TV Commercials

Who's Nationwide's World's Greatest Spokesperson in the World?

Perhaps the more important question is -- who cares?

Or maybe the question is -- why is something like car insurance so often pitched by comic ads?

Now that industry competitors have staked out their commercial territory with wacky characters and funny bits, Nationwide has come late to the party with their own bizarro pitchman.

We're pretty familiar now with Progressive's Flo with her bouffant hair and fire-engine red lipstick And we've seen the whole menagerie of characters from Geico including talking geckos and metrosexual cavemen.

Enter the World's Greatest Spokesperson in the World.

This over-the-top character pushes his way into people's homes with a blue tie and a matching blue Western Electric telephone strapped to his midsection. He proceeds to make promises to prospective customers if they'll switch over to Nationwide.

We suppose this approach showcases Nationwide's customer-service advantage, if they indeed have one.

Insurance agents do have a reputation for being obnoxious so this character is somewhat believable on that score.


The World's Greatest Spokesperson in the World ad campaign, a product of the McKinney agency (they also came up with Travelocity's Roaming Gnome), seems a bit derivative, actually.

If you threw nine parts Progressive's Flo and one part the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World in a blender, the Nationwide guy is what we suspect you'd get.

But maybe goofy is the operative word for car insurance ads.

Even Allstate, who since 2003 has employed the no-nonsense Dennis Haysbert as their pitchman, have recently added a new character.

Enter Mayhem from Allstate

And by the way, who is the World's Greatest Spokesperson in the World?

He's Bob Wiltfong and this is a big break for Bob.

Before this you'd only seen him as characters like Executive #1 on 30 Rock or Reporter #5 on Dirty, Sexy Money.

The Nationwide campaign may be a little weird but Bob does his best with what he's given to work with and we hope this assignment leads to big things in the future.

Personally, we just don't go for this goofy jazz when the subject is something serious like car insurance.

Give us something solid and trustworthy like Eagleman any day...


T and A: Infomercial Style

The Tiddy Bear

Booty Pop

The Hawaii Chair


Seven Commercials That Prove We'll Buy Any Damned Thing

A hearing aid that masquerades as a Blue Tooth Earpiece?
Because nothing says sexy like showing up at a party wearing your phone on your ear.

What the hell is a Mind Sticker?!
Sounds like something out of a George Orwell novel. We're thinking this commercial was made before the women's lib movement had much traction.

Some copywriter got paid for coming up with the Ultra Brite campaign.
We guess that this ad was aimed at women because the lipstick thing just doesn't work the other way around.

You've never had it so Kool!
Nothing's better when you're hot, dry and parched than putting a burning, fuming stick in your mouth.

Kno, it's knot just a Knitter, it's Knifty, too!!

The BluBlocker Sunglasses Rap
His name is Geek if it's late or it's early...the face on his shirt is a Stooge named Curly...

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Somewhat Ironic TV Commercial Spokespersons

William Shatner gets over his fear of flying

Before Star Trek, William Shatner was jetliner passenger and TSA-headache Robert Wilson in the classic Twilight Zone episode,
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.

No longer afraid of flying coach, Shatner today busts moves for Priceline for big bucks.

The Six Million Dollar Man gets a hearing aid

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. We can make him better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster."

Sticking to the bionic theme, Lee Majors now promotes his own brand of hearing aids.

Mr. T goes from cinema tough guy to commercial funny man

When Mr. T started pitying poor fools he was a pretty scary character ready to give Rocky Balboa the fight of his life in Rocky III.

But Mr. T has successfully reinvented himself as a faux tough guy selling candy bars...

and videogames:

She Didn't Have One of These in the Little House on the Prairie

Charles and Caroline Ingalls eked out a meager life on the harsh, unforgiving prairies of Minnesota. Karen Grassle, who played the stoic and heroic Caroline, is today the TV spokesperson for Premier Walk-In Bathtubs.

Please Don't Squeeze the Charmin

Mr. Whipple
Dick Wilson, born Ricarrdo diGuglielmo, was paid $25,000 a day with 11 and a half months of vacation for telling women not to squeeze the Charmin.

It wasn't his only gig as an actor. According to Wikipedia, he made nearly 40 movies and had a number of semi-recurring roles on TV -- he was the drunk on Bewitched -- and before all that was an acrobatic dancer.

But it was his 500 commercials as Mr. Whipple that will be his major legacy. And there were perks in the assignment. In addition to his earnings as spokesperson, Charmin gave him a lifetime supply of toilet paper.

Those Madison Ave. Mad Men are something else, aren't they?
Who would have thought that toilet paper could be pitched with a romantic, tactile slant?

Mr. Whipple passed away in 2007 and thefox22 uploaded the memorial YouTube tribute above. Here's Mr. Whipple in action, as most TV viewers saw him.

Does a bear use toilet tissue in the woods..?
The Whipple campaign was eventually replaced by a series of commercials so edgy and disturbing that it almost qualifies as some kind of viral marketing effort.

Yes, we're talking about those damned animated bears in the wood -- get it? -- and their preoccupation with residue...

Hamburger Wars: Wendy's Turns Up the Heat

"You Know When It's Real"
Wendy's recently launched a new marketing campaign, reportedly the first offering from their ad agency, the Kaplan Thaler Group.

The new TV commercials, in our opinion, are funny and clever -- something about the room full of Abe Lincolns is hilarious -- but there's something else that makes these spots stand out...

Wendy's has gone back to the basics of making a case for why their hamburgers deserve your consideration.

I'm Lovin' It?
As much as McDonald's would want you to believe it, telling us that Justin Timberlake is LOVIN' his Big Mac is not a compelling case for buying one. And seeing a guy in a Halloween mask with a cape is clever way to distinguish Burger King from McDonalds but, again, doesn't offer a clear rationale for a Whopper.

McHockey Puck?
In these current Wendy's commercials, the image of hockey players using the frozen patties of their competitors for pucks makes a statement, as does the sight of presumably Big Mac or Whopper patties being dumped in a warming tray.

Burgers: The Selling Proposition
Before the personality-driven campaigns that featured the late Dave Thomas, Wendy's worked hard to not only distinguish themselves from the burger competition, but to also drive home what marketers call the selling proposition.

Where's the Beef?!
You had to be there to know just how popular this commercial was in 1984. It was big. Wendy's was on the leading edge of viral marketing with this spot and Clara Peller, with her trademark line "where's the beef?," was an overnight sensation, discussed at so-called office water coolers all over the country.

Politicians get into the act
The "Where's the Beef?" phrase was so big that during the 1984 Presidential primaries, soon-to-be Democratic nominee VP Walter Mondale used it to shoot down soon-to-be-scandal-bedeviled Gary Hart. You can see here by his smug look that Mondale had been rehearsing this line all week and was just waiting for the right moment to spring it at this debate.

Parts is Parts...
Wendy's also took on KFC back in the day with their Parts is Parts classic.

Apocalypzia's Take on Other Marketing Wars:

Cola Wars Round 1: Pepsi Pours it On

Cola Wars Round 2: Coke...The Real Thing

Snapple's Better Stuff

Snapple had a problem.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has been getting a very bad rap lately on the health front but it was one of Snapple's best stuff ingredients.

What to do?

Find better stuff!

That better stuff is good old sugar.

Apocalypzia gives Snapple points for tackling the problem with wit and humor.

Extreme Makeovers: Mad Men Style

Green Giant Canned Vegetables
The Green Giant didn't look so jolly in his early appearances. In fact, he was scary as hell. He was hunched, scowling and looked on the prowl for bloody Englishmen.

The Leo Burnett ad agency was given the assignment of changing all that. Said Bob Noel, creative copywriter there, "when you try to move the Giant around and really show what he looks like, he comes off a monster. The baby cries and the dog goes under the bed."

The big green guy got an extreme makeover sometime after 1958. No more incredibly-hulking full view shots. Instead he was shown only in silhouette or partial view to make him less intimidating. He also became the jolly Green Giant and was given his signature laugh. After all, how scary could a guy saying Ho Ho Ho be?

And why did these vegetables come from the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant?
Before changing their name to the Green Giant Co. in 1950, the company that made this product was the Minnesota Valley Co

This animated commercial for Ajax Cleanser reportedly clocks back to 1947. There's a bit of a debate at YouTube about vocal credits. Kingpong61 reports that the deep voice of the trio is that of Thurl Ravenscroft, whose most famous character was probably Kellogg's Tony the Tiger (They're Greeeaaatt!). Carlitosbug disagrees, giving the credit to Joe Silver.

Then Ajax -- who took its name from the Greek warror god -- had an image makeover. No more cutesy little cartoon characters slipping and sliding around your wash basin. Ajax was in the mood for a genuine butt-kicking beat-down. And dirt didn't stand a chance.

White Tornado
And Duuude! What could be more kick-butt than a gnarly tornado?

Stronger Than Dirt!
Further leveraging off the warrior imagery, Ajax again went on the cleaning offensive for their laundry detergent.

