The original Most Interesting Man in the World is back in a cocktail bar surrounded by two fawning women. But this time he's sipping tequila, not a Mexican beer. Jonathan Goldsmith, who played the iconic Dos Equis character from 2006 until last year, is starring in a new video for Astral Tequila that borrows creative elements from the classic beer campaign.
"I told you, I don't always drink beer," he says in the video, referencing the Dos Equis line. Then he simply says, "Astral tequila." The scene is similar to the setting that ended many of the Dos Equis spots, in which he typically delivered his classic line -- "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis" -- from a cocktail table surrounded by women. In the tequila video, Latin acoustic guitar music plays in the background, just like the old beer ads, like this one:
The ad marks the beginning of a new partnership with the tequila brand, which is owned by Davos Brands, whose brands include Tyku Sake and Aviation American Gin. A spokeswoman described the video being released today as a "teaser" that will be posted on Astral's social channels and website. It marks Goldsmith's first alcohol endorsement since Dos Equis owner Heineken USA parted ways with him last year before swapping a younger actor into the role.
Advertisers own the characters they create. So in the case of Dos Equis, Heineken USA owns the Most Interesting Man. If an actor performs in character, then that would be infringing the rights of the advertiser. But actors are free to reference their old roles. So it's a fine line.
"Astral Tequila has obliged by all trademark legal requirements," the brand's spokeswoman stated when asked about the similarities with the Dos Equis campaign. A Heineken USA spokeswoman stated: "We thank Jonathan Goldsmith for his long-time contributions to the brand, and wish him the best in his next endeavors."
Ad Age showed the Astral video to Douglas Wood, senior partner at Reed Smith and general counsel to the Association of National Advertisers, for an opinion. He noted the similarities in the humor and setting to the Dos Equis spot. But he added: "That alone, however, is not likely to be actionable. While they arguably take some of the expression and trade off on some goodwill associated with the character in the context of the Dos Equis campaign, it's hard to see any damages or a taking that goes beyond fair use. While humor alone is not a defense, it's unlikely the lighthearted references to his old character rise to an actionable cause. That said, they are on a slippery slope and should be cautious of going too far."
In a press release touting the new Astral video, the brand stated: "We've always wondered what pop culture icon Jonathan Goldsmith really drinks. The answer is Astral Tequila."
But that was not always the case. In an interview with Ad Age in 2012, Goldsmith said when not drinking beer he prefers a martini or Scotch. Asked if he's had a change of heart, the Astral spokeswoman stated in an email that "he will have to answer that for you when he is available for interviews again. Although we can say that many scotch aficionados are swapping their scotch for high-end tequilas like Astral." Goldsmith was not available for an interview on Tuesday.
The actor, who was 77-years-old when he appeared in his last Dos Equis ad last year, has been making the most of his Dos Equis fame. He has a new memoir out called "Stay Interesting: I Don't Always Tell Stories About My Life, But When I Do, They're True and Amazing," that includes accounts of his romantic flings, including one with Tina Louise, who played Ginger on "Gilligan's Island," according to an account of the book in the New York Post. Politico Magazine recently published an excerpt from the book that describes how Goldsmith was invited to Barack Obama's 50th birthday party.
Last year he started endorsing Wi-Fi network brand Luma in an ad in which he played himself. That campaign is expected to continue.