Charm City Commercials

A friend recently sent me a commercial that’s posted on YouTube (alas, it’s not with ’s classic mellifluous voice)…

MR. RAY’S HAIRWEAVE:

Will somebody please post the original Mr. Ray voiceover ads!

Anyway, it got me to thinking about some local ads that have achieved iconic status. At their best, they function as kitsch-laden ephemeral artifacts of modern folk art. At their worst, they’re just more crap on the boob tube, where it’s increasingly hard separating the chaff from the chaff.

To wit…

KIM’S KARATE (1987)

And the other martial arts sensai, JHOON RHEE’s “Nobody Bodders Me” ad featuring the Nils Lofgren jingle…

JHOON RHEE – “NOBODY BODDERS ME” (1980s)

Then there’s the fake car ad “Fuck You Baltimore”:

FUCK YOU BALTIMORE!

And speaking of getting fucked with, who can forget car salesman supreme Scott Donahoo?

SCOTTY O

Baltimore Ravens megalithic lineman Jonathan Ogden did a number of recent ads with the “Go, Go, Go GEBCO Girls.” I wish the original GEBCO Girl ads were still around, but what are you gonna do? The new jingle features local blues singer Kelly Bell and guitarist Dave Vergauwen.

GO, GO, GO GEBCO

Ogden’s teammate Ray Lewis did his pitching as “Inspector 52” for Eastern Motors:

RAY LEWIS FOR EASTERN MOTORS

Ogden and Lewis are pale imitations of Baltimore’s greatest jock pitchman, Bubba Smith, who hobbled around Memorial Stadium while phonetically reciting his cue cards for the Saiontz & Kirk law firm.

Eastern’s pitching towards its urban demographic base also led it to air commercials with the charisma-free rapper Fat Joe.

FAT JOE FOR EASTERN MOTORS

Another local celebrity was Stephen L. (the L stood for “Let’s Talk About It”) Miles.

STEPHEN L. MILES’ “HAPPY ENDING” AD

Of course, Stephen L. Miles was a scion of the Luskins family…who among us can forget Jack Luskin, “The Cheapest Guy in Town.” Here’s national celeb Jim Varney (aka Ernest P. Worrell) doing his “Hey Vern, know-what-I-mean?” pitch for Luskins:

ERNEST P. WORRELL FOR LUSKIN’S

And from the Atomic TV archives come these classic animated commercials touting Baltimore’s favorite cheap beverage! Keep an eye out for the “Natty Fro” commercial at the end.

CLASSIC “NATTY BOH” BEER ADS

NATIONAL BOHEMIAN/NATIONAL PREMIUM COMMERCIALS, PART 2

My fave Natty Boh ad is the one that’s been on my answering machine for the past twenty years, the “I’m home relaxing…” classic:

NATIONAL BOHEMIAN – “I’M HOME RELAXING…”

And on a related old time Baltimore TV note, here’s a look back at Baltimore kiddie show hosts produced by Tom D’Antoni in 1986 for EVENING MAGAZINE:

BALTIMORE TV KIDS SHOWS HOSTS FROM THE PAST

Tom D’Antoni also did a great story on Baltimore businessmen who made their own commercials. Included are Mr. Nobody, Jerry of Jerry’s Chevrolet/Toyota, Rich Coulson of Bill Kidd’s Toyota, Stephen L. Miles, and Alan Elkin for Advanced Business Systems.

THEY DO THEIR OWN COMMERCIALS, PART 2

And speaking of Tom D’Antoni EVENING MAGAZINE stories, here’s a piece on Wild Bill Hagy (who passed away last year):

WILD BILL HAGY

And here’s WMAR-TV/Channel 2’s “Let’s All be There” promo spot from 1985:

CHANNEL 2 – “LET’S ALL BE THERE!” (1985)

And finally, the City Paper called Senate Auto Insurance’s “Kiss My Bumper” commercials Baltimore’s Best of 2006 (Senate Insurance is based in Laurel, MD, but the ads air in both the DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas).


Senate Insurance plays the Big Fat Momma card

Starring comedian Howard G (BET’s Comic View, HBO’s The Wire), I think they’re incredibly derivative and unimaginative – stealing freely from the played-out concept of black men dressing up in drag as big fat mommas (see Tyler Perry and any recent Eddie Murphy or Martin Lawrence movie) – but I guess that tauting slogan has its bad boy appeal. And they do revive the great Low-Budget Urban Aesthethic of the Mr. Ray commercials. For a complete list of TV commercials, see the Senate Insurance website.

SENATE INSURANCE’S HORROR SPOOF AD

SENATE INSURANCE “GEICO CAVEMEN” SPOOF

SENATE INSURANCE’S “JERRY SPRINGER” SPOOF

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2 Responses to Charm City Commercials

  1. Kelly says:

    I am hoping you can help me! My father and sister did a local TV commercial in the 1970s. It was for my father’s company, McLean Remodeling. It started out with a close up of my old Fisher Price Ferris Wheel, and they had some slogan about “don’t go around and around with other companies”. My dad died in 1995, and I have tried to find the commercial for my mother. WJZ has no record of 1970s commercials (so they say). Any help you can give me would be really appreciated!

  2. Corey says:

    Any list that doesn’t include Micah’s Soul Food Cafeteria is woefully incomplete.

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