Meet the stars from your favorite commercials
Love them or hate them, ads are ubiquitous in our modern society. Even if we try to avoid them, we can’t help but take notice from time to time. Some characters in these ads are so funny and memorable that it makes us want to keep up with the actors. How are the stars from your favorite commercials doing?
The ‘T-Mobile Girl’ – net worth: $3MM (Carly Foulkes)
Between 2010 and 2013, Carly Foulkes was the highly recognizable spokesperson of T-Mobile. Frequently appearing in pink or magenta summer dresses, she’d explain the benefits of the network over their competitors. Later, T-Mobile rebranded with an edgier ad campaign that showed Foulkes rejecting her signature dresses to don a black-and-pink leather racing outfit, and speeding away on a motorcycle.
To land the gig, Foulkes had to change her natural pronunciation of “mobile.” Aside from the T-Mobile commercials, Carly Foulkes has appeared in a few short films and modeling campaigns. She’s branched out into art photography and music as well, releasing a single last year. She doesn’t wear much pink anymore.
The ‘Pine-Sol Lady’ – net worth: $2.5MM (Diane Amos)
“Everything you need and nothing you don’t,” is the oft-delivered tagline of Pine-Sol, recited by comedian and actress Diane Amos. While she may be best known for singing the praises of the Clorox-owned household cleaning product, she’s had bit parts in quite a few television shows and films.
You may also recognize her from small parts in Patch Adams, Blue Jasmine, and Blunt Talk, but she’s yet to land a starring role outside of the commercials. Hopefully, we’ll see more of her as she’s clearly a talented comedian and actress.
The ‘ShamWow Guy’ – net worth: $2MM (Vince Offer)
For a short period of time — before a devastating fall from grace — Vince Offer was the undisputed king of the infomercial. He got his start pitching the “Slap Chop” and “ShamWow” at flea markets, before his Brooklyn accent and charm made him a viral star. Owning the products he sold gave him more artistic freedom in his selling approach.
Then a highly publicized brush with the law made it all come crashing down. Since then, he’s cleaned up his act and returned to infomercials, selling “The Schticky” and the “InVinceable” kitchen cleaner. “People understand you make mistakes in life,” he told NBC News. “Hopefully I won’t make another mistake.”
The ‘Allstate Guy’ – net worth: $20MM (Dennis Haysbert)
Dennis Haysbert is immediately recognizable for his soothing voice, which always asks if you’re in good hands. But odds are you know him from other roles as well — he played Pedro Cerrano, a Cuban-refugee-turned-baseball-star who turned to voodoo to help him hit curveballs, in Major League.
He’s also known for his role as David Palmer in the first five seasons of the popular Fox political action-thriller 24. Haysbert appears in a long list of hit films and television shows, like Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Kung Fu Panda 2, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Reverie.
‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ – net worth: $8MM (Jonathan Goldsmith)
He doesn’t always drink beer. But when he does, he prefers Dos Equis. “He is a man rich in stories and experiences, much the way the audience hopes to be in the future,” a representative for Dos Equis once said about the popular (and heavily meme-d) character.
Jonathan Goldsmith was the face and voice of the brand for many years — and he landed the gig by skillfully improvising for 30 minutes during the audition. He’s appeared in films from the 1960s through the ’80s, before taking a long hiatus. However, Goldsmith returned to the screen in 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again as Rafael Cienfuegos.
‘Flo from Progressive’ – net worth: $1MM (Stephanie Courtney)
Flo, the enthusiastic and quirky Progressive store employee, is one of the most recognizable mascots of any company. It’s rare to see a character from a commercial with their own fan base, but there are thousands of admirers of the iconic employee — try a Google Images search for “Flo cosplay” if you doubt it. But what about Stephanie Courtney, the actress who plays her?
Besides appearing in tons of ads and having her likeness plastered on billboards everywhere, Courtney has held roles in many television shows — like Marge in Mad Men, Essie Karp in The Goldbergs, and the bookstore manager on You’re the Worst. Ironically, she also had a recurring role on Cavemen — a show adapted from a commercial series made by one of Progressive’s top competitors, GEICO.