The Stronger Than Dirt ad slogan actually became part of rock-culture when, in the 1969 hit song Touch Me, Jim Morrison and the Doors used the phrase and the melody for the last four notes.

7- Up
Fresh-Up Freddie wasn't exactly the coolest cartoon character to pitch a product. The Keebler Elves had more game than this guy.

But in one of the most successful re-branding efforts of all, 7-Up carved out a new niche as the Uncola. It was a brilliant ad campaign and Geoffrey Holder was masterful as he laughed off the inferior cola competition.

Get Your Beer, Here!

How We Sell Beer Now

But things were different back in the day.
In 2007, consumption of beer in the US climbed to 22 gallons per capita. Riding the upswing, beer ads are humorous and clever.

But in the 1950's, beer -- with the image of being bloating and boorish -- had a hard time finding a market.

These beer commercials from many years ago have a very different vibe, don't they?

Milller: Sparkling Flavorful, Distinctive
In those tough years, Miller tried to spin beer as something classy and special. They pitched Miller High Life as the Champagne of Bottled Beer.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer
Now these are people who knew how to chillax!

The tavern setting has somewhat of a blue-collar feel but the guys are in suits and ties and the ladies have on dresses and make-up. And the beers are being served by a guy in one of those fancy restaurant outfits so beer must be snazzy stuff, right? After all, it won a Blue Ribbon, don't you know. Am I right, or am I right?

Schlitz: Grab for the Gusto

By the 1960's beer commercials took a different tack. Schlitz downplayed the merchandise and hyped a life of danger and adventure. Life was about grabbing for all the gusto or it just wasn't worth the trip at all.

This ad is a good example of the lifestyle marketing approach that Pepsi used to battle Coke. Notice that in this commercial, the product isn't mentioned until 40 seconds in.

Let it be Lowenbrau
Each beer brand staked out its territory. Schlitz was about living life to the fullest while Lowenbrau was about kicking back with family and friends.

The great Arthur Prysock sang the Lowenbrau theme song for years, adding a genuine dimension of class to the brand,

It looks like this particular commercial was shot in black and white but they ran out of money half way through the colorization process.

Hamm's: From the Land of Sky Blue Waters
Hamm's took a more confusing approach, mixing cartoon characters with couples dining elegantly, albeit in the middle of a river.

But the bottom line is that there's a lot going on in this 1950's vintage beer commercial. Too much going on here. W-a-a-y too much.

How well do you think the Dos Equis campaign might have worked in 1956?

Sex Sells: Even Back in TV's Golden Age

sex sells

This 2008 Levis 501 Commercial Isn't Going Where You Think
But there's no question what the message is here.

In TV's Golden Age, sex was just as important as it is today.
Though generally handled with nuance and double meaning, Mad Men Ad Men back in the day seemed determined to embed a sexual dimension somewhere in a TV commercial's message.

Maybe TV's Golden Age wasn't so puritanical, after all.

Do you agree with us about the ads below? Or is it just us?

The best part of waking up is Folger's in your cup...
Are you picking up on a sexual subtext in this vintage Folger's Coffee commercial?

The Swedish Mrs. Olson went from house to house mending troubled marriages by teaching young couples new techniques to bring them closer together.

And it wasn't just Mrs. Olson either.
Folgers dispatched Mr. McGregor to push Folger's Instant as some vague kind of marital aid.

Take it Off. Take it All Off!
There was nothing subliminal about Swedish blonde bombshell Gunilla Knudsen begging men to take everything off, backed by the blaring horns of David Rose's "The Stripper."

Shaving never sounded so sexy.

A Silly Millimeter Longer
Could any ad be less subtle than this?

What every man wants ... a pack of smokes with a great set of gams
This commercial doesn't have any sex appeal today but we figure that, sometime during the Eisenhower administration, TV viewers were going Hubba Hubba over this ad.

And by the way, how must it have felt to have been one of the dancers who didn't make the cut at the auditions for this commercial?

I Love Lucy...if you catch my drift...
Rumor has it that Desi had an eye for the ladies and Lucille Ball had some difficulty holding his attention. All this makes more interesting Lucy's line, "You see how easy it is to keep a man happy?"

A Little Dab'll Do Ya
Is this woman doing some kind of creepy breeding potential analysis? Is that what she means by the comment that the guy's hair is "so disturbingly healthy, so full of life?"

Of course, times change...
Big-time Hollywood actor and star of Transformers, Josh Duhamel, here, looks more like the before picture in the Brylcreem commercial.

