Thursday, April 16, 2009

$29.99, two for fiddy

Growing up outside of Detroit had many unique pleasures (see, e.g., frozen custard) but one of the things that I loved most about my childhood in Michigan were the amazing TV commercials. I know that statement probably makes me sound like a corporate pawn, but I'm not talking about the sophisticated, slick TV spots for Coke or Apple or whatever that you see nowadays. No, no -- I'm referring to true TV gems: local, metro Detroit commercials from the 90s. It really doesn't get any better.*

Plus, if you know me at all, you probably know that I love jingles. If it didn't sound so pathetic, I'd even go so far as to say that jingles are one of my "interests." And let me tell you, Detroit commercials back in the day had some great jingles: the Metro Detroit Ford Dealers song alone is like 4 minutes long with an instrumental interlude. I searched long and hard on the interweb to try to find one of those Ford commercials from the 1990s, but couldn't find anything. And I was dismayed to learn that Ford replaced its old, uplifting (if not excessively long) jingle with a new, much douchier one. The auto industry really is going downhill.

Even more disappointing: my number one FAVORITE commercial of all time, for Alan Ford dealership in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, is apparently now the stuff of legend and doesn't exist on the internets ANYWHERE. That means I have no choice but to describe it to you. Okay, picture this: a cartoon cowboy and his dog. Got that? Okay, stay with me here -- the cowboy sings this song:

Here dog, come on dog!
Me and dog want you to come to Telegraph Road
Right now
Get a good deal.


That's it. Ask anyone who was alive in Detroit in the 1990s and I guarantee they'll know the "here dog, come on dog" song. It had a huge cultural impact.

Maybe you'd have to be there.

In a close second in the contest for the best Detroit commercials EVER are the classic commercials from Mr. Alan's, an "urban wear" chain of a slightly ghetto persuasion (see http://www.mralans.com/locations.php). Anyway, Mr. Alan's commercials always involve a cartoon man (Mr. Alan) with big pants and extremely odd facial hair:



It's amazing Mr. Alan was able to flash those ambiguous gang symbols with only four fingers on one hand, isn't it?

A typical Mr. Alan's commercial from the mid-1990s would feature the cartoon Mr. Alan superimposed next to still photos of shoes and jerseys with a voice-over announcing the prices of those items with increasing levels of urgency. It usually went a little something like this:

MISTAH ALLEN'S!!!!
Timberland boots 29.99 two for 50!!
FUBU shirts 39.99 two for 60!!!
ROCAWEAR SHOES, 49.99 TWO FOR 80!!!!


You get the idea.

This is pretty representative:



And here is a slightly upgraded version of the classic Mr. Alan's commercial format, which actually involves real people talking:



One of the best Mr. Alan's commercials ever has unfortunately been taken off YouTube for reasons I do not fully understand, but you can use your imagination. It involved a high school kid trying to impress a girl and succeeding marvelously by going to "see the man" (Mr. Alan) and getting some sweet duds. Before he went to see the man, he looked like a total idiot in a plain red tee shirt. Once he emerged from Mr. Alan's, completely festooned with logos and insignias, though, things really started to look up for him socially. Thanks, Mr. Alan!

I miss those commercials. Here in Boston, there are a lot of cloying jingles on the air ("Bernie and Phyl's, quality comfort and price" -- ugh, we GET it already) but there aren't any ads that truly compete with the magic that came out of Metro Detroit. Oh, well. At least I have my memories.

*Except for maybe Brazilian commercials, but that's a post for another day.

8 comments:

  1. Great read, Steph. Detroit really does know how to throw down when it comes to the low-budget, frequently played commercials.

    Some other favorites:

    "No jobs too big
    no jobs too small
    we're father and son...give us a call"

    "You're 31 (which is now like...5) METRO DETROIT FORD DEALERS- THINK FORD FIRST" I know you mentioned it, but I thought I would sing a bit...

    "Call 1-800 HANSONS, GET IT DONE"

    Gosh, got to love these commercials. Gotta love Detroit.

    "STAND UP AND TELL THEM YOUR FROM...........DETROIT"

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  2. I totally forgot about the father and son commercials!! GOOD one. What about the goofy DOC ads where that guy (Richard Golden) would dance around with his hand on his stomach? SO BAD.

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  3. Anonymous5:53 PM

    I find you're tone in this post actually very offensive. Do you think that the gentleman in the commercial who you described as "festooned with logos and insignias" has any choice in the matter? No, he doesn't. His *situation* has made him think that those are the clothes he needs to buy to impress the girl. Don't blame the guy, blame Mr. Alans'. I really could care less what you think about this.

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  4. Very insightful, Schmon Schmanson.

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  5. Anonymous12:55 PM

    that DOC dude is rad, steph...you're missing the boat. you do your own advertising, build up your business to that level of success and then holler back, how 'bout that, playa?

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  6. Anonymous4:03 PM

    Theres an on going commercial in detroit now along the same lines for a butcher and at the end, the old guy said "nobody beats our meat" its kinda awkward and im pretty sure everyones in on the joke. But they keep releasing new ones.

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  7. Anonymous12:15 PM

    HEY...I WORK WITH MR. ALANS ....I ENJOYED READING YOU BLOG ON THEIR COMMERCIALS!!!

    CHECK OUT MR. ALANS NEWEST PROJECT....THEY ARE OPENING UP REALLY TIGHT FASHION FOWARD BOUTIQUES IN SOUTH FLORIDA...UNDER THE NAME SOLES inc.

    THEY HAVE SOME REALLY HARD TO GET ACCOUNTS AND ARE DOING REALLY WELL ...

    CHECK EM AT SOLESincBLOG.com

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

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  8. After much searching, I found the lost Ford jingles! You need RealPlayer to play them, but they still work!!!

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060518131410/www.thinkfordfirst.com/music.html

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