The only ghost we should be seeing on our screens is Casper! But there’s something about dead celebs in marketing that transcends the confines of good taste and ensures that they are now a staple part of the advertising scene. Some of it is undoubtedly the success of such campaigns.
In 1991, a Diet Coke ad in which Elton John performed for the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Louis Armstrong was a huge hit, inspiring a sequel ad with Cary Grant and Groucho Marx and opening the floodgates for the reanimation of deceased stars in a whole raft of campaigns. Some have continued in this successful vein. Gene Kelly’s recent stint in a Volkswagen ad was massively popular and was the catalyst for a return to the charts for Singin’ in the Rain courtesy of the song's Mint Royale remix.
Others have used the trick with great impact – witness Bob Monkhouse’s effective return to our screens to promote awareness of prostate cancer. However, the legacy of such stars is not always handled with due respect - the vacuum cleaners weren’t the only thing that sucked about Fred Astaire’s shocking inclusion in Dirt Devil’s advertisement some years back.
So it is with heavy heart that I can reveal the latest reanimation of a silver screen legend, as James Dean appears in the new campaign from financial services company Allan Gray. Imagining what the tragic star could have achieved if he had survived his fatal car crash, it manages to be both ghoulish and poignant at the same time - a bit like the Casper the Friendly Ghost movie.