Top five action heroes in TV ads

Ahead of Sylvester Stallone's advertising cameo for Warburtons, Campaign runs down the list of Hollywood action heroes who have appeared in UK commercials.

'You gotta do what you gotta do': Movie star Sly Stallone swaps guns for buns
'You gotta do what you gotta do': Movie star Sly Stallone swaps guns for buns

Sylvester Stallone, the star of Rambo and Rocky, will make his UK commercial debut tomorrow in a spot for Warburtons bread.

Stallone is just the latest in a long line of ageing action heroes to make an advertising cameo. The stars, who flexed their muscles with straight faces in movies in the 80s and 90s, have since developed a kitsch appeal that has been exploited, mostly to great success, by brands.

Ahead of Warburtons' new spot, Campaign takes a look at some of the most successful appearances in ads by action movie stars.

1. Jean-Claude Van Damme

Van Damme has mined his ironic appeal, both in films and in commercials, more than any other star. Just how much the actor is in on the joke is a matter of debate but, either way, it’s hugely enjoyable watching the Kickboxer star perform as a mullet-sporting hermit for Coors Light, or talk about how his legs are "engineered to defy the laws of physics" for Volvo.

Corrs Light "ice bar" by VCCP

Vovo Trucks "epic split" by Forsman & Bodenfors

2. Steven Seagal

The Orange "gold spot" ads always worked best when it they featured an actor or celebrity who looked like they took themselves a bit too seriously.

The same is true with most comedy. That’s why Steven Seagal’s turn for the brand, where he tries to flog producers a romantic vanity project, worked so well. Small piece of advertising trivia: VCCP planned to approach Seagal to do the Coors Light ads if Van Damme turned them down.

Orange Mobile "Steven Segal" by Mother

3. Mr T

Snickers has benefitted from ingenious advertising over the years. 'Get Some Nuts' is not as clever an idea as "you’re not you when you’re hungry", but the former boasted Mr T driving a tank and throwing chocolate bars at anyone he deemed a fool, and that counts for something.

The follow up ad, where Mr T admonished a speed walker and told him to run "like a real man" was withdrawn by the brand after people complained that it was homophobic.

Snickers "get some nuts" Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger pinched Orange’s two-for-one cinema ticket promotion and needed a celebrity to help launch it.

Kudos to them and VCCP for securing arguably one of the greatest movie stars of all time – Arnold Schwarzenegger. (note: this is a different thing to being one of the greatest actors).

The idea is not as strong as Snickers or Orange, but it’s still amusing to watch a man who governed California for eight years yell at a CGI meerkat. "set tour" by VCCP

5. Bruce Willis

Willis never looked truly comfortable in his outing for Sky broadband. Perhaps it was because the Die Hard star is a more rounded actor than Van Damme or Seagal and lacked the faint air of ridiculousness that makes these kinds of advertising cameos so appealing.

At least Willis doesn't have to worry about the ad popping up on TV again. The spot was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for containing misleading information about pricing.

Sky Broadband "Bruce Willis" by WCRS


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