TV spokesman’s switch gets bad reception

One need look no further than the 2016 presidential campaign to see that integrity and civilized behavior are endangered, if not already extinct. It takes a lot to shock us these days.

But it can still happen. For example, am I the only one who finds the Verizon guy’s defection to Sprint unseemly, or even repugnant?

For years, Verizon’s TV commercials featured a character, played by Paul Marcarelli, who was famous for the quote “Can you hear me now? Good.” But this year Marcarelli became the new spokesman for rival Sprint, where he disses Verizon in new ads, saying “Can you hear THAT?”

I’m not sure what the advertising folks at Sprint were thinking, but their decision to hire a cellular turncoat doesn’t make me more likely to use their services.

As for Marcarelli, I think he should at least do the honorable thing and return all the money Verizon paid him before he defected.

Could this be a trend? I would wager that advertising agencies all over the world are furiously renegotiating contracts with their spokespeople. And you can bet these new contracts will all include a clause forbidding a spokesperson from turning traitor and becoming a mouthpiece for the competition.

Marcarelli’s treason has opened a door that could lead to mayhem, and by mayhem I don’t mean the Allstate guy who seems to have a real death wish.

How are we consumers supposed to trust that a TV spokesperson is telling us the truth about product Z if we know that next year he could be telling us how inferior it is to product X? Just think of the implications had such betrayals been common in the past.

Imagine Mr. Whipple jumping ship from Charmin to Cottonelle. What if we saw a commercial where he said, “Squeeze the Charmin? I don’t care if you stomp on it. Try Cottonelle. Its softness is within 1 percent of Charmin’s.”

Yuck.

Or what if Madge the manicurist stopped pitching Palmolive dish detergent and signed on with Clorox bleach? “You’re soaking in it!”

OWWW!

Suppose the Aflac duck suddenly started squawking “Blue Cross Blue Shield, Blue Cross Blue Shield,” or the Doublemint Twins began pitching Hubba Bubba and seeing which one of them could blow the biggest bubble.

What kind of chaos hath Mr. Marcarelli created?

Remember those three Budweiser frogs who croaked “Bud … wei … ser?” Hilarious. They’ve been off the air for quite a while. Let’s hope they haven’t gotten any ideas from watching Sprint’s new commercials. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to see those frogs back on TV croaking “Mil … ler … Light.”

Would the Maytag repairman be less lonely if he suddenly became the LG repairman?

Tony the Tiger is a senior citizen. Let’s hope Kellogg’s takes good care of him. Imagine the big guy roaring that All-Bran is “GREAT!”

I think Paul Marcarelli has risked damaging his reputation by defecting from one cellular provider to another. But if they aren’t careful, certain advertising icons could risk a lot more than that if they decide to follow in his footsteps.

For example, what if the Chick-fil-A cows were lured away by the promise of big money from a competitor, say Burger King? Would their signs say, “Eat mor kows?” Ewww!

And just who will serve as spokesperson for Green Giant veggies if the green man himself starts shilling for Stokely? Sprout? Not without a major growth spurt he won’t.

If we don’t nip this in the bud before it becomes a real trend, who knows what havoc might be wreaked.

Mrs. Olsen selling Starbucks instead of Folgers? Jan hawking Hondas instead of Toyotas? Flo gushing about Geico while the Gecko pushes Progressive?

Who wants to live in a world like that? Not me!

Paul Marcarelli, can you hear THAT?

Doug Showalter can be reached at 379-5625 or dshowalter@therepublic.com.