Van Damme’s bizarre adverts – and controversial one so violent it was banned

Jean-Claude Van Damme is best known as a Hollywood action hero – but his career has taken a very different turn since.

'The Muscles from Brussels' also has an extensive career filming advertisements – and has appeared in one of the most viewed of all time.

The Belgian actor loves to demonstrate his martial arts skills and has even poked fun at himself.

The Universal Soldier and Timecop star has transformed the fortunes of some major companies with his presence in their ads.

Although one controversial commercial was so violent that it was banned for breaching the rules.

As part of The Daily Star's look back at 80s Hollywood actors, here are some of Van Damme's most bizarre adverts:

Epic Split

Van Damme starred in one of the most watched commercials of all time in November 2013 – with some hailing it the best ever made.

Named 'The Epic Split, the Hollywood action hero starts with his eyes closed before speaking to camera in the Volvo Trucks ad.

As the camera pans out, it soon becomes clear to the viewer that the actor is balancing on two trucks reversing down a runway in Spain while going out 16mph.

In scenes that had never been done before, one of the trucks steers sideways while Van Damme begins to do the splits and seemingly defy the laws of physics.

After three days of rehearsals, the stunt footage was amazingly recorded in a single take – and was used to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering.

Van Damme, who stood on a small platform fitted behind the wing mirrors, was given protection by a hidden safety harness and wire which was not visible in the final clip.

"In action films that involve stunts there is always a risk," explained Van Damme to USA Today, who admitted the ad did leave him with some concerns.

"I would be less than candid if I didn't admit that I was concerned from time to time, when you are not concerned, you get careless, and then you get hurt."

The overall campaign was estimated to have cost around $3 million and generated $170 million in revenue for Volvo.

Epic Split has been watched over 101 million times on YouTube and won many awards.

The Baker

Van Damme demonstrated his incredible flexibility in a bizarre advert for GoDaddy in 2013.

A worker in a bakery gets a shock when he spots the veteran actor playing the bongos while doing the splits on two bags of flour.

After raising his eyebrows at the baker, Van Damme is then seen waving a pair of maracas while balancing across two walls.

The baker then opens up the fridge to find Van Damme playing a pan flute which is on fire.

He then causes a shock by hanging upside down like Spider Man before saying: "It's go time."

The commercial, by Deutsch New York, was a bid to move away from GoDaddy's previous provocative approach

Greg DiNoto, partner and chief creative officer at Deutsch New York, said: "'It’s go time' says we support small-business owners, helping them get ready to do battle, ready to step up.

"Jean-Claude Van Damme is representative of the spirit of this go-getter target audience; he winkingly says, ‘Let’s do business, let’s kill it.’"

Ultra Tune ban

Back in 2017, Van Damme was the hero in an advert for an Australian car service company.

The Ultra Tune ad shows two frightened women returning to their car to find a flat tyre, before a menacing gang member smashes up their vehicle.

When the villain asks if they have car trouble, the thugs stop when a leather-jacket wearing Van Damme appears and says: "Big trouble guys."

As he cracks his knuckles and gets into a martial arts stance, they reach into their pockets, seemingly getting ready to grab a weapon.

But the mood quickly changes and they joyfully shout "JCVD OMG" and start taking snaps as he gleefully poses for selfies.

The previously terrified women then walk off looking confused as Van Damme shows off some kicks to the thugs.

The Advertising Standards Community Panel said the happy resolution at the end of the ad was not enough to mitigate the earlier violence in March 2018.

They also weighed up the impact of the advert at a time when community concerns about gang violence in Melbourne was escalating.

In response to the investigation, Ultra Tune said the ad "contains no acts of violence nor portrays violence".

Despite denying the violence, the brand said if there was any it could be "justified in the context that the advertisement builds tension for dramatic impact and contracts with the gang’s ultimately benign intentions".

However, a majority of panel members thought the longer online version of the commercial was considerably more menacing and could not be justified by the unlikely outcome of Van Damme showing up to save the day.

"The majority considered that the happy resolution at the end was not enough to mitigate the violence," the decision said.

"The majority of the Board considered while this level of violence may be relevant to the action movie theme of the advertisement, the level of violence was not justified in the context of an advertisement for road-side assistance.

"In the Board’s view, the advertisement did portray violence that was unjustifiable in the context of the service advertised and did breach Section 2.3 of the Code."

Coors light

Rocking a sensational mullet, Van Damme was cold as ice in the Coors Lights ads which started in 2011.

High up in the Rockies mountains, Van Damme was seen trying to "recreate the ice-cold refreshment on a Coors Light" by chopping and kicking his way through blocks of ice.

In scenes not too dissimilar to fellow action hero Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV, double denim wearing Van Damme used his muscles to create an ice bar in a montage sequence.

After the success of the first ads, he was back a year later to make snow angles while singing 80s banger 'Take My Breath Away'.

The adverts transformed the fortunes of the brand, who once sat outside the UK's Top 20 beer brands, pushing them into the top 10 within three years.

Ali Pickering, brand director for Coors Light UK, said: "Coors Light sales have been very strong coming into the traditionally busy summer period in the UK.

"The strong marketing campaign, in which the Van Damme adverts have played a vital role, has really driven the brand’s growth over the last year."

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