Earlier this year, mens big and tall retailer, Destination XL premiered a commercial that featured men of a variety of sizes in various states of undress roaming a wasteland looking for clothes that fit. Toward the end of the spot, an actor is shown wearing nothing but gloves, with his naughty bits pixelized out. The man exclaims “Finally, something in my size!” The commercial generated buzz and a bit of controversy, as ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox declined to run it, while 12 cable networks opted to run a version of the ad with the actor wearing underwear. Five cable networks chose to air the original commercial.
Derick Alexander is one of the actors in the Destination XL ad. He’s acted in TV shows and films such as Castaway, Dreamgirls, Parenthood, Wilfred, and The X-Files, as well as dozens of commercials over the past 20 plus years. We talked to Derick about his experience on the set of the DXL commercial, and whether he thinks that ad is getting a fair shake from the TV networks.
When did you get into acting?
I started acting in 1989 or 90 in the bay area. I did a commercial for Dominos Pizza, and then I did a Sunkist commercial, 2 or 3 months later. I got the check for that and I thought, “yeah, this is for me.” [laughs]
Was this something you were doing full time at this point?
I was working in a grocery store, and then got the opportunity to do Final Analysis with Richard Gere, and I went to L.A. about a year after that. Since then, I was in Castaway, Dreamgirls, and The X Show on FX, as well as about 3 dozen commercials over the last 23 years.
How did you get the part in the Destination XL spot?
It was a commercial audition. I was submitted and then went in for it.
How long did it take to film the whole thing?
The spot took one day, and wardrobe took a couple of days – from 8am to 10 at night. Most of what you see was green screen.
Did you think at the time you were filming it that the ad would stir up any controversy or cause conversation?
It was a great idea and it kind of hit home. I thought about it when filming – man, this is going to be interesting.
Do you think the networks that turned down the ad were justified when this same blurring technique is being used on shows like The Office?
I can see both sides of it. I’ve seen the ad on a few different channels, both the edited and unedited version, and I think the edited version is perfectly fine. As long as it’s [the unedited version] shown at the right time, it’s okay.
What’s next for you?
Just auditioning – going for the next commercial, TV show, or film. It’s the off season now, but it’ll be picking up again soon.
[box type=”note” border=”full” icon=”none”]What do you think? Should the ad have been approved by all broadcast networks, or were they right to decline to show it? Speak your mind in the comments below, or visit our Facebook page. [/box]