Designer Jeans: How America Bottomed Out in the 1980s

brooke shields

Calvin Klein - Jailbait Jeans
There's something disturbing about the following commercial. Maybe it's that Brooke Shields was only 16 when it was made! The tagline was supposed to be risque and innocent all at the same time. Having Brooke whistle "Oh My Darling, Clementine" while sitting spread-eagle was someone's idea of a good commercial.

Maybe they were right. The nothing between Brooke and her Calvins was a topic of conversation for much of the early 1980s.

Jordache Jeans: "You Got the Look I'd Like to Know Better"
It's hard to believe that white stitching on your butt could turn heads at a party, yet once upon a time jeans were fashion statements and status symbols. That was then.

Now you can buy Jordache Jeans at such fashion-forward retailers as Sears and Wal-Mart.

Lee Jeans - Attitude!
This mid-1980's commercial screams MTV in the worst way. It was a different place and a different time where and when our jeans, were like, you know, about an attitude, man.

Bonjour Jeans - Ac-tion!
While Jordache and Lee were doing the more mainstream kind of marketing at the time, Bonjour decided to go all edgy and everything. Even with its I-Dream-of-Jeannie special effects, this commercial couldn't have cost more than 38 bucks to make.

Bon-Jour! Ac-tion! Bon-Jour!

Chic Jeans - Sex and the City Disco-Style
We don't know how anyone was ever inspired to go out and buy a pair of jeans after watching this commercial but some MadMan must have thought it had potential. But we don't think the company had much confidence in their jeans since they were ready to give you a free skirt if you'd just buy a pair.

Read other Apocalypzia posts in the TV Commercials category.

Mac vs PC: The Global, Bizarro, Historical View

mac and pc

Hello, I'm a Mac ... And I'm a PC
It's been three years now since Mac and PC first teamed up for the Apple ad campaign. Has it all been worth the trip?

The TV commercials still seem to create buzz and the latest round has Patrick Warburton and Robert Loggia joining the Mac and PC avatars.

Perhaps more important to the Apple bottom line, Ars Technica reports that Macintosh US market share has trended upward since the campaign began.

Mac market share

Around the World

odd couple

Here in the US we know Mac and PC as Justin Long and John Hodgman and it's hard for us to imagine anyone else playing this Odd Couple. But around the world, Apple depends on local talent. How does the rest of the world see the Felix and Oscar of personal computing?

Here's several takes on the Pie Chart commercial from around the planet.


Great Britain
The dynamic between Mac and PC is familiar here, though PC presents a fairly stuffy persona compared to John Hodgman's more nuanced approach. Mac here seems to be trying to channel the gifted and underrated Justin Long.

Apple employs the comedy team Rahmens for their commercials in Japan. It's interesting - and probably smart - that Apple doesn't always try to replicate the total look and feel of the US versions. There's a very different vibe here between Mac and PC.

Bizarro Jerry and Bizarro Bill


There was another strange incarnation of this odd coupling when Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates teamed up for a short-lived Microsoft marketing disaster.

This Bizarro version of the Macintosh campaign is ironic given that Jerry is a huge fan of Superman. That Jerry's character on Seinfeld always had the most current Mac sitting on the desk in his apartment made the campaign that much more...well...bizarre.

The campaign was successful only in finally exposing Jerry to the Seinfeld Curse that had allegedly plagued Michael Richards, Jason Alexander and, until Old Christine, Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The Real Thing
Perhaps the strangest version of Mac and PC was the 2007 joint interview of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

How It All Began

Hello, I'm a Mac...
During the 1984 Super Bowl, Apple Computer ran a Ridley Scott-directed commercial in which a dark apocalyptic world is transformed and redeemed by a hammer-hurling beauty.

Even Steve Jobs was conflicted about whether Apple should use such a brash ad to introduce the Macintosh. But this commercial is a graduate course in how to do everything right and pull it off with style.

Reportedly shown as a paid ad only once, this commercial, created such a legacy of cool that Macintosh is still reaping benefits.

This is Marketing Apocalypzia of the first order.

... and I'm a PC.
Just two months later, the IBM PCJr was launched with a very simple mission -- take down that pesky little upstart Macintosh.

While Apple's introductory commercial engaged the imagery of a future gone wrong, IBM's suggested the imagery of a past gone right, or at least so they thought.

The campaign, however, centered on Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, from the 1936 silent film Modern Times, a scathing critique of how the industrial age fueled desperation during the Great Depression.

This is the spokesperson for your new product? Yikes!

We call it the beginning of the end of IBM's leadership in personal computing.

