You might have noticed that actor Paul Marcarelli, who played a memorable role as Verizon’s “Test Man” for many years, has begun to star in commercials for Sprint, a rival telecommunications company. Why the switch? Some insight can be found in a 2011 profile of Marcarelli by Spencer Morgan in The Atlantic:

Among other things, his initial five-year contract had prohibited him from doing any other commercial work and stipulated that he not discuss any aspect of the Test Man campaign, including the particulars of his contract. (He is still reluctant to go into detail, since he remains under contract with the company.) A 2003 article in Ad Age—titled “Verizon Keeps ‘Test Man’ on Short Leash”—noted that the cellular firm “adamantly maintains … that the actor who plays [Test Man] should certainly not be ‘heard.’” (Indeed, Verizon had declined to verify Marcarelli’s identity even after Ad Age revealed it, in 2002.) The contract was amended in 2006 to include language articulating Marcarelli’s right to promote his own projects, but he still felt hemmed in by the need to protect the character—and with it, his income.

After nine years, Marcarelli was informed via email that Verizon was taking their advertising in a different direction, and Marcarelli was free to pursue other projects.

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