It may not quite live up to his Oscar-nominated role in "The Buddy Holly Story," but Gary Busey certainly made an impression on Jim Hughes in a new television ad for Unity Bank.

After all, Busey was portraying Hughes, Unity's CEO.

"He's a colorful character," Hughes said in an interview. "He's as interesting off-screen as on-screen. What you see is what you get. It was an interesting experience."

During the spot, Busey sits in Hughes' desk chair in his office, answering phone calls with a stapler, approving loans for spaceships, ignoring advice from Hughes on how to be a banker, and mumbling other gibberish before being called away for pizza in the lunchroom.

"Who's zanier than Gary Busey?" Hughes said.

It's not the first go-round for the $1.1 billion-asset Unity with a comic actor. The Clinton, N.J., bank ran a commercial last year featuring Joe Piscopo, a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member. As with the Busey ad, Piscopo impersonated Hughes at his desk.

Hughes wanted the Busey commercial to reflect the light-heartedness of Unity Bank, since banking is an industry that's often characterized as conservative.

"We want to brand ourselves like we're not a stuffy community bank, that we're run by real people," Hughes said. "We like to make people laugh and just be accessible to our customer base."

The ads give Unity an opportunity "to make fun of ourselves," Hughes said, and show clients "have access to decision makers."

The Piscopo ad last year was favorably received and Hughes decided to begin a series of ads. The recurring theme will show actors who normally wouldn't be cast in the role of a bank CEO. Other actors that Hughes has in mind: William Shatner and Michael Richards, who played the role of Kramer in "Seinfeld."

Then again, the guest star doesn't necessarily have to be an actor, Hughes said. It could be someone with a high level of name recognition. Like Willie Nelson.

"When you see a commercial like that, it's a memorable one," Hughes said. "We don't want to have a stuffy one, we just want to get our name brand out there into our marketplace."

 

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