Home / Advertisers / Is Usain Bolt’s latest outing for Virgin Media yet another UK celebrity ad fail?

Is Usain Bolt’s latest outing for Virgin Media yet another UK celebrity ad fail?

Don’t wish to get too over-literal about this but can you really receive Virgin Media (a UK cable TV company) in Jamaica? Bit of serious digging required.

But here we have Usain Bolt, playing all the members of his family, enjoying super-dooper high-speed VM, courtesy of a new campaign from BBH.

Bolt is usually rather good in this campaign but this Alec Guinness, Kind Heats and Coronets task (Guinness plays seven roles in the ancient British classic) is obviously a stretch. Bolt as child is a bit odd, to put it mildly.

Celebs are playing a bigger and bigger role in ads these days, at least in the UK and US. Virgin competitor Sky recently wheeled out Sir Michael Caine in another disappointing effort, following mixed results from the likes of Bruce Willis and Al Pacino. You get the feeling that, once the star is safely in the studio, agency and client just breathe a sigh of relief and order trebles all round.

At least Bolt has a go here; running the risk of looking stupid for the sake of the idea. The masters of using celebs were British agencies from the old days: CDP, with the likes of Joan Collins and Alan Whicker and a masterpiece from BMP with the biggest celeb of them all (below).

With advertisers and agencies overdosing on content we’re going to see lots more of this. It’s presumably only a matter of time before some William Morris Endeavor clients start appearing in campaigns from new ad agency partner Droga5.

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But you have to make them work for their money (which BBH has, to be fair). And be funny as well.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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