In Search Of The Barber: Part Two

Several months ago I published an article here titled In Search Of The Barber. In case you missed it, go here and have a quick scan to familiarise yourself. If you can’t be bothered, allow me to briefly recap the gist of the previous chapter in this seemingly unsolvable missing persons case.

During the early period of the Dreamcast’s brief lifespan in Europe, Sega promoted the console through a series of TV and cinema adverts where multiplayer gaming was pushed as the system’s key unique selling point. I’m sure you’ll recall the whole ‘6 billion players’ controversy. The adverts in question featured two scenarios - one was titled ‘Buoy’ had a load of kids stood on a shoreline trying to hit a buoy with stones; the other was titled ‘Shave’ and involved a group of French foreign legion conscripts having their heads shaved by a trio of military barbers. It was the latter of these two promotional films that was chosen as Sega’s flagship advertising tool and the victorious barber (named Player Two in the advert) was depicted on a host of posters, billboards, in-game leaflets and even on the Dreamarena European online portal.
The Barber. On Dreamarena.
As explained in my previous article on this subject, this guy’s characteristic face, bare chest and distinctive tattoos* were all over the place for the first six months of the Dreamcast’s life - in magazines, on bus stops and even splashed across cinema screens before some of the biggest movies of the time (well, Star Wars Episode 1, anyway). He was literally everywhere. The thing is, there is no record of who he actually is. No credits on the Dreamography VHS tapes given away with pre-orders of the Dreamcast, no crew listings or location photos anywhere on the internet…and believe me - I’ve looked.
What my life now looks like.
Is he an actor? If so, why can’t I find anything else he’s appeared in? Hell, why can’t I find a single image of him anywhere, other than the few uploads of the Dreamcast ‘barber’ picture (most of which have been uploaded by me)? It's this complete erasure or nonexistence of The Barber that is the driving force behind this whole saga, and using the power of the internet I've decided to pick up the case and dig further into the mystery of this bloke's true identity.

My previous investigation trying to track down this elusive wig chopper pretty much lead me nowhere if I'm honest. While I did discover that the Shave advert was directed by music video director Vaughan Arnell; and the advertising firm that won Sega’s multi-million pound campaign war chest was WCRS, that’s pretty much all I was left with. Not much, I’m sure you’ll agree.

In the intervening months since I first embarked on this fools’ errand of a quest, I have had a couple of leads that have inevitably gone cold...and a couple that are still smouldering like the final embers of a camp fire that been doused with piss. First, I contacted Giles Thomas through his Twitter account. Giles was the head of marketing at Sega Europe during the period in question and I was hoping he’d be able to shed some light on my mystery man. Sadly, after one exchange, he stopped responding:
So far, so nothing. Next, I tried using plain old reverse image search on Google to see if I’d simply missed a basic trick for finding matching images of The Barber’s face…nada. The only images returned were similarly-lit photos of various bald-headed dudes. And Barack Obama, oddly. I think it’s this complete lack of any similar photos that stuns me the most about this whole thing. You’d think he’d have a Facebook profile or a LinkedIn profile or something? Anything? But apparently not. I refused to be beaten though, so I went back to the beginning and tried looking at the cold case (as I’ve started, rather worryingly, to call it) with fresh eyes. Go back to the beginning, I told myself whilst necking the dregs of an old whiskey bottle I found in a bin.

I already knew the advert was directed by Vaughan Arnell so I went back to Google and searched for any likely stings of words involving ‘Sega,’ ‘Vaughan Arnell,’ ‘Shave,’ and ‘WCRS.’ Eventually I was lead back to the long forgotten articles held in internet stasis by Adeevee and there I had a breakthrough. In one particular article from April 2000, I noticed that the crew - including production company - were listed. The Shave advert was apparently produced by a film company called Godman Productions: bingo! I went to their website and searched for anything relating to Sega or the Dreamcast. Naturally, there was nothing (the advert is over 16 years old, after all) so I went to my old friend The Wayback Machine and tapped in the URL.
Godman Productions' logo. In case you wondered.
This yielded the old version of Godman Productions’ site, when it was simply a place for (now director of Godman Productions) Dan Godman to peddle his photography wares. While this didn’t really provide me with a bonafide “eureka!” moment, it did at least confirm that they were the same company and after cross-referencing the current staff members at present-day Godman Productions I knew I had a lead. In a haze of optimism I hastily bashed out a message to the contact address on the site. It read as follows:

"My name is Tom Charnock and I am searching for information on an advertisement credited to Godman Productions and WCRS that was produced for Sega Europe in 1999. The advert is titled 'Shave' and was directed by Vaughan Arnell. The reason I send this message is that for some time I have been trying to find out any information available on the cast of this advert, namely the gentleman who portrayed the character 'Player Two' and who also featured as 'The Barber' on European Sega Dreamcast promotion leaflets, posters and VHS tapes. I have searched the internet extensively and tried to contact many members of the crew, WCRS and Sega Europe to be met with silence on all counts. As the production company credited for this short promotional film, I guessed it might be worth a shot writing this email.

The reason for my interest is that I run a Sega Dreamcast fan site called The Dreamcast Junkyard, and I'd like to archive as much on this system's history as possible. As the 'Shave' campaign was so ubiquitous in the UK during 1999 and 2000 is really appreciate any help you can offer. I have already written an article detailing my efforts to discover more about the production of this advert here: and would love to follow it up with some solid information."

At the time of writing, I'm yet to receive a reply...but I do have other leads. Using the knowledge that Godman Productions were involved, I turned again to Google and dug up this article from advertising industry website Campaign in which Shave is detailed as receiving a commendation at the APG Creative Planning Awards in 1999. This actually supplied me with two useful additions to my arsenal: an expanded list of production crew; and the information that the advert was (as mentioned) noticed by APG - the Advanced Planning Group - and commended during their annual advertising campaign awards in 1999.

A quick search for those awards led me to Warc (World Advertising Research Centre); an organisation whose website contains a section in which case studies on successful media campaigns are stored. At Warc, there is a paper hosted that was written by one Dan Izbicki simply called 'Sega Europe - Dreamcast,' and the overview of the report details the creation of the initial Dreamcast advertising campaign and the strategies employed therein. Going back to the Campaign article, Dan Izbicki was listed as the author of the Shave advert and a quick look on Twitter lead me to his account. I fired off a tweet to him asking if he was responsible for Shave...and against the odds, he responded:
At last, I was finally getting somewhere. Sort of. I asked Mr Izbicki if he was familiar with the identity The Barber, but he had no idea (why would he?!). He did however put me in touch with one of his former colleagues who also worked on Shave - Darren Bailes. I took the opportunity to ask Mr Bailes too if he had any idea of the identity of The Barber, but seeing as he's now the creative director of major advertising firm VCCP, I'm not holding my breath for a reply.
Warc's logo. In case you wondered about this one too.
Going back to the 'Sega Europe' report hosted in the Warc archive, initially it appeared to be locked behind some form of pay wall where a professional membership to the site is required in order to access documents. With trepidation I applied for a trial membership but wasn't expecting to be granted access to the report simply because I don't work in the advertising industry. To my complete and utter surprise though, as soon as I'd registered for a trial account, a business development manager called me to see if he could be of any assistance. I explained that I was researching this article, and he agreed to email me a copy of the report as a PDF (free of charge), and also gave permission for me to quote from it, should I find anything useful.

This was most unexpected and I have to give huge thanks to Mr Aboagye at Warc for this assistance. Alas, while the report does make for interesting reading, there isn't really any reference to the actual advertisements created - it's more of a summary of the brief given by Sega Europe. Here's an excerpt of the final conclusion, reproduced with permission from Warc:

"The creative idea of dramatising the parallel between everyday informal games, and playing on Dreamcast, fell naturally out of the strategy. However, planning continued to provide useful direction during creative development. Direct parallels with sport didn't work. The games we portrayed could not be organised competition; they needed to be informal for people to understand that we were sanctioning computer gaming and thus broadening its appeal. More importantly, sport parallels were simply mistaken for software commercials.

