"They pulled him out of the cold, cold ground - and they put him in a suit of lights."It's true that the best thing celebrities can do for their careers is to die - the earlier the better, so they can be frozen in time in our minds and forever young - just like Alphaville, Laura Branigan and Jay-Z want to be.
- Elvis Costello, "Suit of Lights"
Then, they can continue to star in TV ads for the rest of their deaths, the better to remind us of their artistic, political, and - of course - marketing genius.
No one asked for Martin Luther King, Einstein, Fred Astaire, or even Tiger Woods' dad to star in a commercial, and yet they all did. Some see the ads as a great tribute to someone who's gone but not forgotten, others see them as smearing the good name of someone who's no longer here to defend him or herself.
It does chill one's soul to consider a youngster asking his or her parents the question: "Was Martin Luther King a great civil rights leader or the spokesman for a telephone company?"
There are exceptions to the rule, as the last ad here proves.
But it's hard to imagine that it would ever be a good idea to feature Adolf Hitler in an ad - for pizza, Q-Tips, mustache wax, or anything. It's equally hard to believe that Kurt Cobain ever wore Birkenstocks in Earth as it is in Heaven or Gandhi did all o' that protestin' to sell iPads.
The worst offenders:
1. Gandhi for computers:
2. Che Guevara for automobiles:
3. Kurt Cobain for sensible footwear:
4. Lennon and Ono for computers:
5. Adolf Hitler for pizza
And the exception to the rule:
Yul Brynner, who recorded this anti-smoking ad when he knew he was dying of cancer: