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Commercial Break: Dad and grad

July 25, 2012|By Roy Rivenburg

It isn’t easy being both funny and touching in 30 seconds, but Verizon Wireless pulls off the feat in its recent Father/Son commercial, in which subtitles translate the monosyllabic statements of a dad and grad.

Created by McGarryBowen, the ad opens with the men shopping for a Droid cellphone.

Dad: Congratulations. (Subtitle translation: I’m so sad you’re leaving.)

Son: Crazy, right? (Subtitle: Gonna be hard for me too.)

After a salesclerk chimes in, Dad grunts, "Hmm" (translation: "You make me so proud"), and Son responds, "Cool" (translation: "That means a lot"). The spot ends with the pair elbowing each other, a gesture rendered in subtitles as "Love you."

The mix of humor and heartstrings has struck a chord with viewers, says actor Assaf Cohen, who plays the store clerk. "I've gotten so much more attention for this commercial than any other TV gig or ad I've done," he says.

Ad trivia:

-- The spot is a sequel to Verizon’s less well-received Mother/Daughter spot, which initially had subtitles but later dropped them, seemingly undermining the concept.

-- The Verizon name tag worn by the salesclerk in the ad uses the actor's real first name, a trend Cohen has spotted in other recent commercials.

-- Cohen and the actor who plays the dad, Marlon Young, also had bit parts in HBO's "Entourage." The son is played by B.J. Mitchell.

-- The commercial was shot in multiple takes over 14 hours. The actors were encouraged to ad lib and, according to one report, Young cooked up the elbowing scene at the end, which was originally scripted as an awkward hug. A Verizon Wireless spokesman declined to comment for this article.

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