In 2015 it was reported that there were over 115 million home TVs in the United States. It is arguably the most powerful source of marketing for companies, hence why our shows and programmes are interrupted with countless commercials.
Commercials are meant to be catchy, with a tune or phrase usually the way to go, or even a returning actor regularly featured in the 30 second clip. Many actors, including Leonardo Di Caprio and Brad Pitt started out in TV advertising.
So we’ve collected the most loved commercials of all time and found out what happened to some of our favourite commercial characters and the actors who played them.
Jodie Foster’s long and successful career in acting started when she was just three years old with a role as the ‘Coppertone Girl’. She then went on to feature in a number of commercials as a child actor, including one for the GAF Viewfinder.
Her big film debut came in Taxi Driver which helped skyrocket her career!
Dos Equis Beer Commercial
Many people will recognise this commercial not because they remember it being on TV, but because of all the internet memes that have been created from it. Jonathan Goldsmith’s wife and manager told producers that her man was a lot more suited to ‘the most interesting man in the world’ image they wanted.
Thanks to the surge in internet memes, Goldsmith rose to fame and everyone knows who Dos Equis beer are.
Back in 1999, actor Aaron Paul played a young man who has just ‘gotta have my pops’. Now we know him as Jesse Pinkman from the AMC hit series Breaking Bad. What a transformation!
It may have been around for decades but Burger King is still one of the most successful international fast food chains. Maybe their secret to success was employing Ben Affleck in the early 90’s as their ‘Burger King King’. In the clip we see him at the drive in, ordering himself a delicious meal, while looking not too bad himself.
It may be cringey to watch back now, but it certainly didn’t stop him from becoming a hugely successful actor in Hollywood.
Isaiah Mustafa is by far the most well known actor who has helped promote Old Spice, but before he was a hit star on the commercials, Mustafa was in the NFL as a Wide Receiver. But after his career in the sport came to an end, Old Spice swooped in and put him in front of a camera.
It’s hard to believe but Hollywood superstar Brad Pritt was involved in one of the earliest Pringles commercials. Obviously this was just a stepping stone for Pitt who has gone to feature in many hit films including Ocean’s Eleven, Fight Club and World War Z.
Actors Justin Hagan and Henry Strozier’s characters may not get on in the Ocean Spray commercial but thanks to their involvement in the campaign, off screen they are the best of friends.
In the 1980s Coca-Cola had absolutely no idea that their commercial star Keanu Reeves would go on to be one of the most famous actors in the world. He used to be a young boy who just wanted a Coke, but we now know him as John Wick!
Magnum Ice Cream
Magnum used actress Rachel Bilson to promote their delicious product when she was at the peak of her stardom thanks to the success of The O.C. and That 70’s Show.
Bilson’s most recent role saw her play Dr. Zoe Hart on The CW series Hart of Dixie.
AT&T Commercial- Beck Bennett
‘It’s not that complicated’.
Bennett is well known for his phrase in the commercials, but he is also a regular on the hilarious sketches on Saturday Night Live. The comedian has also been involved with hit show Arrested Development and recently released Zoolander 2.
We don’t want to know how much Betty White was paid to feature in Snickers’ advert playing a hungry NFL player, but it was certainly money well spent as it was hilarious and made us all crave a bite of the chocolate bar!
When you’re one of the most well known TV presenters in America, it’s quite easy to get commercial work. Steve Harvey is the loveable face of T-Mobile meaning he has gone from getting families to gamble in Family Feud to convincing us to buy a new phone.
For a domain selling website, GoDaddy are certainly risky when it comes to their advertising campaigns, especially this one were actress Rachelle Wood was seen in a skimpy outfit.
Wood has a decent array of acting credits now including How I Met Your Mother, Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Rules of Engagement.
Her career as an adult may have been questionable, but Lindsay Lohan’s child acting career was impressive. She appeared in over 60 commercials during her younger years but most notably in an advert alongside Bill Cosby selling Jell-O!
