When indie creative shop Jomo won the Bic Flex 5 men’s razors assignment in August, its leaders knew they had to find a unique voice that would showcase the product’s quality and value while setting the brand apart from its many competitors.
Jomo found that voice in J.B. Smoove, a.k.a. Jerry Angelo Brooks, the actor, writer and comedian most recognized for his recurring role as Leon on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. He now has a new role as the extra-smooth face of the Bic Flex 5.
In early 2018, the brand tapped Smoove for a series of radio and social media-focused efforts. The national campaign heard him asking, in his bold, familiar voice, why consumers would buy more-expensive razors over Bic Flex 5. He asks men “spending half [their] paychecks on razors: Why pay the difference if you can’t feel the difference?”
He’ll also promote the brand via his personal social media accounts throughout the year.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of celebrities,” said Jomo chief inspiration officer Jon Iafeliece. “You can be really surprised with what kind of attitude they come in with. J.B. was a prince. We were in the recording session for a full day and he was a real delight to work with. We would do a take and then he would say ‘Nah, I can do it better.’ We gave him the leeway to go off script and he came up with some brilliant improvisations.”
Adweek chatted with Smoove about his decision to work with Bic Flex 5 and what he hopes to accomplish as a brand spokesman. The actor, who once fancied himself an ad man, said he and Bic Flex are a match made in marketing heaven.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Adweek: Why did you agree to be the face of Bic Flex 5?
I’m a guy who loves a beautiful, clean-smooth shave; thus the name JB Smoove comes into play. I talk about cool products all the time. I assume a certain personality, a swagger. There’s a certain confidence in everything I do. This is a great time for J.B. Smoove to be a part of a big campaign. I always make a point to gravitate to things I use, and I am a fan of a clean shave. I like my face to be smooth but I also have very sensitive skin. On my head, I can only use clippers. On my face, I use a Bic Flex 5 disposable razor. You see my face and my mustache? I do it all with a steady hand. I cut my mustache very French.
I heard you spent seven hours recording the radio hits for this campaign. Can you describe the dedication you put behind this role?
I’m very dedicated to everything I do. My main thing is the client has got to get what they want out of me. I will stand there until you get what you need. And I love to improvise. You can’t capture things from just reading copy. It has to be genuine. It can’t come across like a newscaster just doing his job. You have to capture what makes the project amazing. I don’t do anything for a check. I’ve never been that type of guy. I want to make sure that not only the client looks great but I’m also satisfied with what I’ve delivered.
How do you bring that level of dedication to everything you do when you’re doing so much? (Alongside his standup and television career, Smoove has also appeared in recent films such as The Polka King (2017) and wrote a book through the eyes of his Curb Your Enthusiasm character titled Leon Black: The Philosophy of a Fool.)
I know it seems like I’m all over the place, but I always give 200 percent of my attention to one thing at a time. Of course I juggle between my TV, film, standup career, branding, this book, but it just has to fit under one umbrella. I’m going to be in a film coming out soon that was shot a year ago—the sequel to The Big Lebowski. (‘Going Places,’ a spinoff of the 1998 cult classic, is set to be released sometime this year.) We tackle these projects and then they kind of go away until someone calls and tells you, ‘Hey, this movie is coming out next month.’
What can we expect to see next from you?
We’re going to be filming the next season of Curb Your Enthusiasm sometime in the spring. I’m thinking about possibly doing a followup to my book. I’m working on my own clothing and accessories line, called the Jerry Angelo collection. My real name is Jerry Brooks, and Angelo is my middle name. Everyone always asks if I’m Italian when they hear my middle name. I say ‘Of course I have some Italiano in me.’ Jerry Angelo sounds very classy. And I’m a classy guy. It all ties in together.
In terms of your branding work, what do you think is lacking in advertising that you hope to bring to the industry?
I think what’s missing is this: When I was growing up, you had amazing spokespeople who did amazing campaigns that captured a time, captured a product. They captured the personality behind the brand and made it synonymous with the character. One of those being the Charmin guy; I loved him. (Actor Dick Wilson appeared in several commercials and sitcoms from the mid-1960s to the 1980s as Charmin Toilet Paper’s Mr Whipple.)
Everything is so social media driven now, it’s a little different than it used to be. But, I am the ultimate salesman. I can sell anything. Maybe because I grew up loving the show Bewitched and [idolized character Darrin, an advertising professional]. I studied graphic design and marketing and always wanted to be an adman. That carries over with what I do now. I make every character my own. Advertising needs more iconic characters to be able to do amazing events, ad weekends and reach consumers in all these cool new ways, [like] on social media. You have to take advantage of what’s given to you. People need to believe in you.