Other Apocalypzia Posts:

Has Apple Lost Its Cool?

TV Commercials category.

Commercials for Clunkers: Chicago's Used Car Guys

cash for clunkers

The Cash for Clunkers Program is Over and Done.
The Department of Transportation reports that, this summer, 625,000 applications were filed in the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) for a total of $2.58 billion in cash-back. J.D. Power predicts a 2% increase in US auto sales this August over August 2008.

We don't know yet if dumping clunkers created any sustainable economic impact, but we're reminded of a time when a previously-owned four-door sedan with an Earl Sheib paint job and an AmorAll shine was exactly what many people were looking for.

Used car dealers -- a dying piece of American-Dream Americana -- played an important role in local TV programming, running insufferably long commercials during dreary, unending black and white movies on late, late night television.

We're sure you had favorite used car salesmen on TV in your town. Here are some that were popular in Chi-Town, once upon a tiime.

Linn Burton (... for Certain!)
Linn Burton was the key pitch man for Bert Weinman Ford and was one of the most familiar faces on local Chicago television. Each month he offered another hardly-compelling reason to come down and buy a beat-up used car (Can't say No in November!). His own personal shtick was to refer to himself as Linn Burton - For Certain!. Ah, they don't make 'em like Linn anymore.

The movie clip that bookends this commercial says it all. Used car dealers were the primary sponsors of old and forgotten movies like the ancient and forgettable Glass Key.

We once went into a rib joint in Chicago's Hyde Park. Bert Weinman spokesman, Linn Burton, was working behind the counter. As it turned out, he owned the place. Something to do when he wasn't pitching clunkers. We asked, "Are you Linn Burton?" Without missing a beat he answered, "For certain." Linn was, indeed, a classic.

Harry Schmerler (Your Singing Ford Man)
Every used car dealer needed a gimmick. Harry's was Rock-a-bye Your Baby...

Timmy the Newsboy - Long Chevrolet
This is possibly one of the most annoying used car commercials ever. This may actually be the most annoying commercial in the history of television. Timmy the Newsboy screams the word Extra! at least 12 times in only 30 seconds.

Soupy Sales to the Rescue.
We're not the only ones that found this kid annoying. If you can suffer through another 30 seconds of Extra! Extra!, watch for the surprise that the producers had for Timmy at the end of this version.

Celozzi-Ettleson: Hard to Find, Tough to Beat
This duo was a real staple on Chicago televsion for many, many years. There was an early attempt to get these two guys to go for more humor in their commercials but it didn't take. The straight-on thousand-yard stare of these guys just seemed to work better for them.

Victory Auto Wreckers
And now a change of pace. No collection of Chicago commercials about clunkers would be complete without this one. Here's a company that's been offering cash for clunkers for decades. As ancient as this spot looks, please be aware that it's still in rotation on Chicago TV!

Read other Apocalypzia posts in the TV Commercials category.

The Smoking Gun: A Brief History of Cigarette Commercials

philip morris ad

This Guy's Got It All
-- Sinewy guns, a manly job hoisting milk pails and a high-class dame lighting his smokes. Now if he could just shake that annoying cough and see someone about the blood in his spittle.

Much has been said about America's love affair with the automobile, but that relationship seems shallow compared to the more torrid long-running tryst with the cigarette.

In the mid-1960's upwards of $180 million was spent annually on TV advertising for cigarettes -- a lot of money even back then.

Cigarette commercials have been banned on US TV since January 2, 1971. (The last one was a Virginia Slims commercial on the Johnny Carson Show the night before.) But until then, cigarette commercials dominated TV advertising. Some were clever and some were not.

Let's take a brief look back...

Welcome to Marlboro Country
Though originally launched as a product targeted toward women, Marlboro came to personify the rugged individual of the Old West. The imagery was so strong that a cowboy on a billboard was enough to suggest the brand.

The strange time-twisted reality of the Marlboro campaign was not that cowboys in the 1800's smoked Marlboros but that there were still guys out there with cowboy hats, horses and spurs, driving cattle across the plains.

Ironically, the rumor was that even during it's heyday, Marlboro didn't sell as well west of the Mississippi where Chesterfield was the more preferred brand.

Winston Tastes Good Like A Cigarette Should
This is one of the least creative marketing campaigns of all time. Could a product claim be any more vapid or vague? Did other brands not taste like a cigarette should? And speaking of should, shouldn't it be "as a cigarette should?"

A simple-Simon rhyme matched with a clunky jingle. This commercial ranks at the bottom of the Apocalypzia ad scale.

