For Visible, Schitt’s Creek Star Dan Levy Is Delightfully In on the Joke

In this ad, the brows have it

Schitt's Creek star Dan Levy works the money-makers. Visible

Scrolling through Twitter, there are plenty of forgettable ads. The “promoted” bug can be code for zipping by as one seeks wisdom (or an argument) from the masses. Then there’s an ad for Verizon’s budget cell phone service provider Visible featuring Dan Levy, one of the stars (and showrunner since season 2) of the classic comedy series Schitt’s Creek.

Seeing Levy alone and framed in the spot, the first thought is, “It’s Dan Levy. I’m sure whatever this is, it’s good.” Then, the camera starts panning in, and it’s time to then click on the sound to hear what Levy is saying. Then, once you’ve made it to the end, realizing that it’s an ad for Visible, you still feel a sense of satisfaction. Since you missed the first few seconds, you play it again. Then, you fully get the joke about one of Levy’s most visible (no pun intended) traits: his prominent eyebrows.

The beauty of the ad, created with the brand’s agency Madwell, is that it’s worth watching again and again. It’s a simple dish of levity and self-deprecation served up by one of the most talented and hottest stars at the moment (he was just named one of People Magazine’s sexiest men alive). And it’s all Levy, including coming up with the concept, something that he values working with the brand.

“I wanted it to be tongue-in-cheek, and a wink and nod to the standard [mobile phone] commercial,” said Levy. “It uses tropes of typical advertising [in the category], but flips it on its head.”

Leaning on his experience on the show, Levy, a four-category winner in the 2020 Emmy Awards, was intimately involved with every part of the process. From getting into the script’s finer details to overseeing edit, the goal was to ensure that the work had the right tone, felt real, and was a true reflection of Levy himself.

“It’s an all-in thing for me,” noted Levy. “They were very collaborative in executing the vision. I’ve almost been spoiled in the sense that I had so much control.”

According to Visible CMO Minjae Ormes, Levy’s hands-on approach was incredibly valuable. He showed the brand and agency his process, all the way down to some of the more subtle touches that accentuated the star’s personality.

“He showed us the ‘why’ behind the ‘what,’” said Ormes. “And he brought an openness that doesn’t typically exist on a commercial shoot.”

Working from a short list of mandatories (the elements needed in a script, like product attributes and brand value), Ormes pointed out that Levy’s way of articulating unlimited data seemingly separates the brand from the gaggle of offers in the market.

“There are only so many ways to talk about quality and pricing,” said Ormes. “Dan shows us who he is and how we wanted to write and we’re thrilled that he was willing to play with the concepts with us.”

Levy inherited his father Eugene’s eyebrows. That genetic trait has been called out and celebrated online during Schitt’s Creek’s phenomenal run. According to Levy, he acquiesced and leaned into the concept when he realized how much attention was being paid to them.

“If I had told my 16-year-old self—who was very awkward with the same eyebrows—that someday, those puppies would have been celebrated like this, it might have made things a little easier,” he said. “You know? If can put my brows to work, why not?”

Throughout his time working with Visible (he started working with the brand in March), Levy has valued not just the collaboration but the fact that the brand takes its role with consumers seriously without taking itself so seriously.

@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.