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Why Brands Should Pause Before Giving the "Golden Voiced" Homeless Man Ad Work

Marketers rushing to sign up Ted Williams, the homeless man with the "golden voice" who has been burning up YouTube since Jan. 3 (below), might want to proceed with caution. This is, after all, a man with a criminal record for theft, robbery, escape, forgery, and drug possession going back two decades, according to The Smoking Gun. His police mugshots are pictured at right (click to enlarge).

Yet Kraft (KFT) just nabbed him as the new voice of Macaroni & Cheese (via ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky). The NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers have given him a mortgage and an announcer job, and NFL Films is also reportedly after him.

A happy ending? Sure, why not. Everyone loves a redemption story. But the Williams story is far from over. It is one thing to win sudden fame and riches. It is quite another to shift from being a cocaine user who drank "a fifth a day" several years ago to a productive member of the commercial media in the space of a few days. This is a man who, according to Columbus, Ohio, police, was recently asked to stop hanging out in the parking lot of a National Tire & Battery store with a woman who "gets picked up and dropped off in the parking lot by various and numerous males in different vehicles."

Clearly, Williams needs more than a check and an afternoon's work from Kraft. The ongoing prospects he's been offered with the Cavs seem to offer Williams more long-term stability. But both companies should consider giving him the guidance and counseling he'll need over the next few months as he re-enters normal life. That will be the best way of preventing The Smoking Gun et al. from checking back with Kraft and the Cavs to see how much "help" that voiceover work really was.