Subject: Frank Sinatra’s Lipton Brisk Iced Tea ad.
Synopsis: Dripping sweat after a swingin’ set, a stop-motion puppet of Sinatra swaggers backstage for a bracing iced tea.
Back Story: After Lipton got permission from daughter Tina Sinatra (and reportedly paid the singer a hefty $1 million), it hired puppeteers MacKinnon & Saunders to craft an 18-inch latex Chairman of the Board. The finished product — a Rat Pack-era Frank — was then voiced by Joe Piscopo. ”The copy was hysterical, stuff like ‘What’s with those lights? Who do you think I am, Peter Frampton?”’ recalls Piscopo, adding ”As Mr. Sinatra would say, ‘It’s a kookoo, groovy thing, baby.”’
Cultural Significance: This latest ad trend — one of the cleverest ways yet to shave the shill factor out of a celeb endorsement — won’t end with Ol’ Blue Eyes. ”We [want] celebrities who have the same sort of timeless coolness,” says Lipton general manager Jennifer Galichon, who does not rule out using dead stars. Could Sammy Davis Jr. soon be the next tapper in a teapot?