Wednesday, October 28, 2009

DirecTV's Spade-Farley ad criticized as in poor taste

"DirecTV has raised a ruckus by raising the dead" CNN reported on October 28, 2009. "The satellite TV company has relied on dead celebrities to push its satellite television packages -- last year's "Poltergeist" ad starred the late Heather O'Rourke, for example -- but the cable company's latest promotion featuring Chris Farley in "Tommy Boy" has stirred up fresh controversy, with many believing that the ad was done in poor taste."

So I saw the Chris Farley/David Spade commercial on October 27 and was amazed by how WRONG it seemed. Let me say right now that I have not see the commercial with Heather O'Rourke because that's just awful too.

Can we just leave dead entertainers out of these commercials?"The 30-second spot features Farley, who died in 1997 of heart failure because of an overdose, in the infamous "Fat Boy in a Little Coat" scene from the 1995 comedy that co-starred David Spade."

When I first saw that commercial, I thought, Wow, David Spade looks like he's hanging on to Chris Farley for his career no matter what! Besides Saturday Night Live, how many movies were they in together? Four? I hadn't even thought like Heather O'Rourke, someone (the family, most likely, as executors of the estates) had to give legal permission for the footage to be used.

"When DirecTV came to me and the Farley family with this idea about 'Tommy Boy,' we talked and thought it would be a cool way to remind people just how funny Chris was," Spade said in a statement. "It is a clever homage to my friend and a movie that we loved doing."

As for DirecTV, they were taking cues from Farley's loved ones.

"We should look to Chris' family and friends for the ultimate opinion on this subject," said Jon Gieselman, senior vice president of advertising and public relations for DirecTV. "They were on board with the concept from the very beginning and throughout the entire process and felt the spot was a great to tribute to Chris."

This is different than showing a movie in which an actor has since died (Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee, Heath Ledger, Christopher Reeve, take your pick). Someone is still making money on those broadcasts (again, probably the estate of that actor). But at least those movies were made while the actor was still alive. He or she knew what they were doing, and not being manipulated later on for a commercial.

Hmmmmmmmm, I wonder if we'll ever see a commercial with Heath Ledger. That would seem pretty distasteful too. Can you imagine him, in the Joker makeup, having Batman interrogate him about his DirecTV usage?

The Joker: We really should stop fighting, we'll miss the fireworks!
Batman: We don't need to stay here to watch fireworks. We can watch them on DirecTV in HD from the comfort of the Batcave!
The Joker: And here... we... go!
[Silence. Nothing happens. Confused, Joker turns to look at the clock, which shows that it's past midnight and neither ferry has blown the other up]
Batman: What were you hoping to prove? That live fireworks are somehow more reliable than DirecTV's service and signal? You're *alone*!
The Joker: [sighs] Can't rely on anyone these days...

But now, knowing how much Chris Farley's family thought it was a good idea, I hate this commercial even more. It comes across like everyone is grubbing for money through a dead comedian. Chris Farley was a funny guy, ans sure, he had his problems, but that commercial just seems to be a slap in the face of his memory. Truthfully, enough time has passed since his 1997 death that until now, he hasn't really been relevant. This commercial just seems to come out of no where. When was the last time you heard someone yell, "My name is Matt Foley and I am a motivational speaker! I am 35 years old, I am thrice divorced and I live in a VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!" Okay, someone other then me. :)

But the sad thought is this: why do I think that Chris himself wouldn't have a problem with it? He might really think it's funny.

Considering we'll never really know how Chris feels about this commercial, I guess the point for hating it is moot. I'm not going to post it here. If you want to see it, I will link to it here.


  1. When is Dish Network gonna jump on the whole "dead guy" gravy train? Maybe Jake Gyllenhall or Michelle Williams is ready to offer up Heath Ledger? So Wrong! I tend to remember fallen celebrities as they were, as seen here:

  2. Definitely agree with you and wonder what Chris would have thought. Regardless, it is eerie to think of other deceased celebs that might be coming up in ads. Of course the video responses are up, too.

    Can't link them here for some reason but just search DirecTV commercial on YouTube and you get a plethora.

    I just hope we dont see other providers like Dish Network or whoever else start doing this.

  3. I found another great video for those that are interested!

  4. I was curious as to what the You Tube video was going to be, but it comes up as an invalid ID.


  5. 2nd You Tube true! Loved the "DIE-rect TV" enunciation!