Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Verizon's "Can You Hear Me Now?" Guy Gives an Exit Interview

For nine years, Paul Marcarelli has been Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now Guy,” which is both a blessing and a curse: It’s steady work! But it’s also the same work.

Now Verizon says it is “taking its ads in a different direction,” says the Atlantic, which makes it a good time to read up on Marcarelli’s life story.

It’s a great piece, and you should definitely read the whole thing yourself, but here are a couple highlights:

  • Verizon’s official name for Marcarelli’s character is “Test Man.”
  • Marcarelli’s contract with Verizon required him to work “a couple hundred days a year” for the company.
  • The role is a very hard one to shake: “A few months ago, he attended his grandmother’s funeral. As her body was being lowered into the ground, he heard the hushed voice of a family friend: ‘Can you hear me now?’”

I’ve always been fascinated by people who become identified–publicly or not–with commercial characters. I even wrote about it years ago–remember the Taco Bell chihuahua?

Which reminds me: Still love to chat with Dan Bakkedahl, who continues to play “AT&T” in those anti-AT&T ads that T-Mobile is still (!) running. Dan, drop me a line when T-Mobile gives you the go-ahead!

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work