Product Placements?
We can't even imagine Dr. McDreamy lighting up after a particularly grueling neuro-surgerical operation on Grey's Anatomy, but there was a time when stars of popular TV shows did in-character commercials. They weren't exactly product placements, but something close. Listen to my story of a man named Jed...

Even Fred and Barney got into the act.

Show Us Your Lark Pack
During the time that cigarette commercials were allowed on television some of the best minds on Madison Avenue created them. The following Lark commercial is not an example of their best work.

The great Stan Freeberg spoofed the Lark commercial in a way that only he could.

Seeing the Masked Man and his faithful Indian companion in, perhaps, a final cameo was the perfect payoff for this commercial. A special treat for Lone Ranger fans was seeing stoic Jay Silverheels break character to get the last laugh.

He has even more fun with his Tonto character here.

See other Apocalypzia posts from the TV Commercials Category.

Cola Wars - Round 2... Coke: The Real Thing

coke logo

Coke is the King of Soft Drink Hill.
And they stormed their way to the top of the heap with a history of in-your-face TV commercials that were anything but subtle.

While rival Pepsi was selling lifestyle, attitude and point of view, Coke's message was that their branded bottles of sweetened water were absolutely necessary before you could have any real fun.

See what we mean...

More For You
Apparently before she got right with the Lord, Anita Bryant drank a lot with strange men at the beach. That aside, the main message here is that Coke is the life of the party. Not the brilliant blue sky, the silver surf or sparkling conversation with pretty people. It's all about the Coke.

Things Go Better With Coke
Either this guy is trapped in the Matrix or somebody forgot to take the green filter off Camera One. At any rate, once again, Coke is required for you to have a good time.

I'd Like To Buy the World a Coke
Probably the most iconic of Coke's commercials, this Up with People wannabe is clearly self-serving and sappy. What if the world doesn't want a Coke? If you like Coke, fine. Maybe I'd rather have a Yoo-Hoo. Ever think about that?

Coke Is It!
If the 1980's movie Fame crashed head-on into High School Musical and there were no survivors, this commercial is the twisted wreckage you'd be left with. Why would you want to drink anything that would make you act like this?!

It's the Real Thing
This commercial is Coke's attempt to do the Pepsi lifestyle thing but in a desperate just-buy-the-damn-Coke-why-don't-you? kind of way.

And Where it All Began...
Apparently, Coke started out as a necessary substitute for adequate air-conditioning. More importantly, it was the drink of choice for that fast game of 5-Card-Stud with the other desperate housewives from down the block.

Unlikely Trio: Perky Flo, the Lying Glade Lady and the Indignant Caveman


Geico Fatigue?
After years of talking gecko's, voyeuristic dollar bills and indignant cavemen, the frenetic and schizophrenic Geico Insurance commercial blitz seems to have gotten overwhelming, predictable and very tired.

Flo, the Progressive Insurance Lady, however, still seems to us to be a fresh face.

Of course, the face above, belonging to Stephanie Courtney, is not the face of Flo that we're familiar with.

We're used to seeing her like this...

But what does Flo do on her days off?

Apparently, she does yoga with the Glade Lady...

And does HR counseling for the Geico Caveman...

Do all these spokespersons hang out together? Do they hold their own convention?

See more posts from our TV Commercials category.

Sleeping at Your Own Risk: Nighty Nite!

That Was Then
Life was simpler in 1988 when this Nytol commercial was in heavy rotation. Getting a good night of drugged-out-rest was as simple as popping a pill.


This Is Now
Sleeping Aid commercials devote a little more time to disclaimer information today than the old Nytol commercials in the 1980's.

We're confident that today's sleep aids are safe, thoroughly tested and FDA approved. Some of their necessary legal disclaimers, though applying only to extremely rare cases, are a little scary for us, however.

Disclaimer excerpts from websites of popular sleep aids:

"Until you know how you will react, do not drive or operate machinery. Plan to devote 7 to 8 hours to sleep before being active."

One Possible Layperson's Translation: Treat yourself like a lycanthrope on the cusp of a full moon. Lock the door and chain yourself to the bed.

"Sleepwalking, and eating or driving while not fully awake, with memory loss for the event, as well as abnormal behaviors such as being more outgoing or aggressive than normal, confusion, agitation, and hallucinations may occur."

One Possible Layperson's Translation: You may get in your car, drive to a bar and get into a brawl with a real guy there -- or maybe one you merely imagined -- then drive back home and forget it all ever happened.

"Do not take it with alcohol as it may increase these behaviors. In patients with depression, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide may occur. If you experience any of these behaviors contact your doctor immediately."

