I’ve been operating under the perhaps mistaken impression that at some point in the last decade the ad industry came to a collective decision that it would no longer use dead celebrities in TV commercials. (Soundtracks featuring vocals of dead celebrities aside.) Then I saw this Applebee’s commercial (click on "watch TV spot") yesterday which uses Sammy Davis Jr., or an amazing facsimile, in an attempt to transform the restaurant into—I think—a Las Vegas hipster steak joint. (Sure, the Rat Pack would definitely hang at Applebee’s if its members were alive today.) As in those long-ago Diet Coke ads, which are the most famous of the dead celebrities genre, the dead celebrity is incorporated, in black-and-white, into the action as though he were still alive! To what effect, it’s hard to say.
—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor