If you grew up in central Ohio, I guarantee that you read the headline for today’s entry with a little swing in your head. That’s because it was part of a jingle for a local carpet store: Call Mr. Edwards, call Mr. Edwards, call Mr. Edwards — at Rite Rug! It ran for years and years and years on Columbus TV and radio stations, the singers always kicking in at the very end of the ad, followed by the phone number.
(Here’s how old I am: When I first heard this commercial, the number was CApitol 8, etc. If I sat and thought about it for a while, I could probably remember the last four digits.)
There was another guy on local TV in Columbus, who pitched for Giant Don’s Furniture Warehouse. My dad sold furniture (wholesale; he was a manufacturers rep), so I paid particular attention to these. I wondered why dad’s sales pitch never included ponies, which you got if you bought a “living-room suit,” or a second room of furniture for only NINE CENTS. That’s right, I said NINE CENTS.
Well. Wherever you grew up, you can describe the local commercials. So I was interested in this WashPost story on how even locally produced commercials are fading away.
Homegrown commercials — for personal injury lawyers, vocational schools, regional car dealerships and the like — are still numerous, of course, but a disappointing sobriety and professionalism has crept in over the years.
I was particularly sorry to read that one of Kate’s favorites is, alas, not local:
And then there’s a whole group of commercials that only look local. Those Empire Carpet ads with the lost-in-time jingle (“800 . . . 5-8-8, 2, three-hundred! Em-pire. Today!”) and the amazingly antiquated animation come from a company based in the Chicago area that uses the same ads in more than two dozen cities.
Deliberately badly made, local commercials have a way of scorching their way into your brain, either through horror or repetition. When Columbus got cable (and our household didn’t), we were introduced to Kash Amburgy, of Kash’s Big Bargain Barn, South LEB-A-NON, A-hi-a: “Remember, if Kash don’t sell, Kash don’t eat!” We made a pilgrimage there when I was in high school. A lesser Amburgy gave us a plastic bicentennial candy dish, in honor of our long trip. (If he knew why we were so giggly, he didn’t let on.)
The story’s a great read, but I have to say, some local TV ads endure in their horrifying glory. You need to see some of Geoffrey Feiger’s ads to believe them. And the other personal-injury lawyers who advertise are pretty amusing, too. I never knew dog-bite settlements were such big business here.
Mr. Edwards has a website now. Share your local-TV stories in the comments.
One final note: I HAVE to shop at this place:
Among other images, Ranger Surplus uses a brief stock clip of a nuclear explosion in its commercials. Its spokesman, Captain Happy, wears sunglasses and a Smokey the Bear hat and reminds viewers “to carry a knife. . . . You’ll never realize its many uses until you have one on you!”
The chain’s unusual ad slogan — “This store is the cat’s ass” — was a bit of a fluke, says Kramer. A customer uttered it spontaneously during the taping of a testimonial ad five years ago, and it stuck. Now it’s a badge of honor, appearing on T-shirts and bumper stickers. “People stick their heads in the store and shout it out,” says Kramer proudly.
Well, I would, too.