The idea also needed to express more than the will to compete. We knew from our anthropologist the importance of social interaction within the dynamics of play. Consequently we had to express the emotion and communication that surround play. Finally, some of our early executions lacked the uplifting values that were so crucial to the brand. Invariably this was because they portrayed life as one long competition. Our creative idea had to express how playing games was one of the joys of life.

In retrospect our thinking seems uncomplicated. Indeed its clarity gives us huge confidence in its strength. Yet inevitably the planning process and creative development was never as straightforward as this paper might suggest. The biggest challenge has been to ruthlessly avoid reverting to the tone and language of the current marketplace. The result is a redefinition of the category and a radically different approach to console advertising. We confidently believe that the Dreamcast brand will redefine the console market, right across Europe, for the twenty first century."
Source: Account Planning Group - (UK), Highly commended, Creative Planning
Awards, 1999. Report 'Sega Europe' by Dan Izbicki. Reproduced with permission from Warc

So what are the facts we have to work with here? Well, since the initial article all those months ago, I've established that WCRS was the advertising agency. The advert was written by Dan Izbicki and Darren Bailes, and directed by Vaughan Arnell. The production company was Godman Productions and the head of marketing at Sega Europe at the time was Giles Thomas. I've discovered quite a few articles referencing Shave, and even a report detailing how it came to be...but ultimately I'm still no closer to finding the identity of the cast, where Shave was shot, or the name of The Barber. All is not lost though, and the final twist in this particular chapter of the search lead me across the English France. Man, I really do feel like a globetrotting Nathan Drake-style adventurer now. Y'know, if Nathan Drake was a sad, nerdy bastard who spent too long looking at old websites and writing complete bollocks about Dreamcast games. Cough.
Too good not to use again.
See, while I was absent-mindedly trawling image searches and entering seemingly random strings of almost-relevant words, I happened across an image of The Barber that I hadn't previously seen (in still form, at least). It's this:
Something for the weekend, sir?
It's obviously a grab taken from the advert itself, but it was indexed as the thumbnail for the video as listed by French website, and the advert is labelled as 'Dreamcast: Rasoir.' Naturally, that's just Shave but written in French, but when I did another Google search using the French title the results threw up something interesting: the CV of one Ashley Haussman. I thought this was a little odd, but after following the link to the CV as hosted on SlideShare, I managed to pick out certain keywords amongst the credentials. Hausmann's CV detailed working with Vaughan Arnell, Godman Productions and Sega. Joining the dots, I quickly deduced that she must have been the casting director working on Shave. After a bit more digging, I discovered Ashley Haussman Casting on Facebook and fired over a prospective message along with some images of the Barber...and now I'm waiting for a reply. This is becoming increasingly familiar territory, but there's little more I can do...but wait.

I really wanted to be able to end this instalment of the search for the elusive man with some good news. Good news in the form of a reveal or something. Alas, this is not the case...but all is not lost. If anything, the case is even more interesting now than it ever has been. I have some good leads that I'm waiting for replies on, and I'm confident that all of this digging and pestering of major advertising companies and their directors will eventually yield some results. For now though, the case is still wide open and the search for The Barber continues apace.
One last thing: the Barber is not, and never has been the late, great Peter Postlethwaite (poetry?). Sorry if the following sounds like a rant, but I feel I have to add this little bit at the end as I am constantly being told that it it's him. It is not. If it were (and it isn't), would I have had to go to all of the trouble detailed above to find his identity? It would be well documented if a major Hollywood actor had appeared in a Dreamcast advert. But he did not. Yes, there is a passing resemblance, I will admit that...but it clearly is not the same man. For all of the reasons above, plus the overwhelming fact that it isn't Peter Postlethwaite. Firstly - you'd be able to find this info on Google...but it isn't there.

