New York Times advertising critic, Stuart Elliot, today explores the staying power and charm of ensemble casts in advertising.
Last month, BBDO New York introduced a campaign for Sierra Mist lemon-lime soda, sold by the Pepsi-Cola North America division of PepsiCo, that is centered on an ensemble cast called “The Mist-Takes.” There are five comedians, featured in a dozen television commercials as well as on posters and a Web site (mist-takes.com).
The first use of ensemble casts may have been in commercials heard during the so-called golden days of radio, when advertisers and agencies produced the programming. During episodes of hits like “Fibber McGee and Molly,” “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” and “The Jack Benny Program,” the casts would help deliver the pitches.
The practice continued into the early years of television, on series like “I Love Lucy,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and even “The Flintstones,” in which – hard as it is to believe now – some of the cartoon characters smoked Winston cigarettes.
Since then, ensemble casts have returned from time to time, most notably in television spots known as sitcommercials because they mimic the look and feel of episodes of TV situation comedies. Brands like Bell Atlantic, 4C Foods and Rag