Whilst he's more renowned for his movie roles than his roles in advertising (indeed, according to IMDB he is officially the 'highest grossing actor of all time'), esteemed British actor (and oscar nominee) Gary Oldman is currently appearing in a rather subtle pair of ad spots from American advertising agency, Deutsch L.A. The ads in question are for the new 'HTC One M8' smartphone (launched in America yesterday), which takes a vastly different direction to the majority of mobile phone ads by simply informing viewers to “Ask the internet” if they wish to learn more about the phone. It would appear Oldman's job is simply to ask the viewers to make up their own minds.
The ads take a vastly different direction to the majority of mobile phone ads by simply informing viewers to “Ask the internet.”
Deutsch reclaimed the HTC America account from Ogilvy & Mather (Deutsch had been in charge of the Taiwanese company's business from 2009 up until last year), after their Robert Downey Jr spots from last August failed to turn the company's fortunes around (HTC posted their first annual losses in 2013). The Downy Jr ad (producing by Ogilvy & Mather's WPP stablemate 171 Worldwide) saw the actor known to millions worldwide as 'Iron Man' taking the HTC initials and using them to form amusing phrases such as “Hot Tea Catapult” and “Humungous Tinfoil Catamaran,” and whilst they were undoubtedly unique, they perplexed many of the company's executives and appeared to have little effect on the company's bottom line. Deutsch's Gary Oldman ads however have a significantly more refined atmosphere, with the grizzled, bespectacled thespian propelling the “Anti-advertising” concept in a modern apartment during a late-night rainstorm.
In both spots, he paces his apartment whilst explaining to the audience that he could tell us how amazing the phone is, but he won't. In the one spot he says that the audience “Either already know” they want the phone or “Want to see what others have to say about it,” and leaves the audience to search the internet for themselves whilst he 'waits', holding the audience in a steely, silent gaze for at least half of the adverts runtime. In the other spot (with the rain still pouring) he spends much of the 30 second runtime saying “Blah blah blah,” and intersperses this prattle with the line, "It doesn't matter what I say, because the all-new HTC One is designed for people who form their own opinions."
"Gary crosses genres and is recognised for craftsmanship in his field." HTC North America VP Erin McGee
Both spots hinge on the phrase, “Ask the internet,” and use a pseudo-noir filter, with the blues, blacks and reds providing a necessary counterpoint to the bright colours and giddy sounds of spots from competitors such as Apple and Samsung. Vice President of HTC North America, Erin McGee, believes the work is a necessary change from the Downey Jr ads, and that Oldman shines through, even through the gloomy weather. She says that "Gary crosses genres and is recognised for craftsmanship in his field," and that he was chosen for the role because he is “Aspirational but approachable.” A fact that can only be underlined by the numerous, eclectic roles he has played and the lives he has enriched in doing so.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer from the UK, whose favourite Gary Oldman performance is definitely 'Smiley' in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Or the bad guy from Lost in Space of course.