The ‘Pepsi Girl’ – net worth: $2MM (Hallie Eisenberg)
Remember this ad campaign? Most of them followed a similar premise — a young girl and an older family member would walk into a restaurant, sit at the bar, and order Pepsi. When the bartender tried to serve her Coke, she’d deliver an impassioned (and often threatening) speech until the drink was replaced with a Pepsi.
After appearing in a few movies like Paulie, How to Eat Fried Worms, and Holy Rollers, she quit acting to go to college. If she ever decides to return to acting, she’ll definitely have connections — her older brother is Jesse Eisenberg, who starred in The Social Network, Zombieland, and Now You See Me.
The FreeCreditScore.com band’s singer – net worth: $4MM (Eric Violette)
These funny commercials featured a singer and his band performing jingles in humorous settings brought on by the singer’s ignorance about his bad credit score. The singer was played by Eric Violette, a French-Canadian musician and actor. While Violette was clearly the star of the commercials, his thick accent forced the composer to have to overdub his vocals for U.S. audiences.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Violette described his character as “a guy who has a lot of dreams and hopes. But he’s not able to make them concrete because I think he’s a little bit lazy.” Luckily, that’s not the case for Violette himself — he’s the singer of a (real) rock band called God Against God, and cofounder of the app Finalee, which allows users to find local restaurants, entertainment, and accommodation “without the clutter” of Google and Yelp.
‘It’s Not Complicated’ man from AT&T – net worth: $4MM (Beck Bennett)
This series of commercials starred Beck Bennett as he conversed with a group of young students in a classroom. He’d demonstrate how even children were able to grasp how AT&T was the superior network, using basic analogies.
Since appearing in the hilarious ads, his career has been on an upward trajectory. He’s currently a cast member on Saturday Night Live, best known for his comedic impersonations of everyone from Bill Belichick to Elton John. He’s set to play Ted’s younger brother Deacon in the upcoming blockbuster comedy Bill & Ted Face the Music alongside Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves.
The ‘PC Guy’ from the ‘Get a Mac’ commercials – net worth: $3MM (John Hodgman)
If you watched TV between 2006 and 2009, you’ll remember a funny commercial series that featured conversations between a PC (John Hodgman) and a Mac (Justin Long). John Hodgman portrayed the PC as being stodgy, work-obsessed, and boring, while Long made the Mac seem hip, fun, and user-friendly.
We all know Justin Long from DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Jeepers Creepers, and Galaxy Quest, but what about the PC guy, John Hodgman? He was a frequent contributor on The Daily Show from 2006-2015 and had recurring roles on Bored to Death, Blunt Talk, and The Venture Bros.
The ‘GEICO Caveman’ – net worth: $1MM (John Lehr)
GEICO Insurance is responsible for some of the funniest and most memorable commercials in recent memory. The unique humor and quotable moments (“Hump Day!”), as well as the oddball characters at the forefront (like the nameless gecko) and, of course, the caveman who takes offense to the tagline, “So easy, a caveman could do it.”
There have been a few different actors that have played cave-people in the series of commercials, but John Lehr played the caveman more than any other actor. The commercials were so popular that a short-lived ABC sitcom revolving around the premise was developed. Lehr’s career appears to be taking off — he and Nancy Hower are cocreators, writers, and executive producers of The Loop, which is currently in development at HBO.
‘Mayhem’ from Allstate – net worth: $5MM (Dean Winters)
What’s with insurance companies and creative ads? Like their competitors, Allstate has created some hilarious and clever commercials — like the “Mayhem” campaign, where Dean Winters causes some sort of disaster and warns that a “cut-rate” insurance company won’t cover the costs incurred. “Get Allstate,” he says. “You can save money and be better protected from mayhem … like me.”
