Posts Tagged ‘Commercials’

LOCAL TV – I’ll Have What Fred Rated Was Having

If you aren’t an old school Southern Californian, the next sentence will mean nothing to you, but here goes. Fred Rated and I once celebrated our shared birthday together. I was working my night job at the time and he just happened to show up so we birthday bonded with each other for a few magical moments. Basically, he partied with his friends while I pretended not to be geeking out. If current tv commercials were half as creative as those old drug trip Federated spots, I wouldn’t fast forward through everything on my DVR.

[youtube width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N8AzoDzQhM[/youtube]

He now stays behind the scenes as the voice of the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, but decades ago our local airwaves were under attack by actor/radio dj Shadoe Stevens (Terry Ingstad) and his frenetic alter ego, a hyperactive electronics pitchman in a Miami Vice suit. From Stevens’ web site:

“In the 1980’s, Shadoe Stevens was retained to devise an advertising strategy and branding campaign for a 14 store electronics chain known as the Federated Group. He created and played a character named Fred Rated in a series of commercials that were a mix of Saturday Night Live and Monty Python. Over a period of six years, he and a small team of artists created over 1,200 different commercials.”

Now let’s read that again… IN SIX YEARS, SIX PEOPLE CREATED 1,200 FRED RATED COMMERCIALS. Chew on that for a second. (more…)


RIP Crazy Gideon’s – Gideon is Retiring After 35 Years

His yelling may stop, but he will probably still be surrounded by nurses.

[youtube width=”590″ height=”420″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hOHY2eEXOY[/youtube]
gideonVery soon, we won’t have self-proclaimed playboy Gideon Kotzer to scream his bargains in our faces anymore… Crazy Gideon’s has announced its final sale and will be going out of business after 35 years. He’s crazy, but he’s not stupid… no doubt he’s hurrying to shut the doors before he CHANGES HIS MIIIIIIIND!!!!!! 

A man clearly filled with entrepreneurial spirit, most Angelenos recognize Tel Aviv-born Gideon as “that guy” on late night television, often straight-jacketed and surrounded by women in nurse outfits as he screams about craaaazy deals in a thick Israeli accent. Gideon’s acting chops can *also* be seen at 6:00 in this short film made by “career homeless” neighbor, BumDog… in which he portrays a member of the Jewish Mafia. My personal favorite line in his monologue is: “If you don’t give me my money back I’ll teach you how the fish make pee pee!!!” Nice touch, Gideon!

Your unique style will indeed be missed, Sir. Godspeed to you.


FOCUS – See Cal Profit

Cal Worthington and his dogg SnoopCalvin Coolidge “Cal” Worthington was a bad ass. I mean, we’re talking about a man who braved Southern California heatwaves wearing a polyester cowboy leisure suit. For decades, he stood on top of biplanes in midair, rode charging hippos and wrassled bears and tigers. Just to get you to go see him. And it all paid off… a profile in the Sacramento Bee (published in 1990) stated that ol’ Cal grossed $316.8 million in 1988. Okay, now add inflation. That’s a lot of Fords, my friend.

Cal was one of the very first car dealers to appear in their own TV ads as a wacky character, promising if he couldn’t give you the best price that he would stand on his head or eat a bug. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any youtube videos of Cal eating bugs so I’m unsure if he ever actually ate any. But he did an awful lot of other stunts for rolling cameras, as evidenced below. (Turn your speakers down if you don’t want to be humming his theme song all day.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOsLdT4slsk[/youtube]

From the first link:

Mr. Worthington came to Southern California in 1948 after a much-decorated military career piloting B-17 Flying Fortresses on 29 combat missions over Germany. He made enough selling used cars to start trading in war surplus. That’s what brought him to California, where it took him nearly two years to sell a ship full of corroded welding equipment he’d bought. He cleared $13,000, which was enough to buy a Muntz dealership.

Mr. Worthington became an early believer in the power of television advertising. Rather than buy ad spots, he produced entire programs. Every Saturday and Sunday night, he was host of a three-hour variety show broadcast live on a Los Angeles station from Cal’s Corral at his dealership. The show featured a who’s who of country music stars, including Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and Roger Miller. The rising cost of television time eventually forced Mr. Worthington to focus on shorter ads in which he praised specific cars on his lot while wearing a 10-gallon hat and a garish western suit from Nudie Cohn, the rodeo tailor.

One day a rival dealer appeared in commercials with his dog, named Storm. As a joke, Mr. Worthington started countering with ads featuring “my dog Spot.”

“Only Spot was never a dog,” he said with an infectious, off-kilter grin. “It was always a chicken, or a possum, or a duck or something. But it was never a dog.”

Over the years it became a signature gimmick. Mr. Worthington appeared with a zoo’s worth of creatures, including a lion, an elephant, a water buffalo, a gorilla, a tiger, a rhinoceros, assorted snakes and even a killer whale (which he rode) at Sea World.

Mr. Worthington, whose formal education ended with the ninth grade, said he had only one occasion to rue his lack of schooling. “I wanted to be an airline pilot after World War II, but the airlines wouldn’t take you unless you had a college degree,” he said.

Cal is 88 years old now and his son voices most of his current commercials. In addition to automobile dealerships, it’s said that the Worthington family owns ten ranches as well as three shopping centers and one office tower, grossing $600 million a year.

So really… there’s a big life lesson in this, people. Especially during hard economic times like these, if you really want to succeed in life sometimes you’ve just gotta just quit whining, take a deep breath, get up some courage and do something crazy to get yourself noticed. It might just pay off. Bug eating and bear wrestling (or trying out for a reality show, for that matter) isn’t original anymore so you may need to get a little more creative, though. Be a bad ass.

When the going gets tough, just think to yourself… WWCWD?