FALL RIVER — Aviyen Merced was thrilled to attend this reunion. The 11-year-old city resident not only got to work again with baseball Hall of Famer David Ortiz, he got paid to do it.
For the second year in a row, Merced, an actor, has recorded a television commercial with Ortiz, aka Big Papi, for eternalHealth, a cloud-based health insurance company. The commercial, a sequel to last year’s baseball-game themed production, was recorded two weeks ago at a private residence in Southboro and is expected to start airing on cable television on or about Oct. 1, coinciding with Medicare’s enrollment period.
Merced, a sixth-grader at Holy Trinity School, said that Ortiz absolutely remembered him from last year and that Big Papi remained as friendly as ever. “He treats everyone like family,” Merced said.
And that included Merced, his mother Alyssa Silva, and his stepmother Jami McElroy. In a photo they adore, Ortiz is squeezed into the family’s folding chair, with the smiling trio squished in right behind. They ate lunch with the former Red Sox slugger, and Silva and McElroy even fetched coffee for Papi.
“We really got to know him even more,” Merced said.
EternalHealth, Silva said, contacted them about four weeks ago, asking if Merced would reprise his role as the grandson. The response was an enthusiastic yes — that was, once Merced could calm down.
“I was springing in the air, jumping up and down,” he said. “I was really surprised.”
It was a long production day at the house in Southboro, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The theme this time is the party after the 2021 game.
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Without revealing too much, Merced said he has some lines and holds a sign. He also has “some other fun things,” Silva said. “More closeups in the camera this time. … He did awesome.”
Integrated Sports Media, eternalHeath’s marketing and media agency, wrote and produced the commercial spot. Silva said she and her crew were once again very impressed with how efficient, professional and friendly the production crew was.
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Actor Paul Kandarian, a Taunton native, also reprised his role for the sequel.
And the extra good news. There is already talk of a third commercial. “They said they want to see the family grow up,” Merced said.