One Possible Layperson's Translation: Ease up on the Happy Juice. You may get so much rest, you want to put a gun to your head and end it all.

"Allergic reactions such as shortness of breath, swelling of your tongue or throat, may occur and in rare cases may be fatal. If you have an allergic reaction, contact your doctor immediately."

One Possible Layperson's Translation: If you should asphixiate yourself and die accidently, call your doctor immediately.

Maybe counting sheep isn't such a bad idea, after all...

The Glade Lady

Glade Lady

Twists and Turns
The backstory on the Glade Lady is more mysterious and twisty than the plotline of ABC's Lost last season. Is S.C. Johnson, Glade's parent company, trying to hide something?

Who is the Glade Lady?
USAToday reports that her name is Dori Kelly and she's a former runway model from Pennsylvania. But to read what bloggers are saying, you'd think this was shaky information, leaked by a S.C. Johnson executive under protection of anonymity.

The GrokMedia blog has been on her trail for a while now and may be closing in soon. They want to talk to the Glade Brand Manager. They have a few questions for him or her about how the enigmatic and alleged Ms. Kelly fits into the overall brand strategy.

And there's much controversy about the Glade Lady over at the 13Months blog where they admit to being obsessed with her and have even plotted her on a four box Hot vs Idiotic grid. She's been called Ms. Liar Liar there and they aren't thrilled with what she did to an animated gingerbread man. Yikes!

You decide...

But wait, there's more...
Does the Glade Lady have a dark B-Movie past that's being hidden from us? Some think that she was in the cast of 1991's Winterbeast, a film that looks like it could go toe-to-toe with Plan 9 From Outer Space. Watch for the character at about 57 seconds who says, "I think we better get out of here..." Again you decide...

The Mercury Girl

mercury girl

The TV Commercial Guys Club is Not Male-Only
The Mercury Girl gently reminds you " to put Mercury on your list." Her assignment, it appears, is to help give the Mercury brand some personality.

That's been a long standing issue for Mercury. In the 1930's, Ford Motor Co. looked for a nameplate to position between its middle-market Ford and its upscale Lincoln divisions. Mercury seemed to fit the bill. Like GM's Buick, Mercury aims to be an entry-level luxury brand.

But the concept of entry level luxury has lost focus over time. Mercury cars, over the years, have drifted back and forth between being very nice Fords or very basic Lincolns. The nameplate seemed to lack a distinctive identity.

That's where the Mercury Girl (that's how she describes herself) comes in. She's Jill Wagner in real life and she's there to do for Mercury what the Verizon Guy did for Verizon and what the Caveman did for Geico.

Is she effective?
Jill's been at it since 2005 and that's one sign of success. The economic roller coaster, however, has been a rough ride for the last 10 months and the post-bailout world hasn't been kind to Detroit. But Jill is distinctive and fresh. And it certainly appears that she's been successful in giving Mercury something it's lacked from the beginning ... a persona.

Also worthy of note regarding TV spokespersons...
While the Mercury Girl, the Verizon Guy and even the Geico Caveman (his prehistoric name is Maurice, BTW) are all portrayed by actors easily Googled and Yahooed, the Glade Lady is somewhat more mysterious and enigmatic.

More soon...


The Verizon Guy

verizon guy

The Nameless Faces of Madison Avenue
If you live in or near Chicago and we mention The Empire Carpet Guy, you'll know exactly who we mean. In fact, you're probably humming the 588-Two-Three-Hundred phone number jingle in your head right now.

The Empire Carpet Guy dressed in his coveralls and horn-rimmed glasses is described by the Empire Carpet Company as "part blue collar superhero and part pure entertainment."

empire carpet guy

In real life, he's Lynn Hauldren, the ad agency copywriter who created the Empire Carpet Guy character and stepped in to play the role when auditions didn't turn up a better alternative. That was 32 years ago and he's still cranking them out.

By the way, Lynn also wrote and recorded the now famous jingle and before that was a World War II hero on the Indo-China Burma Road.

Guys, like the Empire Carpet Guy, are an important part of the marketing mix these days. We don't know their names but they are instantly recognizable as The (Fill-in-the-Blank) Guy.

Can You Hear Me Now?
Like some Mad Men progeny of The Empire Carpet Guy, the bespeckled Verizon Guy, dutifully dressed with coveralls, is large on the national stage these days. After humble beginnings, he now commands an army of Verizon technicians as they storm dead zones on the remote cellular frontiers.


