That “Hey, Marcel” AT&T Commercial

This is hilarious. And it’s even more interesting because I think Marcel would be a brother’s name, but it’s not a brother being pictured at the close.

The weather girl’s name is Andrea Bogart. According to Wikipedia, she plays Abby Haver, a stripper who befriends a regular on ABC’s afternoon soap, General Hospital. Ordinarily, Bogart gets guest shots on shows like CSI and Ghost Whisperer, but she is also known for starring in a scream teen exploitation flick called Dark Ride.

Here’s what You Tube has to say about the commercial:

With the My Multiview feature from AT&T U-verse, you can choose up to four channels and watch them at the same time on one screen. Programs no longer have to compete for your attention. In the latest U-verse TV spot, we see the benefit of the My Multiview feature. Throughout the spot, we see various TV scenes from recognizable genres in which the main character is trying to get the viewer’s attention by saying, “Hey Marcel, watch this.” At the end of the spot, the camera pans out to reveal a man watching TV in his living room using the My Multiview feature. In the network, there are no hard choices.

But who’s paying attention to the man in the 31-second spot? He’s got his back to us in the few last few seconds of the commercial, but it looks like a generic white guy with dark wavy hair. Or perhaps, bro is really a Latino. Because the name “Marcel” is hardly used at all these days, at least in the United States. Marcel is equated with a white-faced mime from France (who I got to see perform before he died, BTW). Or with an Italian actor, Marcello (pronounced Mar-CHELLO) Mastrioanni, who used to work a lot with Sophia Loren–another aging screen star from Old Hollywood. And once in a while, some sister may pick it up and name her son Marcel, or worse misspell the name. Marsell or Marcell, Mar’cel or Marshel.

Frankly, though, this commercial is a stroke of genius. Because that is exactly what these cable shows are trying to do–catch your attention and make you sit down and watch them. Basketball games, action shows, hip-hop music shows, and finally, a well-racked blondie doing the weather. Pay attention to me! And it’s all for you, or Marcel.  But  the advertiser of the show is the real winner.

~ by blksista on March 23, 2011.

17 Responses to “That “Hey, Marcel” AT&T Commercial”

  1. I love this!!!!My son’s name is Marcel 🙂 He is 11 and couldn’t wait for me to see this…Does this REALLY have any thing to do with race??? Its a commercial!!!!!!


    • All I meant to say is that Marcel as a name is a bit obscure these days, and that blacks (or other people of color like Latinos) or Italians for that matter may be more inclined to name their male children Marcel than others. That’s not race, that’s a fact.




    • Dear Black Girl from–ahem!–Canada:

      It’s not altogether clear what color or nationality the guy in the commercial is. At best, he could be light-skinned and not altogether white. I’m sure I’d like to think that he is black in actuality, but unless I read otherwise and post it here, I wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t presume.

      If you are truly a relative of this “Marcel”, I wouldn’t think that such a person would represent him in such a manner.

      Take good care, especially with your six-pack.


  3. My gosh, no wonder the world is so screwed up….its a freak commercial, people. This has nothing to do with being black (btw, I am a brutha) or while. It’s a TV commercial….plain and simple.

    It was a few weeks before I actually seen the commercial, but folks was stopping by my office saying, “hey Marcell!” and I responded with, “whats up!” until I seen the commercial. Now, the “hey Marcell” slogan is my mobile ringtone.


    • It’s not just a commercial. It’s entered popular use; it’s entertainment; and brother, every time that thing plays, I’m sure AT&T is raking in the bucks.

      What I was saying is that black moms (and dads) sometimes resurrect names from obscurity, like naming their boy child Marcel. You don’t hear much about the name any more, but I guarantee you, some people are going to name their kids Marcel after this.

      Sometimes people need a break from saving the world, if not their own homes and jobs. This is one of them.


  4. This video upset me quite a bit. My name is not Marcel, and for as long as the television and I have been communicating telepathically, It really should have learned my name by now.

    Either way, thanks for posting this. It really hit home.



  5. Being almost 50, white and having grown up in Georgia, I relate the name ‘Marcel’ most closely with Marcel Ledbetter, a character mentioned often by the great cornpone humorist Jerry Clower of Yazoo City, MS. Nothing sophisticated at all about the character, although Mr.Clower himself was brilliant in his way.


    • He influenced the likes of Jeff Foxworthy. I saw Foxworthy’s show a few times, and I liked it and the characters, though it was definitely slanted towards a particular population. I think my mother’s generation also has an appreciation of cornpone or hillbilly humor from old radio shows and early TV. But you’d never know it unless you specifically asked. It’s a kind of secret. 🙂


  6. My Haitian Dad’s middle name is Marcel, but he has always gone by that name since he came to the States. Mostly he used his first initial plus Marcel, but when he married his second wife, she started calling him by the English translation of his French name.

    I always crack up inside when I see that commercial.


  7. As a child I always hated the name Marcel because you could never find anything with your name on it.Also kids were really cruel about it.My father gave me that name as a way to honor a famous French boxer in the 50’s.To see it on a national campaign ad is surreal.It freaks you out at first because you think”Hey how did Big Bro. find me out”? I now can say I am somebody.I guess I shouldn’t have switched to T-Mobile.


    • You mean, Marcel Cerdan, who was once Edith Piaf’s lover. His character appeared in the film, La Vie en Rose, a film I own myself.

      Cerdan was French Algerian, too. What they call a pieds noir or “black foot.” Look it up.

      Looks like there may be more Marcels coming up the pike after this commercial. But you were somebody long before this ad came out, weren’t you?


  8. My husband, a French Canadian, named Marcel and a TV addict first saw this ad late at night and thought he was hallucinating. Even though Marcel is a rare name in the States it is quite common here in Canada. We realize that it was probably used to get the viewers attention, as it is not common, but wonder how they came up with it. Any ideas?


    • Hey there,

      I would say that French Canadiens would have to be exempt. Besides, I already said that after seeing Marcel Marceau some years before he died, and since I am from New Orleans that I could recognize the name. However, there are very few Marcels living here in the States, and knowing my own, there would be some blacks who would go for an old-fashioned name, a different name, and a name that would connect to the French. As in the emphasis on names with “elle” for girls, and “ele” or “el/l” for boys at the end. They’d rather make up a name with this at the end, even though the name may not appear among French gender names.

      Not criticizing, merely noting.

      I don’t know why or how they came up with the name Marcel to promote the ad. I usually try to find out about these things–you know, the story behind the commercial–and there really isn’t anything out there. At least, not yet. It could be that Marcel is the name of one of the writers or the producers of the ad.

      That must have been hilarious when the Marcels of Quebec or elsewhere in Canada suddenly felt as if they were being addressed.



  9. And I am not African American or male. I am a fair red headed female, named after my grandmother whose name was Helen Marcel. I do however know of African American men named Marchel, one was the sax player, Marchel Ivery. The first time I saw this commercial (and everytime since), it totally freaked me out, as I am frequently called Marcel by mistake. I thought it was some type of targeted ad campaign and they had mispelled my name! I am so relieved that I am 1) not losing my mind and 2) not being talked to directly by my TV!!! Oh and I have only seen this ad on Fox BTW…


  10. Interesting perspective. Since my name is actually Marcel, I would love to have been in the commercial. Your point is valid, because I get asked all the time how did my parents come up with Marcel since I’m African American.


    • It irritates me because it is so loud; but hey, it got my attention, so I guess it is a winner, and that is what it is all about.


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