For an instant, it appears the critic whom contestants and viewers love to hate is actually intimidated. Sort of. When Simon agrees, Palminteri utters the soft drink's tagline: "Vanilla Coke, smooth and intriguing like we said."
The Martin Agency created the spot as well as a second, similar ad featuring hip-hop superstar Missy Elliott. In the latter which begins airing April 1 the diva asks if Palminteri expects her to write a rap song about Vanilla Coke. No, he tells her. She just has to help him pass out "bubblehead" Missy dolls sipping the soda.
The commercials are unconventional, marketers say, because they use intimidation not the wild taste of vanilla? as parody to get people to try the product.
Martin spokesman Dean Jarrett says it took a crew of about a dozen Martin Agency staff to create and execute the campaign. They're hoping Simon's "ascerbic wit" will appeal to audiences, he says, explaining that if there's anybody who can convince people to drink Vanilla Coke, it's Simon, "America's most renowned critic."
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