You'd see it on Postlethwaite's Wikipedia page, his IMDB, his Times obituary. It'd be mentioned in interviews and in articles about the Dreamcast. Would Sega have hidden the fact that a major Hollywood star was promoting their console? And why only in Europe? It'd be easily searchable, well documented and freely available information. Common knowledge, in fact. But it isn't. Oh, and there's also the fact that it isn't him. More proof? Well, look at the image below. If you think these two people are the same human being, I'd suggest a visit to Specsavers:
Different ears. Different ear positioning. Different head shape. No mole. Different hairline. Different complexion. Different eye colour, nose shape, facial lines, bone structure. Similar, yes. The same person? Do me a favour. You could argue they'd use make up. Really? Pay a major Hollywood actor who had recently starred in Jurassic Park: The Lost World, The Usual Suspects and Amistad then try to weirdly disguise him. For a Dreamcast advert? And then completely erase all evidence from the internet so in the future nutters like me could lose hours of sleep over it? Actually, when I put it like that...

Touché Sega, touché.


*Thought I should change that considering he may now read this!


Simon Early said...

Holy crap! Imagine if you channelled all those mightily impress, epic investigative powers towards something really worthwhile and useful ;)

Anthony817 said...

Impressive detective work there gumshoe. Here is to hoping you find Carmen Sandiego... I mean the Barber.

Robert Jones said...

Tom, you have definitely now fallen down the rabbit hole!

Tom Charnock said...

Haha! Thanks for the comments guys. Rob - I think I fell down the rabbit hole in October 1999 😅

Tom Charnock said...

Thanks Anthony. If only Carmen Sandiego was on my Whatsapp list!

Tom Charnock said...

Simon - if I Channelled this much effort into literally anything else in my life I'd either be in an asylum or a millionaire

Blank Stairs said...

Something really useful?! This is of the utmost importance!

Tom, as someone who also gets extremely fixated on extremely trivial things (as my wife would no doubt tell you), I can very much relate to your quest! LIke when I 1st heard you speaking of this, oh so long ago, I wish you nothing but the best with your search. I really hope that you find your answers! Good luck in your continued search, my DC brother!

Blank Stairs said...

On a related question, has anyone ever told you that your 'on the scale'? I've been told lots of times that I'm probably a bit autistic, and no insult here,but by the sounds of it, if that's true, you might be too. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I get extremely fixated on ridiculous stuff, just like you are with finding out who this guy is. I can also remember really long strings of numbers,forwards or backwords, and can do fairly complex math problems in my head, but ask me to do simplementation math on paper, and I'm utterly useless. I'm also pretty socially ackward. Have a rough time looking people in the eye when I talk to them, always talking over people's heads or my thoughts are really "jumbled" when I explain them to people, have a global IQ in the 99.83%, but can't do many basic tasks, etc.
If you've got a personality like this also, you may want to look into researching that.

Blank Stairs said...

On a related question, has anyone ever told you that your 'on the scale'? I've been told lots of times that I'm probably a bit autistic, and no insult here,but by the sounds of it, if that's true, you might be too. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I get extremely fixated on ridiculous stuff, just like you are with finding out who this guy is. I can also remember really long strings of numbers,forwards or backwords, and can do fairly complex math problems in my head, but ask me to do simplementation math on paper, and I'm utterly useless. I'm also pretty socially ackward. Have a rough time looking people in the eye when I talk to them, always talking over people's heads or my thoughts are really "jumbled" when I explain them to people, have a global IQ in the 99.83%, but can't do many basic tasks, etc.
If you've got a personality like this also, you may want to look into researching that.

shedcade said...

Hey Tom, I read this yesterday and being on a phone now I've only just skimmed through again so apologies if this is in there already... Or of it is known already BUT I *think* the WCRS Dreamcast account manager was a chap names James Moody, if it's new info, hope it's of use

Nicolas Oberlé said...

not sure if it will help you in your search, but I found something related to the Barber in an old French Dreamcast magazine.
In the "letters to editor" pages, someone claiming to be the main actor of the advert was congratulating the magazine's team.
He wrote that his name was Pierrot (nickname for Pierre), and that he was living in Marseille. There was also a picture of him in front of one of the advert poster.
I can send you a scan of this page if needed.
("Dreamcast le magazine officiel", issue number 3 march/april 2000)

Tom Charnock said...

Nicolas - that sounds incredible! Please, you could email me a scan of the page that would be amazing!! (My email is in the 'contact' section)