Winters has acted in many films and TV shows, with recurring roles in 30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Law and Order: SVU, as well as starring roles in Oz, Rescue Me, and Battle Creek. The actor nearly died after suffering a bacterial infection in 2009, which required him to have two toes and half a thumb amputated. Less than a year later, Tina Fey had him back to work on 30 Rock, and he landed the Allstate gig.
The ‘Red’ and ‘Yellow’ M&M’s – net worth: $35MM and $10MM (Billy West and J.K. Simmons)
Everybody knows the personified red and yellow M&M’s from the hilarious ads and, it turns out, everyone knows the voice actors as well. The red M&M is voiced by Billy West, who is one of the most famous and prolific voice actors in the industry, known for voicing both eponymous characters on The Ren & Stimpy Show for several seasons, and multiple characters on Futurama and Disenchantment.
J.K. Simmons is prolific and celebrated for his roles in both live-action and animated shows and films. In addition to voicing the yellow M&M, he’s played Mac MacGuff in Juno, J. Jonah Jameson in the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man Trilogy, and neo-Nazi Vernon Schillinger in the HBO series Oz.
Sidenote: The seductive green M&M is voiced by voice actresses Larissa Murray and Cree Summer.
‘Red’ from Wendy’s – net worth: $3MM (Morgan Smith)
The wisecracking Wendy’s Girl from Wendy’s restaurants’ “Now That’s Better” ad campaign is played by actress Morgan Smith. You may be surprised to learn that her signature red hair came from a bottle — she’s naturally a dark blonde.
Outside of her role as Red, Smith has appeared on a few different television shows, including a recurring role as Chief of Staff Candi Caruso on Veep. Look for her to make an appearance in the upcoming Netflix series Messiah.
The ‘Test Man’ for Verizon – net worth: $10MM (Paul Marcarelli)
For nine years, Paul Marcarelli was the spokesperson for Verizon Wireless, stating the benefits of Verizon’s superior coverage and demonstrating the effectiveness by asking someone on the phone if they could hear him in a variety of different locations. “Can you hear me now? Good,” he’d always say.
Then, in a stunning act of betrayal, he switched sides to Sprint in 2016! Many of the commercials refer to his switch to the more affordable carrier. In reality, his career as a Verizon spokesperson had been up for five years when he made the switch. In addition to phone commercials, his voice has appeared in ads for Comedy Central, United Airlines, and Aetna Insurance. An accomplished theater actor, Marcarelli is a founding member of New York’s award-winning Mobius Group Productions.
‘Orbit Gum Girl’ – net worth: $3MM (Vanessa Branch)
This “Fabulous” ad campaign featured a smiling British woman testing whether Orbit Gum was able to keep subjects’ mouths feeling clean in a variety of messy situations. At the end, she’d always deliver the tagline, “A good clean feeling, no matter what.” The woman was played by Vanessa Branch from 2001 to 2010.
Fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise may recognize her as Giselle, a blonde “wench” who seems determined to slap Jack Sparrow across the face in the first three films. She’s also appeared in episodes of Lost, Star Trek: Voyager, Criminal Minds, CSI: Miami, and Bones.
Ocean Spray farmers – net worth: unknown (Justin Hagan and Henry Strozier)
This probably won’t surprise you, but the two men standing knee-deep in the cranberry bog in this popular ad campaign aren’t actually cranberry growers. Though they play the part well, Justin Hagan and Henry Strozier are really just actors. The pool of cranberries, however, is real.
Hagan’s appeared in a number of films and television shows, including artsy films like Party Monster and Shortbus, and episodes of Madam Secretary, The Good Wife, Fringe, and Law & Order. Henry Strozier (the older farmer) has an even longer résumé, appearing in tons of television shows and video games, including Homicide: Life on the Street, L.A. Noire, Grand Theft Auto IV, Sex and the City, and Damages.
The ‘GEICO Gecko’ – net worth: $3MM (Jake Wood)
There have been a few different iterations of the gecko’s voice throughout the years — but the longest-lasting voice actor for the British lizard was Jake Wood. He’s best known for his role as Max Branning in the U.K. soap opera EastEnders.
Reportedly, Jake Wood quit the gig after 10 years following a pay dispute. The idea to create an animated commercial featuring a talking gecko stemmed from the Screen Actors Guild strike of 2000, when companies were prevented from using live actors in their commercials.
CoverGirl – net worth: $80MM (Christie Brinkley)
Christie Brinkley is a model, actress, activist, and entrepreneur who spent a quarter century as the face of CoverGirl. She’s recently returned to represent a new CoverGirl product — Advanced Radiance Age-Defying Liquid Makeup foundation. Fans of Parks and Recreation will remember the cameo she made as Jerry’s wife, Gayle Gergich.
Christie Brinkley has been married four times, once to Billy Joel, and most recently to architect Peter Halsey Cook — a marriage that ended in a highly publicized divorce. The supermodel has amassed an impressive net worth of $80 million over the course of her three-decade career.
The ‘Zoom-Zoom’ kid from Mazda – net worth: unknown (Micah Kanters)
In the early 2000s, you could only watch TV for so long before you’d have the Mazda jingle stuck in your head. In the commercial, a young boy whispered “zoom-zoom” into the camera before the catchy theme song kicked in.
That kid was Micah Kanters. If the name isn’t familiar to you, don’t worry — he quit acting a long time ago to study law. Seems like it paid off for him, as he’s currently working for a successful Maryland legal firm. His professional bio, however, makes no mention of his glamorous past.
The ‘LEGO Girl’ – net worth: unknown (Rachel Giordano)
LEGO made waves by marketing their products to any kids who wanted to play with them, regardless of gender. Perhaps the most famous campaign appeared in magazines in 1981, featuring a red-haired little girl grinning proudly while holding a LEGO house she’d built, with the words, “What it is is beautiful,” printed in large font.
The girl from the ads, Rachel Giordano, returned to pose with another creation in 2014 for The Mother-Daughter Book Club. Giordano owns two naturopathic medicine practices in Seattle. “Toys are supposed to foster creativity,” Giordano said in an interview. “But nowadays, it seems that a lot more toys already have messages built into them before a child even opens the pink or blue package.”
The ‘sexy’ and ‘smart’ side of GoDaddy – $25MM and $900,000 (Bar Refaeli and Jesse Heiman)
Lots of people admit to watching the Super Bowl just for the commercials. This advertisement from the 2013 Super Bowl was especially memorable — it featured a supermodel and a nerd engaging in a passionate 10-second French kiss. When it was revealed that the kiss took 45 takes, rumors spread that Jesse Heiman (the nerd) had been deliberately sabotaging the shots.
In reality, it was Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli who had been determined to get the kiss just right. Predictably, she’s been a bit more successful than her castmate, claiming the title of highest-paid model in Israel, according to Forbes in 2013. Heiman’s done well too, guest starring and appearing in many films and shows like Chuck, The Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, and The Social Network.
The ‘Aflac Duck’ – $6MM (Gilbert Gottfried)
This one might be a little obvious. Gilbert Gottfried’s shrill, obnoxious voice would be hard to mistake. Between 1999 and 2011, the Aflac duck was voiced by the notorious comedian. However, after making some insensitive jokes on Twitter following the Japanese earthquake disaster, the company severed ties.
Shortly after, Gottfried wrote an op-ed for CNN defending comedy as the “roommate” of tragedy, arguing that nothing should be off-limits when writing a joke. Oddly, Gottfried is equally celebrated for his roles in children’s films (like the voice of Iago from Aladdin) as he is for his raunchy jokes.
The original ‘Old Spice Guy’ – net worth: $5MM (Isaiah Amir Mustafa)
Everyone knows Terry Crews from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, White Chicks, and The Longest Yard, but what about the original “Man Your Man Could Smell Like”? Back in 2010, Isaiah Amir Mustafa made us laugh with hilarious monologues delivered as the scenery changed around him to demonstrate that “anything is possible” when you wear Old Spice.
