SolarWorld did not use an advertising agency to develop the spots. Instead, Mr. Hagman and Milan Nitzschke, SolarWorld’s head of marketing, co-wrote the script, according to Mr. Nitzschke. He said SolarWorld hired a German director, Sönke Wortmann, to shoot the commercials in Nice, France, about a month ago.
“It was quite an unusual way to do it, but I’ve known Larry for about three years and we both had an idea for how to do the commercial,” Mr. Nitzschke said.
SolarWorld, which is based in Germany but operates factories in California and Oregon, is just the latest solar company to run a prominent advertising campaign. Yingli , a previously little known Chinese solar panel maker, was an official sponsor of the World Cup. Its logo adorned South African soccer stadiums and was seen by millions of television viewers.
Since Yingli began selling solar panels in the United States last year, it has captured about a third of the California market.
SolarWorld wants to get the word out that while its headquarters is in Germany, it is manufacturing solar panels in the United States and providing jobs for Americans, said Ben Santarris, a spokesman for its American operations.
“The SolarWorld name has only been in this market since 2006,” he said, “We have competitors with American names that don’t produce anything in this market.”
This is not the first time Mr. Hagman has returned to his “Dallas” character in commercials. In the 1980s, he appeared as J. R. in television ads for BVD underwear. More recently, he reprised the character in a spot for British Gas, in which the oil tycoon praised a homeowner’s ability to control energy use with the company’s technology.
Mr. Hagman acknowledged rather gleefully that his advocacy of renewable energy might create some cognitive dissonance for those who associate him with a rapacious Texas oil baron. But he noted that there were barrels of money to be made from the sun as well.
“The thing is, these solar panels are manufactured domestically and can provide a lot of jobs for soldiers returning from all those wars we have fought,” he said.