For French Sega Mega Drive/Genesis fans, the phrase "Sega Is Stronger Than You" is likely to ring in the back of the mind whenever someone brings up the console. It was a key part of the advertising strategy surrounding the system's release in that region (a bit like "To Be This Good Takes Ages" in the UK and "Genesis Does What Nintendon't" in the States) and was designed to show that Sega was more relevant and happening than its competitors, like Nintendo.
To demonstrate this fact, Sega of France and the advertising agency Lintas teamed up with the British director Barry Myers to put together a series of classic adverts about a mohawk-sporting Punk battling against (and losing to) Master Sega. The message was clear: no matter who you are, Sega will always reign supreme.
For years, nostalgic Sega fans have tried to find out the identity of Punk, contacting pretty much anyone and everyone to see if they could track down the muscular actor and find out more about him. They even went so far as to reach out to the Sega marketing vice president and cinematographer but had little success. That is, until recently.
In an interview posted on the website Sega-Dreamcast Info, Comby Laurent was finally able to put some questions to the actor, thanks to the help of Fred Derf and an English translator named Vince. Together they successfully identified 'Punk' as Ian Harrison, a British bodybuilder turned professional wrestler from Leeds who now lives in the United States.
Harrison apparently wasn't a video game fan but got the role after an audition where was told to hold up a chair and look like he was going to kill someone with it. He did such a good job, in fact, that he almost ended up clearing the room, kind of like a British version of Bruiser Brody. The interview is packed full of fun anecdotes and details like this, including an excellent story about how he apparently lied about being able to ride a motorbike, so he had to quickly learn in the car park of his day job in preparation for filming at Shepperton Studios.
As he explains in the article, this crash course didn't exactly pay off:
“The first day, the first take, I was riding the motorbike next to the seats in the station, the ground had been soggy, and I stopped in front of the stairs leading to the television screen. The motorcycle slipped out from under me and I crashed to the ground. Everyone panicked and worried about whether I was injured, but I had nothing and the bike had nothing either. I felt a little silly, but I learned the lesson."
Looking back today, Harrison seems to remember the experience as being a welcoming one, with everyone getting along on set. He also enjoyed some of the odd situations it led to, like getting to meet Kevin Costner's driver and the stunt coordinator for the original Highlander film.
We highly recommend checking out the full interview over at Sega-Dreamcast Info, especially if you're a fan of strange video game commercials or Sega in general. It is the culmination of an impressive four years and hundreds of hours of work, according to its writer Comby Laurent, and it shows in the wealth of material and insights available.
Do you remember watching these ads back when they released? Let us know your memories of them below.