Maull’s BBQ Sauce
Before she burst onto the scene in a skimpy school girl outfit singing ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’, Britney Spears appeared in a commercial for BBQ sauce! Her career has since been a rollercoaster, but recently she has reignited her music career and is playing sold-out shows in Las Vegas.
Apple – Mac V PC
It was a simple advert but an effective one, especially as it brought out the Mac as the top contender. Actor John Hodgman was the role of the PC, alongside Justin Long as the Mac.
Hodgman brought some hilarity to the role, which has helped in his role on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Free Credit Score
Whether you like it or not, you know the commercial for FreeCreditScore.com with the singing guys in the car! Actor Eric Violette was cast to be in the car but he doesn’t actually sing because of his heavy French-Canadian accent but lip syncs instead.
Mutual Savings Bank
Before we saw her in Saturday Night Live and Hollywood movies, Tina Fey was in an awful commercial for the Mutual Saving bank as a mom with a terrible 90s haircut. She won’t look back at it fondly, but like a lot of actors in this list, it was a stepping stone.
Oscar nominated actor Stanley Tucci was once the male lead in the Levi’s commercials! We know him thanks to the Hunger Games Franchise and Captain America, but maybe he used his experience in Levi’s commercials to help him in his role in the Devil Wears Prada!
Progressive Insurance Commercial
Flo! Everyone remembers actress Stephanie Courtney in her role as Flo who loves insurance! She started the role in 2008 and is still used in their latest commercials.
Away from Progressive Insurance, Courtney has been involved in comedy shows including Tom Goes To The Mayor but also played the role of Marge in AMC show Mad Men.
What a transformation this is! The man behind the caveman make-up and hair is actually actor John Lehr who is known famously for his role on 10 Items or Less.
On a side note, Geico’s commercials are epic with their lizards and caveman settings, but they’re definitely memorable which is exactly what you want in a commercial.
Virgin Movie Commercial
What do you do when you want to advertise your fast internet speed? Employ the fastest man on earth of course! Virgin and Richard Branson hired Usain Bolt to help promote their new service in a series of hilarious commercials.
Jared The Subway Guy
Jared Fogle lost over 200 lbs thanks to Subway sandwiches and so the company decided to use him in their advertising, a match made in heaven! He was the face of Subway for 15 years, until he was found guilty of having child pornography and paying for inappropriate contact with minors. He is now serving a minimum sentence of 13 years in federal prison.
In 2005, celebrity Paris Hilton satisfied Carl Jr’s brief by chowing down on a burger while also washing a car in her bikini. The advert enraged people but effectively got people talking about the product.
It was so successful that Paris was involved in an another advertising campaign with the fast food chain in 2014.
Actress Diane Amos or the Pine-Sol lady doesn’t just sell cleaner, her acting credits include Patch Adams, Blue Jasmin, and Sweet November. But unfortunately for her whenever we see her in anything else we struggle to take her seriously with Pine-Sol.
Lego brilliantly used the same girl from 1981 in their ad campaign in 2014! The girl, Rachel Giordano, now 40, didn’t pursue an acting career but instead became a Naturopathic Doctor!
Legendary voice actor Gilbert Gottfried is the voice behind the Aflac duck!
Gottfried is no stranger to playing the voice of an animal, having voiced Iago, the parrot in Disney’s Aladdin.
Laurel Coppock – known for her roles in The Office, Modern Family and Curb Your Enthusiasm – is also Toyota Jan! Her experience in comedy sketches is perfect for this ‘to the point’ saleswoman in the commercial.
Legendary actor Christopher Walken may have starred in Sleepy Hollow, Batman Returns, The Stepford Wives, Catch Me If You Can, Seven Psychopaths, and The Deer Hunter, but he too has been involved in commercials. His series of Kia Motors adverts will have certainly boosted their sales.
Model Bar Refaeli shocked the Superbowl audience when she not only starred in a Go Daddy commercial but she shared a 10-second long kiss with on-screen nerd, Jesse Heiman. Apparently it took 60 takes to get the kissing scene perfect, surprisingly it wasn’t Heiman wanting to get more takes in but actually Refaeli!
