The best commercials find that magic formula of being so entertaining, consumers forget they’re watching a commercial. A winning ad campaign often utilizes a mascot or spokesperson, often with a catchphrase we can’t get out of our heads. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the Snapple lady or the guy who said, “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!” read on. These 10 spokesmen were removed from their place as the face of a company, sometimes for the silliest reasons and sometimes for the most horrific…
In the English-speaking world, Jake Wood is synonymous with the long-running television show “EastEnders,” but in the U.S., he was the voice of the Geico gecko for a decade. His soft cockney accent made him the perfect voice for a tiny green insurance icon. But he was summarily replaced after he refused to take a pay cut for the role. Fans of Wood were furious and took to social media to protest, albeit in vain.
R. Lee Ermey
Another Geico spokesman (and there are many of them), he’s also known from his roles in “Full Metal Jacket” and, oddly enough, the “Toy Story” movies as “The Army Guy” even though he was a decorated Marine. But his stint for Geico was apparently cut short due to comments he made about then-President Barack Obama in 2010. He apologized, but not before getting replaced by any number of other Geico mascots. He died in 2015, and was buried at Arlington Cemetery with full honors.
You don’t know his name, but you know him. He’s the Most Interesting Man In The World, and spokesman for Dos Equis beer. His easy manner and signature phrase, “Stay thirsty, my friends,” won acclaim from viewers who wanted to be him and marketers who wished they’d invented him. But despite the fact that, since the beginning of the campaign, the imported beer was successful in the U.S. where other imports fell flat, and despite the fact that the character was so ready made for memes and social media awareness, Dos Equis’s parent company (Heineken) decided that they knew best what millennials wanted, and that it was not an old guy selling them beer. They let Goldsmith go in 2016 and hired another actor shortly thereafter, but were forced to drop the campaign entirely in 2018.
The popular actor/comedian got his start in the movie “Cloverfield” but he has also done voice acting for several animated projects like “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Big Hero 6,” and “The Emoji Movie.” So it wasn’t a big stretch for himto take an animated role in ads, as the giant blob of snot in the Mucinex commercials. But when Miller faced accusations of assaulting a woman in college, the company replaced him with Jason Mantzoukas just in time for the Super Bowl ad buys. Miller’s legal troubles are still pending at this time.
Founder of Men’s Wearhouse, George Zimmer WAS the brand. He was the company’s face for decades, and his distinctive New York tones and signature line, “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it!” was a hallmark of late night television. But in 2013, he was removed from his position as executive chairman (and as spokesman) for reasons the company did not choose to disclose. Later, they claimed to have terminated him because he wanted to buy back complete control of the company (he owned $60 million in company stock). Zimmer has since gone on to found a new company, Generation Tux, and an app called zTailors.
The distinctive voice’s commercial success hinged on a single word: “AFLAC.” As a duck that can’t quack properly but is ready to help with workers’ insurance, his voice was everywhere. But Gottfried was a comedian with a tendency toward the controversial. He’d already been called out for joking about the 9/11 terror attacks just three weeks after it had happened. But this time he made jokes about the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, when AFLAC does almost 80% of its business in Japan. Gottfried was fired within an hour.
You might remember her as “the Snapple Lady,” an actual employee of the beverage company who was tasked with handling fan mail in the early ’90s. She became immensely popular and is credited for increasing company revenue from $25 million to over $750 million a year. But she was let go when the brand was bought by Quaker Oats in 1994. She returned in 1997 as “Snapple goodwill ambassador” but permanently severed her role in 2008 after its then-owner, Cadbury Schwepps, gave her an insultingly low contract renewal offer.
Ben Curtis’s commercial fame was short-lived but widely popular, playing the young man who helped sell computers with his signature catchphrase, “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!” In the early 2000s, computers were still on the pricey side, and schools were starting to require proficiency in them. These commercials sold to parents as well as students. But when Curtis was charged with criminal possession of marijuana in 2003, the company let him go. He went through a rough decade and has only recently started acting again.
If you’re of a certain age, you can still recall associating O.J. Simpson with running through an airport, not driving a Bronco away from police. You see, after his retirement from the NFL, Simpson was the face, name, and personality behind Hertz Rent-a-Car. After his arrest in 1994 on suspicion of killing his wife and her friend, the name was too hot to handle; although they had already replaced him as spokesman, the names Hertz and Simpson were linked in consumers’ minds.
He wasn’t a celebrity when he started, and he isn’t now that he’s finished, but for a long time he was the face and body of Subway sandwich shops. He had lost almost 250 lbs on a diet of low calorie sandwiches and became not only the spokesman for the company, but a worldwide weight loss icon. That is until his arrest for possession of child pornography and related crimes in 2015. Subway has since basically erased him from their corporate history.