While the actor liked the unexpected attention, there was just one problem: At the time of this discovery, he wasn't being paid for the airing of the spot in the store.
Today, he and other actors have been compensated, with a major agreement reached between the Screen Actors Guild and Coca-Cola Co., believed to be one of the largest-ever residual discoveries by the union.
So far, according to executives close to the companies, close to $500,000 has been paid by the soft-drink marketer to hundreds of guild performers for 50 historical commercials that date back to the 1950s.
The deal was finalized in June.
MORE OUT-OF-HOME OPTIONS
For SAG, tracking down residual payments for guild members always has been one of its major functions. But now, with a growing number of out-of-home venues -- such as airports, doctors' offices and retail food courts -- showing commercials, SAG's job has become that much more difficult.
"There is a concern people are not getting their money," said Susan Rose, executive administrator-commercial contracts for SAG. "The problem is, without monitoring, most performers have a feeling that commercials are running somewhere and they are not being paid."
The discovery by the actor in New York of his unpaid work led the guild to the beverage marketer's other memorabilia merchandise/tourist store in its hometown of Atlanta, as well as to a Coca-Cola museum in Las Vegas. Those locations also were running old Coke commercials.
Ms. Rose said she has no idea how many other consumer-product marketers are doing the same thing -- nor how many performers are not being paid for use of their work in this way.
She said this kind of recycling will be a major issue for the guild when its