Playstation used Jerry Lambert’s experience to help them promote their new console in 2009-2010 as he protrayed Kevin Butler the Vice President of ‘Epic Footage’. Lambert’s credits including Family Guy, Horrible Bosses and Everybody loves Raymond.
Our list wouldn’t be complete without a mcDonald’s advert! The Goonies star Corey Feldman was the star in this particular commercial. After his early stardom, Feldman’s career died down and in an attempt to forge a career in the music business he released an album which had relative success. He now makes more money in personal appearances as ‘The Goonies star, Cory Feldman’.
Kristen Stewart was the child star in the Porsche adverts back in the late 90’s-early 00’s! She has come a long way since the pig-tails in that advert, with a decent career in acting thanks mainly to her role as Bella Swan in Twilight.
Just like Ben Affleck, one of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s first roles was in a Burger King commercial. At just four years old Gellar starred in the commercial which helped catapult her career. We now know her as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and also her role in the film adaptations of Scooby-Doo.
It’s the mop that has it all, but it is the commercial that has a lot of Vince Offer too. He is not just the writer, director and actor in the commercials but he is actually the owner of the product!
Carly Foulkes is also the face for T-Mobile and has lead campaigns including the issue of texting and driving. She has been with the company for several years, most recently signing on with Shakira to be corporate spokespersons.
Time Warner Cable
Actor Mike O’Malley was once the ‘repair guy’ in a commercial for Time Warner Cable!
O’Malley is another actor who has gone on to bigger and better things, including roles in Glee, My Name Is Earl, Sully and Eat Pray Love.
Morgan Smith Goodwin changed her hair colour from natural blonde to red for her commercial with the fast food giant. It is with no doubt that it was this role that got the actress noticed and lead to her getting a number of jobs, including a role in the film, Circumstance.
Wendy’s Guy Commercial
Aaron Takahashi was used by Wendy’s when their sales lowered and thanks to his hilarious series of adverts, not only has Wendy’s seen an improvement but Takahashi’s career has skyrocketed!
You’ll recognise him in Yes Man, alongside Jim Carrey, The Wedding Ringer, television shows like, New Girl, Conan, Mr. Robot, Sin City Saints, and Dog Park.
The first of our Allstate commercials features actor Dean Winters or ‘Mr Mayhem’. He is a disaster guy in the commercials but with acting credits in Oz, 30 Rock, and Law and Order: Special Victim’s Unit, his career is anything but a disaster.
Steve Carrell is no stranger to the red carpet, but back in the day he was more associated to Brown’s Chicken having featured in a commercial for the fast food chain. He played an employee who was just plain happy to be working there, which probably set him up well for The 40-Year-Old Virgin film role.
‘Can you hear me now? Gooooood’ is arguably the most famous line in American television! Actor, Paul Marcarelli was the face and voice behind the line and was the actor in all of the Verizon Wireless commercials for many years. When Verizon decided to take a different course with their advertising, he signed a huge contract with Sprint, Verizon’s competitor!
The Allstate man/Dennis Haybert isn’t just an actor used to remind you how important insurance is, but he has also played the President of the US on the show 24.
Incredibly that boy during the 1980s who wouldn’t stop talking about how big he could blow his bubblegum was actually Leonardo Di Caprio! We all know what happened next with his role in Titanic sending him into stardom!
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
Fabio’s story is the classic tale of someone following the American dream. The actor and model is most well known for his role in the ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ commercials. Since that fame he has mainly appeared in cameo roles, but recently starred in Sharknado 5!
She is the AT&T girl! We know her as talkative girl Lily, but actress Milana Vayntrub is nothing like her onscreen character and has kept her private life very secret.
She has been in television productions such as ER, Lizzie McGuire, The Division, The League, House of Lies, Californication, and most recently on the hit show, This Is Us.
She’s just landed the role of Squirrel Girl in Marvel’s ‘New Warriors’ series.
Vanessa Branch was the woman who had a “just brushed, fresh, clean feeling. Fabulous!” But away from that budding actress Vanessa has been involved in a number of productions, with her role as Captain Jack Sparrow’s ex-love interest in Pirates of the Caribbean being her most well known.