Selling Out: The Most Famous Movie & TV Characters Featured in Adverts

Instantly familiar, famous characters from pop culture have been drafted in for ads for decades now. At their best easily transitioning the fact that you’re watching a piece of film which only exists there to sell you something seamlessly like a 30 second Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and at their worst coming off as a caricature you’d see frolicking on the side of an ice-cream van. Inspired entirely by Gizmo’s appearance in the latest Mountain Dew commercial (below), FinalBoss took a deep dive and filled their shopping basket…

GIZMO/MOUNTAIN DEW

Fuelling the fire that we’re getting a new slew of Gremlins content over the next few years, this story finds an older Billy (Zach Galligan, returning for the role) and Gizmo chilling back with a frosty cold bottle of Mountain Dew. What could go wrong?

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Galligan said:

“There was a time when we were shooting the commercial, and we had a little bit of a break, and the puppeteer is next to me and he’s manipulating Gizmo’s arms. I leaned over to Gizmo and I was like, ‘How are you doing, buddy? It’s good to see you.’ It was so realistic that, after hours of working with it, it has its own reality,” he said. “I did get a little choked up, not so much about reuniting with the puppet, but more that it sends you rocketing back 37 years in a way that almost nothing else does.

RICK & MORTY/VARIOUS

Rick & Morty, a show known for its intelligence, wry humour and fourth wall breaks here went for exactly that – knowing that they were in a commercial and mocking themselves for it in bite size advertising gold. In perhaps the most inventive of this list, these feel more like  side quests to the series as Rick battles Pringles-based androids and Morty asks simply “Why do you keep selling us out?”

ADIDAS/STAR-WARS

So much uproar has been caused by Star Wars’ special editions, with changes in every corner. Did Han shoot first? In this superb Adidas commercial, watch as unofficial Jedi Snoop Doggy Dogg and David Beckham rub shoulders with Obi Wan, whilst Jay Barachel accidentally murders Greedo. MACKLUNKY!

HULK & ANT-MAN/COKE

Up there with Ben Affleck’s Daredevil performance and that time Captain America threw his shield and it made a “WANK!” noise, here’s Hulk drinking a Coke in a “Whatever, It’s The Superbowl” moment. Marvel are yet to confirm when exactly this commercial takes place in the MCU timeline.

ROBOCOP/DIRECT LINE

Really bizarre this one. 1980s Robocop here is still on the case – and the only thing stopping him this time is, uh, Direct Line and a man named “Tom”. Following on from Direct Line’s Harvey Keitel’s long-running Winstone Wolf series of ads, came a rebranding in the way of Robocop, Bumblebee and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Derek Mears said on his Facebook: “The #Robocop suit I wore for this @DirectLine spot that @LegacyEffects made was outstanding. Applause to them & all involved with the delightful commercial!!

Wendy Moores of Direct Line said on LicenseGlobal said: “Our customers know that the second anything goes wrong, we will leap into action and have them covered,”… “Our new campaign suggests that we are so good at doing this that we’re even better problem solvers than some of the world’s best and most loved heroes, to ensure we stay ahead of the insurance pack.”

HOME-ALONE/GOOGLE

In a meta take, Joe Pesci and Macaulay Culkin – for the most part, both retired actors now – return as themselves whilst watching their characters in Home Alone. Titled simply “Joe Pesci watches Home Alone Again” this campaign released around Christmas served as a festive reminder of what was and what will be.

PAC-MAN/7-UP

In this 1982 commercial, we see Pac-Man’s questionable diet finally come to a head; through consuming pizza and ice cream he needs a 7-UP to quench his thirst – all complimented to a totally original take on the hit song Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes. Finally, through the power of soda, we see an age old war between ghost and hockey puck come to an end as they can find common ground through a mutual love of soft drink.

CLASSIC CARTOONS/HALIFAX BANK

For these series of Halifax adverts, the Hanna Barbera library was entirely pillaged; utilising The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo and Top Cat all desperately in need of a new checking account.

SCOOBY-DOO/CEREAL

Everyone’s favourite mutt with a speech impediment selling cereal. Almost entirely inaudiable start to finish, we get the famous hound here in the vocal booth while a large man shouts at him and Shaggy is presumably stoned. Jinkies!

LARA CROFT/LUCOZADE

Perhaps the most impressive on this list, what does Lara Croft need in between raiding tombs? Lucozade of course. These ads showed fully animated and oddly atmospheric cutscenes in a way that created a strange narrative that rewarded you for continuing to watch. If you haven’t seen these before you’re in for such a treat…

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE/MONEY SUPERMARKET

Money Supermarket, no stranger to big random gestures, here employed He-Man and arch-enemy Skeletor, and uh, made them dance? Which was about as good as the live-action movie I suppose.

What adverts have we missed? Have we learnt anything? Probably not! Let us know in the comments! And check out more TV and movie content!

Jon Holmes
Jon Holmes
Jon Holmes is a writer based in Bristol, UK. Alongside his articles, he also writes for stage and screen, having spearheaded his Youtube channel: "Hans H.S". He can be followed on Twitter at @Jonnyjonjon1

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