Media Lifeline: Portraying dead people in ads

Bringing stars of the screen back to life has led to both criticism and some acclaimed advertising.

1982: The whole genre is inspired by Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, directed by Carl Reiner, in which clips of classic noir movies are intercut with modern footage to allow its star, Steve Martin, to interact with such legends as Humphrey Bogart. The first campaign inspired by the film, courtesy of Gold Greenlees Trott and Holsten Pils, sees Griff Rhys Jones interacting with the likes of Marilyn Monroe.

1997: Young & Rubicam reconfigures scenes from the 1968 film Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen, then a 37-year-old, in a commercial for the Ford Puma. The actor had died in 1980, but the agency paid a seven-figure sum to his estate.

1999: Coors Lite and its agency Foote Cone and Belding hire a John Wayne lookalike, Ermal Williamson, to act as a body-double in an extensive campaign of commercials. Footage of Wayne delivering lines from classic films is lifted and digitally transposed on to the canvas provided by Williamson. Many movie buffs, not least Wayne fans, claim to be rather upset.

May 2007: David Suddens, the boss of the Dr Martens footwear company, apologises following the furore that greeted an ad campaign featuring dead rock stars, including Kurt Cobain, wearing Docs. Among those upset is Courtney Love, Cobain's widow. Other stars in the Saatchi & Saatchi-created campaign include Sid Vicious, Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer.

July 2007: Bob Monkhouse is brought back to life by The Communications Agency to front a commercial to raise awareness of prostate cancer. Monkhouse is shown standing by his grave as he tells the viewers: "I'd have paid good money to stay out of here."

Fast forward ...

December 2007: Production on a commercial for an anti-ageing skin-care product featuring digitally enhanced archive footage of Keith Richards is halted when it is pointed out that the Rolling Stones guitarist is technically still alive. Much chastened, the manufacturer sends him some free samples as presents as he celebrates his 64th birthday on 18 December.

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