A voiceover dream. An improv genius. And an all-around kind guy.
Robin Williams was not only an accomplished comedian and actor, but an amazing advertising talent as well. Although I never worked with him personally, I can imagine that shoots with Mr. Williams were filled with non-stop laughing and multiple tape changes from all the great takes.
Here are some of Robin’s most memorable spots:
One of his most recent spots was for Apple iPad Air. The ads feature Williams reciting his stirring monologue on the meaning of life from the 1989 film, “Dead Poets Society.” Most people remember Robin for his comedy, but he was also a gifted dramatic actor who could take a monologue about the meaning of life and make it his own. His voice was haunting and emotional and can still give an audience goose bumps. An advertiser can struggle to find the right “voice” for their brand, but I’m sure Apple didn’t have any trouble deciding on Robin.
Another recent ad was Williams’ spot for Snickers. He played the loopy version of the hungry coach with great improv lines like “I want you to go out there and look for anything with an O.” This ad put Robin right in his element with the comedy that everyone loved about him. The ability to span ten different voices and impressions in a thirty second commercial is an agency dream. It’s not often you have talent where you can just say, “go” and they can create magic. But Robin was that kind of talent.
One of his longest running campaigns, and probably one that was closest to his heart, were his commercials for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Williams was one of their celebrity spokespeople and family after family has spoken out about his kindness and generosity with the kids. It must have been a relief to the hospital knowing that they could bring in a celebrity who could put the children at ease and make them laugh during such a difficult time in their lives.
As human beings, there are so many lessons about kindness, generosity and humility that we can learn from Robin Williams, but as a copywriter there’s so much I can learn from his delivery, his spontaneity and his laugh until you snort sense of humor. He said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” And his words have absolutely changed mine.