Why the UK’s always been a good advert for Hollywood

Winston Wolf for Direct Line? Nothing new.

The likes of Harvey Keitel and Kevin Bacon seem to be permanent fixtures on British TV screens these days. Over the last few years, there’s been a glut of Hollywood’s finest only too happy to put their faces to brands we know and love. We’ve had Al Pacino playing indoor golf for Sky Broadband, Arnold Schwarzenegger doing a comic turn with those pesky meerkats, and even Sly Stallone delivering Warburtons loaves. Such A-listers have, however, been doing this for years, as these five can testify.

Joan Collins – Cinzano (1978-1983)

When was the last time you heard someone ask for a glass of cinzano at the bar? Back in the day though, this was a tipple that screamed class and sophistication. So who better to spearhead the campaign than Ms. Collins. With a little help from comedy great Leonard Rossiter, it was a case of acting royalty taking an enjoyable break from filmmaking for this memorable series of yesteryear. Her effort for Snickers, some three decades later, was none too shabby either.

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Rutger Hauer – Guinness (1987-1993)

The Hitcher and Blade Runner star’s unmistakably steely features and cool, menacing tones lent themselves perfectly to this mysterious and darkly-humoured campaign. With a run of 24 separate ads,  all sporting the slogan ‘Pure Genius’, sales of the black stuff increased by 22% in just three months.

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Jeff Goldblum – Holsten Pils (1990-1993)

Quirky with some subtle humour thrown in, this run of commercials for the once high-flying bottled lager was tailor-made for the Jurassic Park and Independence Day actor. Also, if ever there was something that put you in the mood for a cold one on a hot, summer’s day (whatever happened to them?!) it’s right here.

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Uma Thurman – Virgin Media (2007)

Yes, this article’s not all about the alcohol! Even though her career had skyrocketed in the 90s thanks to the success of Pulp Fiction, Thurman’s fortunes soon hit the skids, as flops such as Batman & Robin and The Avengers prove only too well. So it’s probable that, unlike the rest of the megastars that you see during the break nowadays, she took this gig to gain some credibility. Did it work? You be the judge.

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Jackie Chan – Woolworths (2012)

Hands up if you remember this one. Thought not. Even though it’s the most recent of the bunch, it’s surprising how few people can actually recall Tinseltown’s favourite martial artist lending his services to the now defunct high street giant. Ah, Woolworths. I’m getting all teary now…

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