Michael C. Hall on Singing Songs Like ‘Advertising Ruins Everything’ for Skittles’ Super Bowl Musical

'It’s self-referential in its core'

Michael C. Hall will star in Skittles' upcoming Broadway musical.
Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Skittles and creative shop DDB have released the first track from Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical, an aptly titled song “Advertising Ruins Everything.” Additionally, Skittles has put other tracks like “This Might Have Been a Bad Idea” and “This Definitely Was a Bad Idea” on Spotify. You can listen to them here.

To get a better idea of what this meta-musical might be like, Adweek caught up with star Michael C. Hall, who is best known for roles like Dexter and David Fisher from Six Feet Under.

Adweek: Why did you agree to do a Broadway musical for Skittles?
Michael C. Hall: I guess my initial in was Will Eno, who’s the writer on this. He’s someone I’ve worked with, a playwright who put up productions—one on Broadway, one off-Broadway here in New York—and some other things here and there. He was on board, so I was intrigued that he was involved, and then once I encountered the broader idea and the broader material of it, I found it to be so singularly unique. As a performer, I found it exciting for that reason and also scary. The notion of mounting an actual, not pretend, … real Broadway musical in this amount of time, it was too intriguing and scary to pass up.

As someone who doesn’t really do advertising, singing about how “Advertising Ruins Everything,” you’re clearly setting yourself up for many brand deals in the future.
That’s a big part of the appeal as far as the material itself goes. I’ve always admired how Skittles has approached advertising with different things I’ve seen in the past, and I appreciated that this was taking it to an even more singular place. The chance to do an ad while you express your ambivalence about doing ads and singing about how terrible advertising is generally is a pretty delicious juxtaposition.

How much time is there that you’re actually doing this?
I’m actually in a break right now as I talk to you. We’re working pretty much nonstop to get it all together and have been for a good number of days now. A good amount of time but nothing in comparison to the amount of time you’d have normally. Everybody is scarily focused, open to collaborate and roll with changes as they come up. It’s for real, so we’ve gotta get it together.

Is that part of the appeal at all, the challenge of it?
Oh yeah, it’s as close to daredevilry as I get, doing something like this.

This gives theater fans something special on Super Bowl Sunday, which is unique.
There are all kinds of waves crashing into each other with this, and again, that’s part of the fun about it. Maybe Broadway is a place where advertising doesn’t have as much of a presence … you don’t see a lot of product placement in Broadway shows the way that you see in other [mediums]. They don’t stop at intermission and try to sell you stuff—at least not in the theater itself, maybe in the lobby. The advertisement and the entertainment [with this] are one and the same. They’re fused, and everything is sent up. The phenomenon of musical theater is sent up. The phenomenon of advertising sent up. I’m sent up. It’s very meta. Everything is commenting on itself in a way that’s very well-done and satisfying.

Can you tell us any creative details about what you’re doing or how long it’ll be? Anything like that?
It’s quite a bit shorter than your standard Broadway musical, but quite a bit longer than your standard 30-second spot. It’s self-referential in its core. It’s poking fun at the very fact that we’re doing what we’re doing. As a performer, I am in no way required to set aside any misgivings I have about the fact that I’m doing it as I’m doing it. The material allows for that. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s definitely singular. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done. The fact that it’s an ad for Skittles is a fact, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an opportunity for me as a performer that’s totally unique.

There’s a weird Adweek connection to Six Feet Under that I’m not sure if you know about. Alan Ball, years ago, used to design pages for Mediaweek, one of the magazines that were folded into Adweek.
Oh wow! Cool! Small world. I love him, and I owe him a great deal. If it wasn’t for Alan Ball, I probably wouldn’t be doing Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical.

@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: January 28, 2019 https://dev.adweek.com/brand-marketing/michael-c-hall-on-singing-songs-like-advertising-ruins-everything-for-skittles-super-bowl-musical/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT