Back in 1999, when Sega was trying to get everyone to buy its new console, the Dreamcast, it released an advert that was plastered over television, played in the cinema ahead of films, and went on to be the basis of a poster campaign. Images from the ad were even inserted into the case of every Dreamcast game sold. The ad was called 'Shave' and you may well remember it:
The ad has a series of foreign legion recruits led into a barracks barbershop, where three barbers then compete to shave the recruits' hair fastest. One barber, labeled as player two, takes the win.
Now, for most people, that would be the end of it. I mean, this advert was released 16 years ago. What sort of a person would obsess over something like that?
Enter stage left: Tom Charnock, founder of Dreamcast Junkyard, a site dedicated to documenting the history of the console and the people who made it.
Charnock has spent more than a year trying to track down the actor who played Player Two, 'The Barber'. Finally, after much searching, and some weird discoveries, he has found him.
In June last year, Charnock explained his fascination in his first post on The Barber. "For a very short period between 1999 and 2000, this gentleman's face was plastered all over TV and cinema screens; a poster showing him posing with a barber's chair and hair clippers could be found in pretty much every games shop in the land, and the vast majority of Dreamcast games came with a 'coming soon' pamphlet in the rear compartment with this guy all over them," Charnock explains. "But do a Google search for 'Dreamcast barber' or words to that effect...and do you know what you'll find? Nothing. Not a bean, other than a few images - most of which come from this very site."
I won't spoil too much of the investigation as it's well worth reading all three posts in Charnock's series (Parts One, Two, and Three), but in his search for the identity of the actor, he comes across things like how Sega consulted an anthropologist for its advertising campaign, and why that led them to making an ad set in a foreign legion barber shop.
So, finally there is proof that Anthropology is an important field of study:
Eventually, however, with help from the Dreamcast community, Charnock not only identifies the actor, he manages to interview him. Much to actor Pierre Santino's surprise (wouldn't you be a bit thrown if you found out someone had been trying to track you down for more than a year because of a minute long ad you were in 16 years ago?).
I thoroughly recommend going and reading through the whole series. It's a wonderful snapshot of fan obsession, but there's also something admirable about wanting to make sure no part of the Dreamcast's history is left undocumented.