Electronics companies love roping in celebrities to endorse their products and give them much-needed cachet in the marketplace. Getting a famous face to be seen with your device is a surefire way of building consumer confidence, and over the years we’ve seen many a Hollywood star awkwardly holding a TV, CD player or games console in exchange for a six-figure payment. It’s just the way things work.
However, Tom Hanks clearly never got the memo on this. In a clip from 2009 that has resurfaced online, the Forrest Gump and Toy Story star walks on stage to assist in Sony’s CES presentation. As you might expect, Hanks has a script that he’s supposed to stick to – but he doesn’t, and the results are incredibly amusing.
The clip runs for over 12 minutes and is worth watching, trust us. Hanks openly admits that he doesn’t use Sony products but spends the first portion of the speech trying to recall what Sony products he may have used in the past; his Sony story began when he bought an old TV from a girlfriend, apparently. He then reads the speech Sony has prepared for him, pointing out that he hadn’t seen it until that very moment. He also pokes fun at the fact that the word “Sony” comes up a lot in this pre-created speech.
Never missing a chance to point out that he is contractually obliged to be on stage, Hanks then gamely participates in a live demo of Sony’s (then) groundbreaking augmented reality glasses with Sony CEO Howard Stringer, who he mercilessly mocks throughout the rather clumsy demonstration.
It’s a timely reminder that when you see someone famous promoting an expensive product, they’re doing it because they’re getting paid. Few stars will have the courage to do what Hanks did back in 2009; he was still one of the world’s biggest movie actors at that time and presumably felt he had a little wiggle room when it came to approaching what was essentially a contract gig he had little real interest in.
While we’re sure Sony wasn’t totally pleased with the end result, what we got was one of the most honest presentations in tech history – and it also makes us love Tom Hanks even more than we already did.
Damien McFerran has been covering phones and mobile technology for well over a decade. An Android specialist, as well as an expert reviewer of phones, Damien is one of the best technology journalists working today. He is also editorial director over at the excellent Nintendo Life.