Celebrity voices on GPS devices are one of the great delights of the modern age, and also one of the surest signs of the apocalypse. Having celebrities literally direct your every move is a painfully apt metaphor for pop culture in 2011. At the same time, the most popular voices are jackasses like David Hasselhoff and Gary Busey—people who inherently cannot be trusted, and whose "celebrity" is more about reality-show meltdowns and the drunken eating of cheeseburgers than talent. Thus, the celebrity-GPS market is mostly ironic, built around the lucrative subculture of self-hating D-listers, who are the ones who need the money in the first place.
The exception are movie and TV character voices—a popular market that TomTom has pioneered for some time. Fictional characters are more uncomplicated voices to have in your car—more purely lovable, even when they're idiots. TomTom hit the jackpot of animated characters back in 2009 with Homer Simpson, whose GPS directions include lines like, "Take the third right. We might find an ice cream truck! Mmm . . . ice cream." In 2010, TomTom added some iconic Star Wars characters, including Darth Vader, Yoda, and C-3PO. And now, it's signed up another beloved franchise, Sesame Street, with the voices of Bert and Ernie.
TomTom has also come up with an ingenious marketing gimmick for these voice packs—releasing mock behind-the-scenes videos from the characters' voiceover recording sessions. The Vader and Yoda videos were priceless. And now, Amsterdam agency Pool Worldwide has rolled out the Bert and Ernie spot below. Needless to say, the studio session with the two famously not-gay characters goes disastrously, and devolves into a lot of bickering and screaming long before they reach their destination.
Whether you'd actually buy the Sesame Street voice pack probably depends on whether you have kids—and even then, their banter might get old pretty quickly. But it could be worse. They could have gone with Elmo.
Agency: Pool Worldwide, Amsterdam
DP: Lance Kaplan
Producer: Jason Averett