In the mid-’80s, advertising agencies that tried to bring funny spent most of their time fighting over light beer. Most campaigns were designed to teach us catchphrases and encouraged us to scream them at each other. Today, that comedy-trench fighting has shifted to insurance, and lately the spokespeople for that industry include geckos, cavemen and stacks of cash with eyeballs on them.
But recently, Old School Apiary pal Bob Wiltfong popped up on our computer and TV screens on behalf of Nationwide Insurance as The World’s Greatest Spokesperson in The World. And we couldn’t be more pleased. Wiltfong, who was one of the first NYC improv nerds to get booked as Daily Show correspondent, now lives in Chicago with his wife and three kids and is currently producing a one-man show, “The Manny Diaries,” which premieres next Sunday in Chicago (Tickets). The Apiary caught up with Wiltfong to talk about his new role.
What do you think of the “World’s Greatest Spokesperson” character? I know Nationwide designed this character to represent their “On Your Side” slogan. They want the guy to be laugh-out-loud funny so he can stand out and break through commercial clutter. But just as important, they need him to come across as a strong advocate who listens to customers and delivers what they need — before they ask.