Remote Control - Saturday September 20, 2014

Make a claim on big star credibility

Saturday, 20th September 2014, 8:00 am
Harvey Keitel

It used to be that the really big name stars would only hawk themselves to TV adverts in far-flung places.

In those pre-internet days they could take the money safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t be seen in their home countries where it might damage their credibility (apart from in mickey taking shows fronted by Chris Tarrant).

These days though there’s a good chance you’ll see more stars in the breaks than you will in the actual programme you’re trying to watch.

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Kevin Bacon’s series of faux-whimsical mobile phone adverts probably tops the current pile of commercial crud.

But insurance companies in general seem intent in carving out a special niche in career debasement – Iggy Pop (and his freaky puppet doppleganger), Snoop Dogg, and now Harvey Keitel.

In Pulp Fiction, Keitel (pictured) played a cameo as The Wolf – the man you called when a problem needed fixing fast with no questions asked. He was one of the coolest characters in a film full of cool characters.

Now, apparently, he has been pressed back into action for, oh yes, Direct Line insurance – the company which made itself famous with a cute red phone on wheels.

Maybe because I’ve never been offered huge amounts of money for minimal work to dump a large amount of excrement on a previously well-regarded legacy, I can’t understand why an actor would be willing to do this.

Why Harvey? Why? Surely you don’t need the money?

Insurance is a necessary evil – you may resent paying for it, but when you need it, by God you’re grateful you had it.

Insurance companies should stop spending money on big names and get on with cracking down on fraudsters, keeping our premiums down and paying out when needed. They are not, and never will be ‘cool.’

But these companies are now staffed by managers who resent the fact that they didn’t grow up to be ‘cool’, they ended up in insurance.

Which is why they spank fortunes on these terrible adverts, hoping some of the aura will rub off on them by association. Here’s a clue: it won’t.

I guess we should just be grateful Keitel doesn’t burst into a song hymning the virtues of insurance.

Chris Broom