When he was a kid, classmates made jokes about his name calling him “donut.” So, getting an invitation to audition for a commercial because of his first name was a pleasant surprise.
“Someone I know contacted me on Facebook and said he had a friend looking for guys named Duncan for a TV commercial. I wondered, ‘What could that possibly be for?” said Duncan Wallace.
Duncan Libby got an unusual email too. A former co-worker asked him if he’d be willing to come to a casting call for a commercial. She couldn’t tell him anything except that the company behind the commercial was looking for “regular people who do work in the community.”
“I thought it was hilarious because it’s so far outside the norm,” Libby said.
Several weeks later, Wallace and Libby had make-up artists and cameras in their faces as they tried to “act and talk naturally” during a commercial shoot.
“Hi, I’m Duncan and I love Seattle’s Best Coffee® new House Blend,” said Libby, who is a fundraiser for a non-profit public hospital.
“Hey, I’m Duncan too and I also love Seattle’s Best Coffee®,” said Wallace, with an architectural firm that does retail design.
They were joined by three other Duncans – a software designer, wind tunnel operator and handyman – for a lighthearted online commercial that declares, “Yes America, even Duncan loves the taste of Seattle’s Best Coffee®.”
The ad, which appeared before a fast-food chain launched a similar commercial, is part of a campaign that found people preferred the new House Blend from Seattle’s Best Coffee over a competitor’s original blend coffee. “Born in Seattle” House Blend is a smooth, medium-roast coffee that Seattle's Best has been known for since its inception in 1970.
The men really do love Seattle’s Best Coffee and they really are named Duncan.
Enjoying the coffee and having the right name were the easy parts of the commercial shoot. Remembering what to say was the tricky part for the Duncans.
“I finally said my line correctly and took a sip of coffee the way I was supposed to,” recalled Wallace, who has no acting background. “I said to myself, ‘I think I nailed that one.’ The director said that’s a good sip, but maybe next time you can smile. I was concentrating so hard I was robotic.”
Duncan Libby has plenty of experience speaking to large groups and individuals for his work with the fundraising division of a public hospital, but talking in front of a film crew was “completely new and different.”
“They were very gracious with the amateur hour they had on their hands,” he said. “You can’t act normal when someone tells you to because you’re self-conscious. It was like taking wedding pictures over and over again.”
Both men, who were paid to participate in the ad, think there is a lesson for all of us in stepping out of comfort zones, as they did with the Seattle’s Best Coffee commercial.
“I didn’t want to do this at first because I didn’t really have time for it, but my fiancé was very supportive and said, ‘Are you kidding me, you can’t let this go. This is not something that happens to most people.’ I’m really glad I did. It was fun.”
Neither plan to quit their day jobs to pursue a new career in commercials.
“I’m open to it if the calls start coming in,” Wallace said with a chuckle, “but I somewhat doubt that’ll happen.”