Formerly a wide receiver who signed to multiple NFL teams’ practice squads, Mustafa left sports to pursue a career in acting. He’s acted in many TV shows, including a main role in Shadowhunters, and small parts in Ugly Betty, Charlie’s Angels, and NCIS: Los Angeles. Recently, he brought his talent to the big screen, playing Mike Hanlon in It Chapter Two.
‘Jake from State Farm’ – net worth: unknown (Jake Stone)
State Farm insurance couldn’t let themselves be outdone by the hilarious commercials of their competitors, so they turned to an unlikely place for the mascot of their new campaign — their own offices. That’s right, Jake from State Farm really was just Jake (Stone) from State Farm.
Stone auditioned for the part after his apartment mate and coworker convinced him to give it a shot. Ironically, Jake quit his part-time job at State Farm shortly after the commercial took off. His current employer, Pub II in Normal, Illinois, has his infamous khaki shorts framed in their bar, and patrons frequently pop in to take pictures with Jake.
The ‘Whassup?’ guys – net worth: unknown
It’s fair to say an ad campaign is massively successful when its slogan becomes a catchphrase, quoted and parodied for years to come. That’s exactly what happened with Budweiser’s “Whassup?” commercials — and for this we have Charles Stone III and his childhood friends to thank (or curse).
Charles Stone III is a film director, best known for his films Drumline, Paid in Full, and Uncle Drew. He was contacted by Anheuser-Busch after his short film True, which featured the catchphrase that gained popularity and acclaim. The commercial featured Stone’s friends Fred Thomas, Paul Williams, Terry Williams, Jimmy “Puerto Rock” Perez, and Scott Martin Brooks. Brooks went on to land roles in TV shows and feature films, as well as other commercials. He was partly responsible for another ad-slogan-turned-catchphrase when he delivered the line, “Are you gellin’?” in several Dr. Scholl’s commercials.
The ‘Crying Indian’ from Keep America Beautiful (Iron Eyes Cody)
Italian-American actor Iron Eyes Cody appeared in one of the most poignant, recognizable, and parodied public service announcement campaigns of all time. The ad featured the actor arriving to the shore on a canoe and witnessing a man litter from the window of a speeding car. A single tear rolls down his cheek with the tagline, “People start pollution. People can stop it.”
The unfortunately titled “Crying Indian” ad campaign first ran on Earth Day in 1971. By the time the commercial aired, Iron Eyes Cody had already been appearing in films and television shows for four decades, always portraying a Native American. He always claimed Native American heritage, though after his death it was revealed that both his parents were Sicilian.
‘Mrs. Fletcher’ from LifeCall (Edith Fore)
As far as company slogans go, few get right to the point the way, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” does. Edith Fore played the hapless “Mrs. Fletcher” in a famous 1989 commercial for LifeCall — a medical alert system marketed to seniors.
The iconic line was actually created by Fore, who first delivered the line during a real emergency. After LifeCall caught wind of the incident, they decided to use her in the advertisement campaign. Sadly, Edith Fore passed away in 1997.
‘Jan’ the Toyota receptionist – net worth: $1MM (Laurel Coppock)
This receptionist with just the right balance of sass and helpfulness is the heart of one of Toyota’s most memorable ad campaigns. Jan always seems to have the right answer for any concerns customers may have. But who is the actress who brings the character to life?
Laurel Coppock is an actress and sketch comedian who has appeared in several movies and popular TV shows. You may recognize her from episodes of Arrested Development, The Office, and 2 Broke Girls.
‘Lily from AT&T’ – $3MM (Milana Vayntrub)
Milana Vayntrub played Lily, the helpful sales associate who dealt with a cast of awkward, skeptical, and downright strange customers in a number of AT&T commercials. Vayntrub and her family first arrived in the United States as refugees fleeing political turmoil in Soviet Uzbekistan in 1989.
The actress has recently appeared in several popular television shows, including This Is Us, House of Lies, and Love. She’s also a writer and voice actor in the raunchy Adult Swim sketch comedy program Robot Chicken, and is the voice of Squirrel Girl in the new animated Marvel short-film franchise, Marvel Rising.