How TV Characters are Revolutionizing Commercials


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TV Characters Light Up the Ad World

In today's world of quick clicks and overabundance of  content, how do brands ensure that their message doesn't just linger, but resonates? The answer might lie in the familiar corridors of Dunder Mifflin or the quirky living rooms of Modern Family.

As brands scramble to find a stronghold in the viewer's psyche, many are turning to a potent blend of nostalgia and recognition, by bringing beloved TV characters right into their commercials.  In this blog, Hollywood Branded dives into this fascinating shift in the advertising landscape, as we explore the power of recasting popular TV personalities and understand why this strategy is making waves in the ad world.

How TV Characters are Revolutionizing Commercials

The Power of Recasting TV Characters in Commercials

In the ever-evolving world of advertising, brands are continually searching for innovative ways to capture the attention of their audience. One tactic that has proven to be particularly effective is the recasting of popular TV characters in commercials. This method not only triggers a sense of nostalgia but also plays with the established connection the viewers already have with these characters.

Stanley and Phyllis from The Office in Cheerios Commercials
Leslie David Baker and Phyllis Smith, known for their roles as Stanley Hudson and Phyllis Vance on the hit TV show "The Office," recently reprised their characters for a Cheerios commercial. By drawing on the familiar dynamics and quirks of these beloved characters, the brand effectively uses humor and nostalgia to promote their product. The characters' innate love for breakroom chatter seamlessly aligns with the casual setting of a breakfast table.



Toby from The Office in Jack in the Box Commercials
Paul Lieberstein, who portrayed the somewhat melancholic HR director Toby Flenderson on "The Office," brought his character back to life in a commercial for Jack in the Box. The brand smartly played on Toby's awkwardness and bureaucratic demeanor to showcase the product, emphasizing the comfort and joy that food can bring even to the most stoic of characters.

Phil Dunphy from Modern Family for
Ty Burrell's portrayal of Phil Dunphy, the lovable and quirky real estate agent from "Modern Family," made him an obvious choice for By integrating the character's signature humor and industry insights, the brand established an immediate connection with its target audience, emphasizing the importance of a trustworthy real estate platform.

Phil Dunphy and

Other Notable Mentions:

George Costanza (Jason Alexander) from Seinfeld for McDonald’s
Though it's a throwback, who can forget when George Costanza bemoaned the double-dipping etiquette in a Super Bowl ad? It combined the comedic brilliance of the character with a product in a memorable way.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy in Olay Commercial
This clever ad used the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” nostalgia to showcase the age-defying properties of the product. Who better than a vampire slayer to showcase anti-aging?

Sarah Michelle Geller's Buffy and Olay


Implied celebrity character endorsements pack a punch in the world of advertising for several reasons:

1. Implicit Trust and Authenticity: When a character from a beloved show or movie endorses a product, it carries an implicit seal of approval. Viewers, having spent hours watching and relating to these characters, have an established trust which brands can tap into.

2. Cultural Resonance: Characters from hit shows and movies become cultural icons. By associating with them, brands become a part of the larger cultural conversation, making their message more memorable and shareable.

3. Nostalgia & Recognition: Familiar faces trigger instant recognition and warm memories, creating a favorable disposition towards the brand.

4. Narrative Continuity: Viewers have already invested time and emotion into these characters, so brands have an advantage by leveraging an already established storyline.

5. Humor & Relatability: Known characters come with their quirks and humor, which can be integrated into commercials for a fun and relatable approach.

6. Emotionally Charged Responses: Leveraging iconic characters can evoke strong emotions. Nostalgia, humor, or even the emotional arcs associated with the character can be revisited, making the commercial an experience rather than just an advertisement.

7. Bypasses Overexposure: Traditional celebrity endorsements can sometimes suffer from overexposure, with the same celebrity endorsing multiple products across various sectors. Using a TV or movie character can bypass this issue, as the endorsement is often seen as unique and specific to that character's persona.

8. Increased Engagement: Fans are more likely to engage with commercials that feature their favorite characters. This means higher shares, likes, and comments on social media platforms, leading to greater virality.

9. Flexibility in Narrative: Unlike real-life celebrities who come with their own off-screen stories, TV and movie characters can be molded into any narrative, giving advertisers more flexibility in crafting their message.

10. Bigger Bang for the Buck: While getting a character's endorsement might still be pricey, it might offer a better ROI than a real-life celebrity. Given the emotional depth and cultural resonance attached to characters, viewers might remember the commercial and its message longer.

11. Crossover Appeal: If a brand is trying to target fans of a particular show, there's no better way than to use characters from that show. Moreover, popular characters often have a broad demographic appeal, making the commercial effective across various age groups and demographics.

To highlight this trend's potency, consider campaigns like the Snickers commercials which play on the idea of celebrities becoming completely different (often cranky) characters when they're hungry. These ads cleverly meld character and celebrity, making for a memorable pitch.

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The strategy of recasting TV characters in commercials provides brands with a unique opportunity to engage their audience. By tapping into established narratives and leveraging the emotional connection viewers have with these characters, brands can create impactful and memorable ad campaigns.

As the advertising landscape continues to change, it's clear that the power of storytelling – and the characters that come with it – remains a potent tool for brands to connect with their audiences.

Eager To Learn More?

The power of implied celebrity character endorsement lies in the deep-rooted connection viewers form with fictional characters. By tapping into this bond, brands can craft impactful narratives that resonate on multiple levels.

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