There is a dark and seedy underbelly to American existence. While we’re enjoying our purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain, there is something disturbing happening on our television sets. Naturally, I’m referring to the pure awesomenocity of flaky local TV advertisement personalities. Every single community large enough to have TV affiliates has at least one- if not several- of these wacky people. Their slogans are quoted, their names are memorized, they live in some sort of schaudenfreude infamy throughout the U.S. Discovering these nutty people in each community is one of my favorite parts of traveling. Here are some examples, with a heavy slant towards places I’ve lived:
Dirt Cheap Cigarettes and Beer
St. Louis, Missouri
Dirt Cheap is a St. Louis-area chain that sells cigarettes and liquor (beer most certainly included) at rock-bottom prices. Their former owner was a gentleman known only as “Dirt Cheap Fred”. He and his wife co-owned the business until (I believe) a divorce split the King and Queen of Vice and the Queen won the business in the divorce. Say what you will about the chicanery of it all, but these people understand marketing. They have a very clear icon (a talking chicken), a very clear market (people looking for cheap crap to get them impaired), and a very clear message (their slogans often involve outrageous references to “the last refuge of the persecuted smoker”; “remember, size really does matter”; and “The more she drinks, the better you look”). Above all, the talking chicken utters “Cheap cheap, fun fun” again and again. Just in case you don’t believe me, here’s an actual ad from a few years back. If you watch none of these ads, please at least watch just this one:
Becky, Queen of Carpet
St. Louis, Missouri
When I was a kid, we’d make an annual pilgrimage to the state of Missouri. We’d go camping for a week in the scenic Ozarks, and then we’d invariably spend a few days in St. Louis so we could watch the baseball Cardinals. It was a great summer trip, one that I’m grateful to my parents for making. We’d end up in a hotel somewhere in suburban St. Louis and I’d turn on the television. Every single year, I was greeted by a fat woman espousing the amazing value of her flooring while floating on a flying rug above the St. Louis arch.
Crazy TV Lenny
I grew up in suburban Madison. I moved there in 1986 at the age of 9. I was completely unaccustomed to Wisconsin accents and I’d lived in mostly rural areas. And so when I turned on the TV and saw a guy who looked like a college basketball coach who had a thick Wisconsin accent, it sort of blew my mind. This version of his ads doesn’t even begin to do him justice. After all, he was CRAZY! He practically GAVE THINGS AWAY!
Seeing their ad on the Jimmy Kimmel show a few weeks back is what prompted this whole list. I love how completely disinterested the girl on the far right is at the end of the commercial.
King Kong Fast Food
My friend Marty turned me on to this. It features a bunch of guys in gorilla suits fighting over cheeseburgers and a woman mispronouncing the word “gyro”.
St. Louis, Missouri
There is a furniture store here in St. Louis who points out that they are closed on Sunday in every single TV ad. They go on to point out that they’re closed because it’s “the Lard’s day”. You see, in St. Louis, the letter o occasionally is pronounced as an a. This is most notable when people refer to “highway 44”, which is pronounced “farty far”. This accent isn’t always noticeable but it’s hard to ignore when you hear it. Goedeker’s is actually referencing “the Lord’s Day”. They close on Sunday to observe their Christian values. To each their own and all that. If that is their belief, then I give them a big thumbs up for following through on it. That said, do they really need Christ on the cross on their website?!?! How does that sell furniture? Unfortunately, I have no ad link here.
A friend of mine sent this to me a few years back. The ad pretty much speaks for itself. If you don’t want to click “play”, you’ll miss out on a male eagle crapping out an egg full of insurance rates on top of a car while surrounded by thick Chicago accents.