George W. Bush and the Trivago Guy: Separated at birth?

trivago guy

Can’t you see it? It’s right there — the patented “W” smirk…

Troy Patterson says it well in Slate:

Trivago, the Düsseldorf-based travel search engine, has a most peculiar on-air pitchman—a sallow avatar of middle-aged masculinity, a found object and a cult item, an accidental enigma.

Just look at this guy. The voice is deep with command, round with Shatnerian ham gravity, rich with a Peter Graves graininess. The eyes are beseeching but confidently steady. The clothes have been woken up in. The man is seedily creased, grayly stubbled, distractingly beltless. He may be looking for a hotel after coming home at 3 a.m. to find that his wife changed the locks. These unusual ads have been attracting baffled notice for a while, but now is the season for big travel-industry ad buys, and the Trivago pitchman is, unlike the blades of his rotary shaver, in heavy rotation.

Some viewers find his ubiquity annoying, while others fail to succumb to annoyance because they are entranced by his skeevy vibe. Who is he? Why should I trust his judgment? What is his profession? Record producer? Is his travel-planning wisdom born of bitter experience? Has he got any drugs? How did this oddity come to pass?…

Shatner, yes. Peter Graves, maybe — although neither of them ever displayed this level of seediness. He looks like a bank executive who’s been on a three-day bender.President Bush attends the ceremony to commemorate foreign policy achievements

What were the ad wizards at Trivago thinking when they picked this guy to be their official face?

But there was something that Troy Patterson didn’t pick up on, something that nagged at me through most of this ad. I sensed a presence, once I had not felt since…

Aha! Right at the end, I saw it. This guy stole that smirky half-smile from George W. Bush. This actor could not have tested well among Democrats, whose teeth are always set on edge by that smile…

9 thoughts on “George W. Bush and the Trivago Guy: Separated at birth?

  1. Doug Ross

    Every time I see this commercial on TV, I wonder how in the world THAT guy got the job. I’d have to defer to the ladies of the blog to understand if this guy is considered attractive. He ain’t Brad Pitt (be still my heart) or George Clooney.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, single women — the ones who supposedly vote overwhelmingly Democratic — couldn’t possibly like him after seeing that smirk, which I believe is the one factor that really turned Democrats off to W. (A lot of people misremember it as being about Iraq or some other point of policy. It wasn’t. From the day he entered office, there was a visceral, deeply emotional antipathy toward him, one that puzzled me at the time. I remember having several conversations with Mike Fitts about it before 9/11 — which gave him a brief respite from the hostility. Some of it was residual bitterness from the Long Count in Florida, but I think it was something basic and personal about HIM. And I think that particular expression — the smirk of a sort of pseudo-cowboy smart-aleck — had a lot to do with it.)

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    The Slate piece was well-written. This line particularly summed up the impression he projects: “He may be looking for a hotel after coming home at 3 a.m. to find that his wife changed the locks…”

    That’s exactly what he looks like….

    BUT, there’s a fly in the ointment, because the writer refers to him as “faintly sleazy old dude.”

    OLD? You’ve gotta be kidding. What is this Troy Patterson, about 12?

    I look at that guy and guess he’s 10-15 years younger than I am. And I’m right. Tim Williams is apparently 47.

    47 is YOUNG, people. Or it was when I was 47. When I was 47, I broke four ribs kick-boxing. Not because I was too old to be kickboxing, but because I couldn’t remember to keep my left elbow down to protect my ribs.

    Look… try to focus on the fact that I was kick-boxing, not the part about getting hurt doing it. That was my point: 47 is YOUNG!


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