It Takes Guts: Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy Tackle 'Yucky' Subject in Ads

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Renew Life ad
Renew Life ad Credit: Renew Life

Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy are starring together. Not in a TV series, though Macy may soon get a role in a show his wife aims to bring to the small screen.

First, though, the Hollywood couple signed on to do a marketing campaign for the first time in years. Their endorsement of Renew Life, a line of probiotics sold by Clorox Co., was a natural fit, Huffman said in a phone interview.

After the couple's first daughter was born, a pediatrician spoke with her about gut health and flora, and how probiotics might help keep their immune systems healthier, she recalled. The doctor also suggested she eat fermented vegetables or eat "raw, organic, grass-fed yogurt," Huffman recalled, thinking at the time "'Who has time for that? I have a toddler.'"

Instead the family began taking probiotics and still does 15 years later, as long as Huffman, a star of shows including "Desperate Housewives" and movies such as "Transamerica," reminds them. When they forget to take them, inevitably someone gets sniffles, gets a cold or just feels out of sorts, she said.

When Renew Life reached out, the name sounded familiar. That's because it was the product Huffman had already been taking for two to three years. Huffman said she has tried different brands over the years. "I'm an encyclopedia about this stuff," she said.

Now, she serves as the spokesperson for Renew Life's "Being Human Takes Guts" campaign. The push kicked off with online videos voiced by Macy, in which he lists things that take guts, like saying who you voted for, getting married, and asking for a raise. Ads voiced by Huffman, centered on parenting and growing up, are set to debut in August.

This is Renew Life's first brand work from FCB Chicago, which became its agency of record in 2016, the same year the brand was acquired by Clorox. Online videos, print ads, and influencer promotion are included in the campaign, which appears set to be Renew Life's biggest push in its 20-year history.

Huffman said she wants to help people start talking about gut health, a topic that doesn't often come up for discussion in a positive way.

"Unfortunately, gut is such an unpleasant word. You don't go 'Yeah, let's talk about gut health,'" she said. "Maybe [the campaign] can make it not such a yucky subject."

Renew Life's supplements are sold in natural food stores and elsewhere. Probiotics are also found in fermented foods and yogurt, but for Huffman, those are less appealing.

William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman Got Milk ad
William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman Got Milk ad Credit: Getty

"I can't get into the fermented foods," she said. "I know we're all supposed to eat kimchi and stuff like that; I can't get into it."

Huffman and Macy will be heard, but not seen, in the Renew Life campaign. Six years ago, they appeared together in a "Got Milk?" ad.

"I am gunshy about us working together to help sell something," Huffman said.

But there's a good chance they'll be working together on another project. Huffman said she and a partner bought the rights to Hesh Kestin's book "The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats" and are looking for a writer to get it on TV. "I gave it to my husband and he went, 'Oh, I want to be in it,'" she said. "If you're sleeping with the boss, it does get you ahead."

Renew Life's other agencies include AKQA and OMD on media.

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