George Clooney has never hid his side gig as a coffee pitchman overseas. But U.S. fans who haven’t yet seen him hawk the single-serve brand Nespresso will soon have Clooney grace their television screens, alongside his friend Danny DeVito. Bloomberg reported that the move is intended to help Nespresso get a bite out of the coffee pod market in the U.S., where brands that make larger portion sizes now dominate.
Getting Clooney’s face on U.S. television screens wasn’t without some negotiations, as Bloomberg reported talks began in January for the actor to extend his advertising contract to include North America. He also appears in ads for watch maker Omega.
Clooney said in a statement, excerpted in People, that his deal with Nespresso conforms to his ethical concerns and political activism. He cited the company’s commitment to the environment and to the coffee growers who live in South Sudan.
“I’ve been working with Nespresso internationally for nine years and I really love and respect the brand, what they do, and how they do it. [We] have a shared commitment to sustainability, most recently helping to rebuild coffee farms in South Sudan.”
Clooney’s political activism is well known, particularly when it comes to Sudan. He was arrested outside the Sudanese embassy in March of 2012 in order to bring attention to human rights abuses in the region, as The Guardian reported at the time. Clooney’s father, former journalist Nick Clooney, was also arrested, along with activist Martin Luther King III, comedian Dick Gregory, member of Congress Jim Moran, and NAACP president Ben Jealous.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after a 21-year civil war. Bloomberg reported earlier this fall on Nespresso’s plan to sell coffee from South Sudan in an effort to rebuild the industry there. Nespresso has partnered with non-profit organization TechnoServe to train farmers and is fully funding the project. Clooney told Bloomberg he’s pleased with the success of the effort thus far.
“Coffee farms have a great history of building peaceful pockets in very volatile areas. We drank our first cup this summer and it tasted just a little bit better knowing that it was from people who have worked so hard for normalcy and peace.”
To hear Clooney tell it, his Nespresso contract has also benefited his movie-making, although in an unexpected way. In a 2012 Newsweek roundtable, the actor said he doesn’t have to earn most of his income from movies, since he can make money doing commercials. Thus he’s able to bring star power to small films which otherwise might not be produced. At the time, Clooney was up for an Academy Award for his role in The Descendants, which had a $20 million budget.
“I’m trying to make movies in my life, and particularly in the position I’m in, that last longer than opening weekend. That’s it, that’s my whole goal. I don’t have to make money, I do films for scale and then you know, I go do coffee commercials overseas and I make a lot of money doing those, so I get to live in a nice house.
“And people will go, ‘Oh, that’s a sellout!’ You know what? F*** you!”
He isn’t the only one to make a lot of money doing coffee commercials. Bloomberg did not report the salary DeVito will earn for the new Nespresso spot, but Adweek revealed that Matt Damon received $3 million for 20 seconds of airtime opposite Clooney in another Nespresso campaign back in 2013. That Damon-Clooney collaboration only aired outside the U.S..
[Main photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment]