anner Wakins cuts meat at the Crosstown Kroger, but most people know him as the surly debt collector in the Denvil Crowe law firm commercial.
Wakins, 23, had no idea how famous he’d become when his mother asked him to star in the local spot nearly two years ago. But he said he’s now frequently recognized and asked to pose for photographs with his mean mug.
“I knew it’d be funny at the time, but to be honest with you, I am still shocked at how popular it is,” said Watkins of the 30-second spot. “Here it is, a year and a half later, and people are still coming up to me. Advertising works.”
In the commercial, Watkins stands in front of a wall of flames and sings “Pay me, pay me, pay me. Pay me, pay me now.” A female voice off camera responds, also singing, that she can’t afford to pay and has a family to feed.
Watkins says he doesn’t care, so the female threatens to call Denvil Crowe. Now looking scared, Wakins ends with “Don’t you dare.”
The cheesy commercial, which is sung off key, is a recreation of a popular North Carolina attorney’s ad. And it’s gained a legion of fans across the region. People have blogged about it, there are links to the spot on YouTube, and even the haters admit it’s a catchy commercial.
“This ad left me speechless,” said one online commentator. “It’s so bad, it’s genius.”
In real life, though, Wakins isn’t at all mean. He said he’s a big joker and enjoys computers and cooking. He’s also a sucker for his four pets and proudly boasts the anniversary date of his wedding to high-school sweetheart, Jamie Watkins.