My new Favre-orite commercials

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Chris Marroy learns "blocking" from Brett Favre.

Mad Genius, Inc.

Chris Marroy learns “blocking” from Brett Favre.

 

When Farm Bureau signed Brett Favre in 2015 to star in a “Faverates” TV advertising campaign, the search began for a real actor to play opposite of Favre in the series of 30-second ads.

And then 28-year-old Louisiana native Chris Marroy auditioned, and the search ended, promptly. Rob Bridges, chief creative officer and co-founder of Ridgeland-based Mad Genius, Inc., which produces the Farm Bureau advertising, explains.

“We were looking for a physical foil for Brett, who obviously is a tall and strapping guy,” Bridges says. “We wanted Brett, who is not an actor, to be the straight man, to play himself. And we wanted his foil to play off of him. We wanted someone a lot shorter and maybe a little rounder.”

“Perfect,” Marroy says. “That’s me: shorter and rounder.”

They got a lot more than shorter and rounder. Marroy, an award-winning comedic actor, simply kills the role, not only with his body language but with his facial expressions. Click here to see it all first-hand.

Rick Cleveland

Melanie Thortis

Rick Cleveland

The folks at Mad Genius and Farm Bureau may not have known just how perfect a Favre foil they were getting. Favre, after all, is one of the most productive quarterbacks in football history, reputed to be one of the toughest players if not the toughest player, in pro football history. Marroy? When he was growing up in Slidell, La., and the rest of the family was watching the NFL on Sundays, he was the kid in the next room watching Jim Carrey movies.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t like sports,” Marroy says. “I just wasn’t any good at it, any of it. T-Ball, Little League, peewee football, basketball. I was awful. No hand-eye coordination, at all.”

Says Favre, “I watched him when we shot the football field scenes. Let’s just say Chris is as far from being an athlete as you can possibly get.”

But, Favre says, “Chris is such a funny guy. Those faces he makes are classic. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him.”

Bridges, executive producer of the campaign, also talks about Marroy’s expressions.

“We call it having a plastic or elastic face,” Bridges says. “Chris communicates so much with his eyebrows.”

Marroy uses "elastic face."

Mad Genius, Inc.

Marroy uses “elastic face.”

Favre and Marroy have at least one thing in common: Both attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where Favre honed his quarterbacking skills and Marroy earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in performance. Marroy initially took his acting skills to New Orleans, where he won best actor in a comedic role in the 2014 Big Easy Theatre Awards. He also had done work in TV and film, as well as other commercial work.

Recently, he signed with one of the leading commercial agencies in Los Angeles and moved there, at least partly on the strength of his work in the Farm Bureau campaign.

“I’m really proud of the Farm Bureau ads,” Marroy says. “No doubt, they’ve been great for my career.”

Henry Hamill, Farm Bureau vice-president for sales, says the campaign has been successful in promoting the insurance company’s “brand.”

Mark Chmura and Antonio Freeman and Favre-mangled fingers.

Mad Genius, Inc.

Mark Chmura and Antonio Freeman and Favre-mangled fingers.

 

In one of the four commercials Favre’s former Green Bay teammates Mark Chmura and Antonio Freeman were brought in and the storyline is how Favre’s bullet-like passes have mangled their fingers, brilliantly displayed at a painstakingly staged autograph session. Marroy, of course, ends up with his hands in casts.

“We brought in a group of prosthetic experts from Austin, Texas, just to work on their fingers,” Bridges says. “We wanted it to be perfect.”

It pretty much was.

Meanwhile, Favre and Marroy, the two opposites, have become friends. They filmed the first two commercials in July of 2015, the last two in May of this year. The Farm Bureau contract runs for another two years, another four commercials.

“He’s really down to earth, and he’s comfortable in front of a camera,” Marroy says of Favre. “Brett’s really personable. Heck, from one year to the next, I couldn’t believe he remembered my name.”

Marroy says he’s just glad Favre never asked him who his favorite quarterback is. And who is that?

“Drew Brees.”

 

Brett Favre signs Chris Marroy's casts to end TV commercial

Mad Genius, Inc.

Brett Favre signs Chris Marroy’s casts to end TV commercial

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Rick Cleveland is Mississippi Today’s sports columnist. Read his previous columns and his Sports Daily blog.