Monday, February 8, 2010

Abe Vigoda, the ideal Super bowl commercial spokesperson / actor for a country in search of change and hope.

In 1975, Barney Miller premiered on ABC television as a television sit com cop show. The cop show without action or violence but snappy dialogue had a very successful 8 year run on ABC. All the characters were memorable and perhaps Abe "Fish" Vigoda made the most lasting impression on me.

Abe played an elderly police detective named Fish who acted even older than he looked. Abe was 55 at the time his character named Fish looked like he was 70 going on 90. Barney Miller ended its successful ABC run around 1983. By the early 90's, I recall reading or hearing someone say that Abe was no longer alive. By the late 90's, anyone too lazy to look up on the internet what had become of Abe Vigoda might have assumed Abe Vigoda had most assuredly passed by then.

In the early 2000's, I recall reading a story, possibly in one of the tabloid newspapers that Abe Vigoda was actually still alive, and it surprised me. I think in the article Abe actually mentioned that many people genuinely were surprised that he was still alive as they just assumed he had passed on.
In the 2010 Super Bowl snickers commercial starring Betty White, an unheralded Abe Vigoda delivers a memorable closing line of..."That hurt"! In the local news coverage that I have seen so far, NOBODY has mentioned that it was Abe Vigoda!

The media reported on the "Betty White" super bowl snickers commercial as being one of the funniest from the 2010 Super Bowl but the media seems to have missed the significance of ABE VIGODA ON THE GROUND, IN THE MUD, ALIVE and delivering a very funny ending to a funny commercial.

How can Abe Vigoda not be a rediscovered star 20 years after people thought he was dead is beyond me. Abe could probably star in a series of commercials for all kinds of products, each product would start with the same tag line....
"Hi, I'm Abe Vigoda, people thought I was dead 20 years ago, but they were wrong. What do I owe my longevity to....?
...then insert product name here..., then come back to Abe Vigoda making some rueful comment about his agent encouraging him to play an aging detective on Barney Miller that basically prematurely ended his career after Barney Miller went off the air.

The combination of Abe Vigoda on the ground at the end of the Snickers commercial, and his "That hurts" comment lives up to the kind of consulting advice I would endeavor to bring to anyone who hires me as a commercials consultant.

Whomever came up with that ending can be credited with a master stroke ending that memorable commercials always end with, and I commend whomever it was that made it happen.

It would be worthy of a short youtube video on the making of that ending just to see how it came to be. Was it the editor who threw it in, did Abe Vigoda ad lib it? Was it a forgotten moment suddenly remembered? I would like to know. When a commercial ends on an up note, the entire commercial suddenly gets elevated in popularity, and the Betty White / Abe Vigoda commercial lives up to the challenge of being a memorable commercial specifically because of Abe's final "That hurt" comment.

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