men. It's a very satisfying process, watching them act out scenes with the sole purpose of selling. It's still acting, to be sure, but in a world of web-savvy audiences and Instagram, an ad is an ad is an ad.

But Brad Pitt's commercial a few months ago was utterly confusing. Did they translate his monologue from a Japanese script? Was Brad high? It was basically 30 seconds of questions snowballing in my mind.

"Plans disappear, dreams take over …"

So should we all be sleeping? Like your scriptwriter? Are you on Xanax, Brad?

"But wherever I go, there you are …"

OK, you're making eye contact. Who are you talking to? Is Angie behind the camera?

"My luck, my fate, my

fortune …"

Are you reading off a thesaurus?

"Inevitable."

Another adoption?

I get the power of celebrity. I understand its mystery, seduction and pull. And I'm a fan of great copywriting. Combine the two for a commercial product, and that's where magic (usually) happens.

But perhaps in this case, the excruciatingly profound words and abstract contexts should be best left to printed words on billboards, open to interpretation and the imagination, rather than the confusing monologue from a leading man.

To be fair, Pitt wasn't the only one taking on dodgy campaigns. Other leading men have worked on questionable money-spinners. The stubbornly suave George Clooney got into bed with a man for Casamigos Tequila, snubbing his hot supermodel co-star Cindy Crawford.

Nicolas Cage went delirious and bug-eyed for triplets in his Sankyo Pachinko ad. It's a hilarious, hysterical and over-the-top Cage we see here, so that means everything is going well for the hair-plugged one.

Even mean muscle-man Arnold Schwarzenegger got dressed up in a gold suit and laughed without a care in the world for his V Energy Drink spot. But I suspect Cage and Schwarzenegger, for the sake of professionalism and self-preservation, had the good sense to make these commercials outside the United States.

It was a very different story when Sean Connery shot that series of beautiful photos with famous photographer Annie Leibovitz for the French luxury leather goods giant.

The iconic Bond actor put on some comfortable clothes and a Panama hat, walked onto the powdery beach of his Bahamas home, stepped on a makeshift jetty and got the job done. The shoot was classy, easy and elegant, and, most importantly, nobody rolled their eyes or threw out their Fight Club DVD.

Having said that, I wouldn't break a sweat if I were Brad.

The man reportedly collected US$7 million for that non-job, and he has told reporters: "I'm blissfully naive to the comments on the ad. I think some people are having a lot of fun with it. But it's all fair."

No, it's not fair, Brad. We do stupid things every day, but we don't get paid US$7 million for them. It's not fair.

 

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