The Golden Age of action movies is certainly over. Yet the likes of JCVD, Schwarzenegger and other gnarled action legends are still kicking ass and working away at movie projects (such as Pound of Flesh and Maggie). But, if the heydays of the 80’s are over, you can bet your bottom dollar that the $30 million pay cheques are a thing of the past too.
It is no surprise that such movie behemoths turn to commercials for a quick buck. Now Sly Stallone is treating us to his own big fat slice of glorious exploitative advertising.
The premise is simple: Warburtons are a bakers in Bolton who pride themselves on getting fresh bread into the shops on the same day it was made. While that doesn’t sound overly impressive, they are a national company. So that’s a lot of bread and a whole lot of delivering.
Stallone wants to turn this daily struggle into a movie. We’re talking underdog tones ala Rocky mixed with the stylistics of The Expendables. He’s craftily calling it “The Deliverers”. Whether or not the Warburtons executive goes for the Italian Stallion’s pitch is unknown. Anyway, get it watched below:
I’m a little conflicted about this. Considering I’ve lived in Bolton for nearly 15 years, this is pretty cool. I worked 10 seconds away from the town hall featured at the end. On the other hand it’s sad to see Sly lowering himself in such a way. It’s like that bit in Rocky 2 when Rocky gets fired from the meat factory. He’s worked so hard and tried to find any job and after spunking all his money on frivolous shit. I hope Stallone isn’t this bad off.
But Stallone isn’t alone. A variety of other action heroes are recycling their bad-ass personas into cash money gains on the small screen.
Who remembers Mr. T urging everyone to “get some nuts” when he was hawking Snickers bars a few years ago? To be fair, this was an amusing callback to his role as BA in the A-Team. In a nutshell (no pun intended) T growls threats to unsuspecting peons lacking courage in the face of adversity. The adverts are amusing, and surprisingly action packed. A whole series got made:
Then came JCVD.
Similar to Mr. T, Van-Damme hasn’t been a major box office star since the 90’s. Unlike Mr. T, he’s at least keeping up appearances in straight to DVD titles, like Welcome to the Jungle and the various sequels to the Universal Soldier franchise.
He’s also becoming a bit of a brand peddler too. First, his amazing flexibility was put on show in this mind-boggling Volvo commercial. It also appears to be real, as per the Making-Of video below.
The link between his inhuman ability to do the splits and the automotive industry is tenuous at best, but damn it is cool.
Van-Damme, who is known for saying the odd bizarre thing, isn’t opposed to acting weird on screen either (Expendables 2, anyone?); His masterful performances for Coors Light echoed the madness of the Terry Crews Old Spice campaign.
Of course, some actors retain their standards, integrity, and self-respect regardless of their age. Some would never stoop to attaching their Odin-given image to such dubious products. I’m sorry to admit that Arnold Schwarzenegger is not one of these people.
While I can forgive his earlier dalliances in advertising, his recent appearance on the “Compare the Meerkat” commercial is unforgivable. For the uninitiated, Compare the Meerkat is a parody website of Compare the Market – a boring broker of insurance. The adverts feature cute, accented, CGI-powered meerkats trying to seduce you into purchasing their car or home insurance. No, I don’t know what strain of crack cocaine the advertising executives were smoking when they cooked up this idea.
Despite this insane premise, it has been hugely successful marketing strategy. Though an element of this success must relate to the fact that you get a free stuffed toy whenever you buy anything from them. People obviously don’t just need cheap insurance, they need plush toys too. It’s simple cuteness driven economics, people.
Well, they’re now moving into the movie industry, and offering two-for-one cinema tickets with any purchase. And who better to welcome two small, foreign marsupials to Hollywood than Arnold?
Okay, I did like the subtle Predator and Terminator quotes.
Let’s not get too precious about our heroes. We can’t ignore that this was a tactic of many 90’s megastars who would travel to Japan to sell some super weird energy drink or trinket. It was easy cash, with few ramifications or media exposure in the West. But now with YouTube and Twitter and everything, it’s impossible to avoid having your darkest (and lowest) commercial nightmares relived online for millions to see.
I recall Bill Hicks begging marketing people to kill themselves; it was the only way to save their souls, he argued. His cries of mercy have so far gone unheard. So how long do we have to wait for the next debauched and desperate hero to whore themselves in such ways? How long before the glory of another bygone legend is tarnished by a need for cash, or even worse, simple media exposure? How long before Dolph Lundgren is beheaded by another unicorn? Only time will tell.