Nine years ago, Dos Equis was an all but unknown brand. Then the Heineken-owned Mexican beer launched a suave, self-assured campaign with a spokesman possessing those qualities and more.
In 2007, Dos Equis introduced us to the “Most Interesting Man in the World.”
The persona was a straightforward, whimsical one: an older, Spanish-accented man who did it all, and did it better than anyone else. His gray hair distinguished him; his perpetually arched left eyebrow gave him an air of exquisite discernment.
“His presidential run will be a sprint. But he will be running.” “He’s won the same lifetime achievement award twice.” “He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels.”
Then came the tagline: “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.”
Sales soared alongside the Most Interesting Man in the World’s growing celebrity. Through the turbulent late aughts, he became a symbol of constancy — no matter how unstable the economy was or unfaithful Hollywood’s couples were, he was always there with a chilled lager and a bearded grin.
But nothing gold can stay, not even the face of the Most Interesting Man in the World.
Dos Equis announced in a series of ads Wednesday that Jonathan Goldsmith, the 77-year-old actor who has represented the brand since the start of its Most Interesting Man campaign, will no longer appear in their familiar commercials.
In classic Dos Equis fashion, this change was revealed in videos showing Goldsmith departing for a “one-way mission” to Mars.
“Get a last look at this brave pioneer who will not be returning,” the voice-over says as a line of fawning admirers in various cultural garbs wait to bid him farewell. “His only regret is not knowing what regret feels like.”
Away he goes, accompanied by a radiant lady astronaut. His rocket’s takeoff is watched by Dos Equis drinkers all over the world. As he blasts through the stratosphere, the silhouette of a wolf howls at the sky, and his blessing — “Stay thirsty, my friends” — echoes across Earth in his absence.
Andrew Katz, the brand’s vice president of marketing, said the actor would be replaced to reflect how society has transformed over the years.
“Culture has changed very dramatically,” Katz told USA Today. “Our Millennial drinker has changed quite dramatically, and the competition has only exploded with the advent of craft [beer]. We just want to make sure that the story evolves.”
The title of the Most Interesting Man will remain, but it will be given to someone else.
Far from suffering an identity crisis, Goldsmith seemed at peace with his ejection from the planet.
“I feel terrific, I really do. I’ve had a great time in the last 10 years,” he told the Associated Press, adding that the end of this role will allow him to consider other TV and ad opportunities.
While Dos Equis was nothing before Goldsmith, the same may be said of the actor before the brand.
Goldsmith grew up in the Bronx to a model mother and a track coach father, the New Yorker reported in 2011. He took an acting class alongside Dustin Hoffman and Robert Duvall, in which he told the former, “Dustin, the reason you don’t like me is because I’m gonna make it and you’re not.”
After moving to Los Angeles to try to make it, he worked as a garbage truck driver before finding a niche in small roles in western movies.
“It wasn’t easy,” Goldsmith told NPR. “Jewish boys that grow up in New York are not that adept at riding horses.”
He racked up a number of notable television credits, but he remained, as the New Yorker’s Nick Paumgarten put it, “‘that guy,’ very often the that guy who gets killed” on shows like “Charlie’s Angels,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “MacGyver” and “Hawaii Five-O.”
Dos Equis changed that. As the Most Interesting Man in the World, Goldsmith’s face achieved meme-like levels of recognition. It became a game to mimic his hyperbolic, yet understated turns of phrase.
“It’s overwhelming recognition,” Goldsmith told the AP. “I would be literally mobbed.”
The news that he will be leaving his signature role comes a few months after the Gold Levin Talent Agency, which previously represented him, filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Goldsmith last October.
The complaint alleges that the actor failed to pay his agent’s commission.
“There is nothing interesting about being a deadbeat or failing to pay those directly responsible for one’s career success,” the lawsuit reads, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “As it now turns out, had Goldsmith landed a role that more accurately portrayed his character, he would have landed the role of ‘The Least Honorable Man in the Entertainment Business.'”
Goldsmith’s wife, Barbara Goldsmith, previously worked for the agency. She was the one who landed him the Dos Equis gig.
Last month, Goldsmith launched a countersuit claiming that Gold Levin wrongfully disclosed the terms of a 2012 contract and calling one agent “a failed C-list actor who appears in ‘D’ movies.”
Dos Equis has not hinted at who Goldsmith’s replacement will be, as Katz told Fox News simply, “The essence of the brand is that you need to stay thirsty for life, whatever it is that you’re doing.”
Given the recent #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the company may want to avoid another white man with a fake accent.
Goldsmith told NPR that when he first arrived at his audition, the line to be considered was “out into the street” and filled with young Latino actors. Seeing them, Goldsmith decided to channel his friend Fernando Lamas, the late Argentine-born actor.
“So I thought about him and how funny he was and how charming and a great raconteur, so I put on my best Fernando imitation,” he said. “And they started laughing.”
But now Dos Equis is hoping to attract “younger drinkers” “who can better relate to a different Most Interesting Man in the World,” Katz told USA Today.
Goldsmith was in his late 60s when he auditioned for the role. Even then, his age gave the casting director, Joe Blake, pause.
According to NPR, Blake told Barbara that they loved his performance but felt they needed someone younger.
The original, now ex-Most Interesting Man in the World, recalled: “And in her infinite wisdom, [Barbara] took a long pause and she said, ‘Joe, how can the most interesting man in the world be young?'”
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