If there was an award for the "Most Honest Celebrity Ad Ever", then it would almost certainly go to Optus for their 2015 ad starring Ricky Gervais.
Optus is an Australian telecommunications company, and when Netflix launched in Australia back in 2015, Optus decide they'd offer six months of the service to their subscribers for free.
How did Optus decide to let people know about this offer?
They hired Ricky Gervais as a spokesperson.
Except, it seems Ricky didn't want to put much effort into the spot...
This advertisement is absolutely hilarious if you appreciate Gervais' dry humour.
But it also perfectly captures what I think every time I see a celebrity in a commercial...
"That celebrity doesn't care about the product and is only doing this ad for the paycheck."
A few years ago, I published a piece in The Message that began, "I'm not surprised how often brands try to leverage celebrities and pop culture characters in their advertisements. I’m surprised by how often they do it poorly." It then went on to provide a few examples of brands that used celebrities and pop culture in ways that were less than ideal.
(For those of you who don't subscribe to The Message, the article is available on my blog.)
But Optus acknowledged a simple truth about most celebrity endorsements ("They ARE just doing it for the money!") and decided to have some fun with it.
And the brutally honest result is refreshing and brilliant.
P.S. In my ADdicted series, I like to showcase advertisements I see as effective due to a) what I can ascertain from the strategy (based on my own knowledge and experience), b) how well I believe the creative aligns with my assumed creative brief, or c) the objectives I believe would have been accomplished via the creative.
However, I'm very rarely privy to the actual creative brief used to commission the ads or the business results generated from any given campaign (both of which tend not to be made publicly available), so more often than not, my assessment of a given ad is subjective and makes assumptions on both the front (strategy) and back (results) of a campaign.
In the case of this spot, however, we're able to see some of the results that were achieved, thanks to an awards submission video that somebody involved with Optus (i.e. either the company itself or the agency responsible for this spot) created for the Cannes Film Festival (assumed based on the Lion logo in the top-right corner of the video) and then made publicly available on YouTube. I might argue some of these results (i.e. "2015 Cannes Lion - Cyber - Bronze") are far less important than others (i.e. "65% lift in Google Searches for Optus"), but I do enjoy knowing that creative I liked was also creative that worked.