Snickering with Paul Henry
I read Paul Henry is to be the New Zealand face for Snickers.
My initial response was that this was not surprising since Paul has been snickering at his fellow man and woman for years. He’s mean. And that is apparently the very quality that the makers of Snickers want in their ads.
I say ‘apparently’ because, thanks to MySky, I don’t have to watch commercials and have never seen a Snickers ad. But I gather they feature some of the behavioural ill-effects that hunger for chocolate can have on human beings. Meanness, it seems, is one.
So Paul is going to play himself in the commercial. And he’s delighted:
“I’m excited to be involved in something which essentially just allows me to be myself. I’m glad to be able to show that meanness can be fun and celebratory, and despite the old adage that it’s difficult to do, meanness really does come easy.”
We never thought otherwise, Paul.
Other Snickers front-people have included Betty White, Joe Pesci, Aretha Franklin, Liza Minnelli and Joan Collins, and Paul regards his inclusion in this Hollywood A-list as “something of an honour”. I assume he means for him.
Not long after reading this story, I was rung by a representative of the Fourth Estate seeking my comments. Was this a good thing for Paul to do? Would it be good for Snickers?
My answer to both questions was yes. Paul’s notoriety would ensure that lots of people would watch the ad, which was good for Snickers; and Paul would make a heap of money, which was good for Paul.
The lady from the Fourth Estate reminded me that I had chastised Kevin Milne for doing an ad for carpet. Wasn’t I applying a double standard?
Well, not at all. Kevin had a reputation for integrity and goodness which he might be in danger of losing by selling his soul for commercial profit. Paul was in no such danger.
But I do have some qualms on his behalf. Things aren’t going too well for him at the moment. His Australian debut has been a debacle. The Aussies hate him. His ratings would be an embarrassment on Access Radio.
Unhappy on Would I Lie to You?
And then there are his appearances here at home as host of Would I Lie to You? Paul is unhappy that the team captains, Jesse Mulligan and Jon Bridges, have been getting more laughs than him. He’s complained that he needs better lines.
But the truth is that they are professional comics and he isn’t.
His delivery is the real problem. He looks uncomfortable and his discomfort shows. And discomfort, as some of Paul’s Breakfast victims could tell you, isn’t funny.
So will he be funny on the Snickers ad? Maybe. But Paul is an interviewer by trade and a bloody good one. And none of his predecessors are interviewers. They’re professional actors. Still, you never know.
Ready for his Close Up?
And there’s a far more serious question to be asked and answered.
What if all the scuttlebutt is true and lovely Mark Sainsbury really is for the chop and Paul, who wants nothing more, really is in line for the Close Up job? Just how will that fit with being the local Snickers barker?
Can you be funny Mr Mean (rhymes with Mr Bean) in the commercial breaks between being Mr Current Affairs on Close Up? You know, I’m not sure that you can.
Worth thinking about anyway, Paul.
Media trainer and commentator Dr Brian Edwards blogs at Brian Edwards Media.