The Verizon Guy is Paul Marcarelli, of North Haven, CT. He's an actor, a director, a screenwriter and, according to, a T-Mobile user because of Verizon coverage issues.

Seeing as he's been doing Verizon commercials since at least 2002, he might be more appropriately called The Rich-from-Residuals Guy. And he apparently has been a big hit for Verizon. During the first two years of the campaign, the company reported a gain in market share and a reduction in customer turnover.

But competition is tough in the TV Commercial Guy racket.
mac guy Dress Like a Mac Guy

When it comes to tech-ad spokespersons, is ga-ga over the Mac Guy. In a Spring 2009 poll, almost half of the participants named him as their fave. The PC Guy was a distant second, followed by Verizon's Paul.

Bringing up the rear was The AlTel Wireless Guy and -- a blast from the past -- The Dell Dude!

"You're Good!"
But Apocalypzia gives Paul Marcarelli special credit. He created The Verizon Guy persona with precious little dialogue. In fact, after starting out with "Can you hear me now?" his lines are now often cut to "You're good!"

Still, he's been able to evolve the character from tech-geek to geek-chic.

Yes, Paul. We hear you now.

iPhone 3GS Commercial. Has Apple Lost its Cool?

Does this Apple iPhone commercial work for you?

Let's face it, Apple is the High Priest of High-Tech commercials. From the groundbreaking 1984 classic that launched the Macintosh right through to the ingenious Mac vs PC campaign, Apple rules.

Through commercials like those developed for the iPod and the Mac Air, they've created their own special Ad-Vibe. Initial commercials for the iPhone were an excellent fit.

So what's up with the ad for the new iPhone 3GS?!

While this commercial -- titled Break In -- is not bad on its own merits, its seems decidedly ... well ... like any other TV commercial. Bland, derivative and stuffed with obligatory puffery.

Where's that Apple wit, humor and personality?

There seems to be some kind of vague Daniel-Craigy James Bond thing going on here. And are we to assume that those are Microsoft guys spying from the floor above?

Maybe they're President Obama's Secret Service agents dispatched to see if the new iPhone is better than the boss's state-of-the-art Blackberry.

Some believe that this ad will introduce a series of commercials with a related theme. If that's Apple's intention, this seems like a pretty weak start.

This commercial has a very impressive pedigree. It was directed by David Fincher, a self-proclaimed Mac Guy and the Academy Award nominated director of 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Curiously, despite these credentials, this ad seems rather ordinary.

Is Apple the victim of the high expectations it sets for itself with clever edgy ads?

Is Apocalypzia alone in this assessment of the new iPhone ad?

Let us know...

Stay Thirsty, My Friends...

The Most Interesting Man in the World
There's a rumor that Dos Equis Beer came up empty when trying to sign up a celebrity spokesperson a few years ago for a series of TV commercials. The solution, so the rumor goes, was that the ad agency invented a celebrity and launched the Most Interesting Man in the World campaign.

True or not, the brilliance of Euro RSCG Worldwide's marketing campaign for Dos Equis is how well it lampoons celebrity endorsements, leveraging off the outlandish popularity of Chuck Norris lore. With special irony, the MIMITW doesn't exactly endorse the brand but says instead that when he drinks beer, he prefers Dos Equis. A fine example of post-apocalypse marketing.

BTW, the actor behind the beard is Jonathan Goldsmith. You 1970's TV fans will remember him as one of the bad guys Charlie's Angels tangled with.

The beauty of the MIMITW campaign is in the details. Will Lyman, the authoritative voice of PBS's hard-hitting Frontline documentary series, is the voice talent. And the Dos Equis website is, as of this writing, totally devoted to the concept.

Philosophy Apocalpzia
The MIMITW campaign is further supported by a series of shorter spots where the character expounds on his life philosophy...

On Careers:

On Pick Up Lines:

On Rollerblading:

Maybe it's the beard, but we wonder if the philosophy bits were inspired by the Phistophicles series on YouTube, or maybe vice versa.

Kia - Go With What You Got

Why Even Think About Puffery?
The new Kia Soul doesn't have the documented solid performance of Honda Accord, the fuel efficiency of a Toyota Prius or the fine styling lines of a Lexus Sedan.

It's cheap and Gen Y tech savvy. Think of it as an iPod that can get you where you want to go.

The current marketing campaign reflects a smart and clever sense of humor. It gets good marks from us here at Apocalypzia.

Flashdance / Maniac
Last year, Kia also appealed to our sense of humor rather than make promises about the quality or performance of their cars. It's the attention to detail that makes Kia's Flashdance spoof work.