Janine Melnitz was a particularly grumpy character in Ghostbusters. The office manager for the Ghostbusters, played expertly by Annie Potts, she was known for her abrupt demeanor and her signature phone greeting, “Ghostbusters, whaddya want?”
That character is returning after a long absence in a campaign for QuickBooks, and her usual surliness is replaced by a sunny disposition, thanks to the organization QuickBooks has brought the business.
Intuit QuickBooks’ national ad campaign, ‘QuickBooks: The Easy Way to a Happier Business’, stars iconic and notoriously grumpy movie characters from the past, like Melnitz, who reveal it was the stress of running their small businesses that made them cantankerous. Since they’ve switched to QuickBooks, their lives have been made easier, giving them a whole new attitude.
The first ad features Potts reviving her role as Melnitz in an exact recreation of the Ghostbusters office, with cameos by other beloved characters.
“We joined forces with Annie. It was a no-brainer for us,” said Michelle Taite, director of global brand marketing and Integrated Communications at Intuit, the parent company behind QuickBooks. She’s such a well-known character, a beloved one for all of our teams and our customers. As we talked with customers, there’s no denying Annie’s comic timing, she’s an easy choice for us. We jumped at a chance to introduce QuickBooks to her, and how QuickBooks would help support her with our products.”
Potts is seen answering the phone in character but in a weirdly cheery mood. She turns to the camera and says she used to be cranky because dealing with Ghostbuster finances “really haunted me.” She lauds QuickBooks and the company’s ability to customize for the business. A dry cleaning delivery comes in and Melnitz commends the company for getting “the burnt marshmallow stains out. Suddenly, the Slimer ghost from the original comes out and ‘slimes’ the delivery guy.
“I always thought Janine was friendly but I also thought it was clever for them to do a commercial using some notoriously inflexible secretaries and bosses, so that sounded like fun to me,” Potts told The Drum.
Intuit worked with TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles and comedy director Harold Einstein on the spots, and Tait said that “incredible attention to detail” was given to recreating the set, and that included using the original Slimer puppet and puppeteer from the original.
Potts, who has had a long career in television and movies in Designing Women, the voice of Bo Peep in the Toy Story movies and as Meemaw on Young Sheldon, will also reprise the Melnitz role in the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
With her impressive resume, Potts said she has only done one other ad. “(It) was a long time ago for Pop Secret popcorn and you know, I think mostly people find my voice is recognizable. That’s good for some products, and of course the character of Janine is also very recognizable so it makes sense that (directors) wanted to use me for those qualities,” she said. “The difference is you have a little bit more freedom with TV and movies. Commercials are very specific time wise... so the challenge is doing it in a specific time frame and doing it with all the information that the advertiser is looking for."
The second commercial in the campaign features Martin Kove reprising his role of John Kreese, the owner and sensei of the Cobra Kai dojo in The Karate Kid franchise. Thanks to QuickBooks, Kreese has rebranded his dojo as Koala Kai, “he’s gotten better control over his business and his intensity and his new motto is ‘show more mercy’,” Taite said.
In addition to the television spots, QuickBooks is also doing social and online activations, highlighting the renowned characters while also featuring real small business owners.