You don't think you know the actor Henry Miller, but you're almost
certainly wrong. If you've a keen eye for ads, then you're probably very
familiar with Miller's work. In fact, for the past few weeks it's been
hard to avoid him.
Recently, Miller has graced our screens in three different
He's the bagel-orderer in Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's Yellow Pages spot,
the Ibiza-loving lad who feigns the loss of his passport in J. Walter
Thompson's Smirnoff Ice campaign, and he is also in St Luke's COI
Communications literacy gremlins work. So what is it about his face that
endears him to so many agencies?
Jeanette Scott, the agent at Crouch Associates, who represents Miller,
says: "There's a slight charming vulnerability about Henry, and people
like that. He always looks like he could have the same failings as the
rest of us."
He also possesses a crucial skill among actors - the ability to get on
with everyone. "Whenever he goes to the castings he charms them," Scott
says. "They want people to buy their product, and people trust him."
Adrian Harrison, the managing director of RSA Films, explains that many
actors are chosen for this very reason: "The successful ones are usually
very good in casting performances - they know how to present themselves
to the director better than anyone else."
Amanda Tabak, a casting director at Candid Casting, believes some actors
may not be the best in the business, but that doesn't matter. "The ones
who are repeatedly used in ads are consumer friendly - they have a
certain warmth and approachability that members of the public can relate
to," she says.
But isn't a recurring face detrimental to autonomous advertisers?
Harrison thinks not. "Each ad is such a one-off," he says - a view
echoed by Miller himself.
"They pay a certain amount of attention to the fact you're on air
simultaneously," Miller says, adding that it has never been a hindrance
To prevent any conflict problems from the outset, an actor is obliged to
fill out a casting declaration form of ads done in the past three
So, theoretically, agency producers go into the process with their eyes
open. It seems, however, that some actors can be economical with the
"You're relying on them to tell you what they've done," Sue Lee-Stern,
the head of TV at Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, says.
And while some might argue that seeing an increasingly familiar face
could confuse brand association, and weaken effectiveness, it seems that
some agencies don't mind when actors have been in other ads - especially
if the part they've played has not been significant.
"Most of the time it's pure coincidence that they appear three at a
time," Harrison says.
Whether it's by fluke or design, it seems clear that agencies don't mind
their performers spending airtime on other products - provided they're
not direct competitors. And until Miller breaks into a TV sitcom, and
becomes too loaded with associations for advertisers to stomach, we can
look forward to him lighting up our ad breaks for a while to come.