Now that Hollywood’s actors have joined screenwriters in a dual strike seeking higher pay, restructuring of residuals and prohibitions on AI, brand-side clients have questions about how talent partnerships with brands and commercial work may be impacted. Not only are actors permitted to work in commercials during the strike, but this is a great time for brands to work with actors.
Here are six things to keep in mind should brands choose to move forward with commercial productions.
The SAG-AFTRA Commercials Contract has not expired. It is separate from the TV/Theatrical/Streaming contract currently being negotiated, so brands need not worry about undermining the actors in their collective bargaining efforts. SAG talent can continue to participate in commercial work during the strike, and there will be no union pressure on actors to abstain from participating. Furthermore, brands producing commercials with SAG talent will be making contributions on the talent’s behalf to the union’s P&H Fund, which provides health and retirement benefits to its members.
In the short term, we expect to see an uptick in interest from actors regarding brand collaborations, due to suddenly freed-up schedules and the desire for income at a time when TV/Theatrical/Streaming projects are at a standstill. Along with stepping away from all such productions, actors will not be permitted to take part in promotional work of any kind to promote TV/Theatrical/Streaming projects; this includes press tours, personal appearances, interviews, film and television festivals, premieres/screening and award shows.
Actors will, however, be able to participate in PR activities to promote brand partnerships, provided there is no cross-reference to past, present or future studio projects. We are working closely with talent publicists to ensure that media objectives for brand promotion are respectful of the strike restrictions.
This will entail finding non-work-related topics for talent to add to the discussion while promoting the brand partnership in an authentic manner. Charity work? That skincare line side hustle? A new passion for pickleball? Get ready to hear more about what these stars are doing in their spare time. Media has so far been very receptive to creative alternatives as producers will likely want to continue securing and featuring celebrity interviews and content, given their audience appeal.
Talent’s social media posts for brands will not be impacted by the strike. Talent can continue to create content and post about brands provided there is no cross-reference to TV/Theatrical/Streaming work. A lack of newly scripted network TV content for the fall, plus the ongoing absence of the late-night shows, may drive more audiences to places like TikTok, Instagram and Threads, which makes brand promotion on these social platforms a strategic place to be.