What it’s like to be the face of a company

Depressing look at the actors who became stars as the face of a company. Smiling Bob seems to be doing OK. Dude you got a Dell, not so much. Joe Isuzu took it pretty hard.

Playing Joe Isuzu was one of the greatest experiences of Leisure’s professional life. Letting the character go was devastating. In 1990, after four years in the part, Leisure picked up his mail one day and found a letter from the company. At the time, he was in negotiations to extend his contract for another year. His services, he read, were no longer needed. “It was chilling,” he says.

He grabbed a bottle of vodka. “Every half hour, I’d take another swig of vodka and read the letter again,” says Leisure. “Really? A letter? I was horribly upset. I’m only human. I was the personification of this vehicle. I could not shed that. I knew I’d be saddled with that for the rest of my life.”

Successful brand actors tend to rave about their time playing the face of a brand. Letting go is another story. For most artists, achieving a huge commercial success, be it a hit song or movie or novel, guarantees another shot at stardom; the opposite is true for most brand actors. Once you’re the face of one major product, no other major product wants you.

What it’s like to be the face of a company

Olive Garden Italian cooking school not be what it claims?

I don’t want to shock anyone, but we may have been mislead. I think I saw the Olive Garden commercial touting their cooking school about 15 times before the message internalized and I realized that Olive Garden was talking about a cooking school to which they send their chefs and managers. I don’t know if any of you have been to an Olive Garden lately, but I think they need to take a look at the curriculum. Turns out the school is more of a vacation, then educational facility.

I was a manager at Olive Garden and was sent to their culinary institute in Tuscany back in 2007. It was more like a hotel, during the off-season, with restaurant on site. They would let the Olive Garden come and stay in all the rooms and they would use the restaurant as a classroom for maybe an hour here or there and talk about spices or fresh produce for a minute before going site seeing all day. The only time we saw the “chef” was when she made a bolognese sauce while taking pictures with each of us to send to our local newspapers. Basically, yes, they send people to Italy every year. As a manager I still got paid my salary and didn’t have to use vacation time, it counted as “work”. They paid for everything from meals, sightseeing, flight, everything except souvenirs. But in return, they sent pre-written articles to out local newspaper with fake quotes from me and a group photo. Also every year when they would run the promotion, I was supposed to wear a special “chef” coat and make conversation with guests who ordered the promotional meals.

Olive Garden Italian cooking school not be what it claims?