Those who tuned into the Golden Globes on Sunday night may have been surprised to see a Martha Stewart cough drop ad break up the usual prime time commercials. It was oddly direct and old-fashioned, as if someone from Saturday Night Live directed it for one of its spoofs.
Well, a former SNL director — who also happens to be lead writer of the David Spade comedy "Joe Dirt" — was behind it, and Stewart was recruited only after the first actress suffered a "nervous breakdown" right before filming. Despite the confused reactions on Twitter Sunday night, the Pine Brothers lozenge company said it has doubled the brand's sales since it premiered in October.
In the commercial, Martha Stewart walks into a room and introduces herself only by her first name. There is no soundtrack, and the only effect is a jarring JPEG overlay of Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops:
Victoria Knight-McDowell, creator of the popular herbal supplement Airborne (she sold the company in 2005), bought the dying Pine Brothers brand with her husband Rider McDowell in 2011. We talked to Rider about the ad.
"We reached out to Martha via her agent at CAA, after our first actress had a nervous breakdown the morning of the shoot," he said. Stewart had been Pine Brothers' first choice all along, but the company did not immediately go to her because it assumed she would not want to endorse a product that did not have her name attached to it.
But Stewart agreed. McDowell directed the other Pine Bros. ads made by the brand's in-house team but decided to recruit his friend Fred Wolf, a comedy writer and director whose work also includes "Grown Ups" and "The Chevy Chase Show."
The ad's lack of background noise separated it from the commercials that played before and after it.
"The ad was indeed direct, and hopefully arrestingly so. The goal was to show Martha's endorsement and to directly assert the virtues of the product. In a world full of bells and whistles, the idea was to have a simple approach," McDowell said.
The ad premiered in late October and has been airing during daytime television. McDowell said the company paid "under $2 million" to have the ad shown during the Golden Globes and its pre-show and after-show segments.
According to McDowell, Stewart's endorsement has been enormously beneficial.
"And at 72 [she] is very easy on the eyes!" he added.
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