Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wild Pitch

Whatever happened to Mr. Belvedere? Or Marilyn Turner, hawking Carpet Center?

How about Bob Allison for Bobson Construction?

Remember Mel Farr and his cape, "flying" through the skies over Metro Detroit, promising a "Farr better deal" on Ford cars?

Or the Metro Detroit Ford Dealers commercials, which always featured sports celebrities, including all the Detroit sports team coaches at one time or another?

I'm still wondering if anyone got five pounds of free coffee from Ollie Fretter for finding a deal that he couldn't beat.

I can still see the homely face of Irving Nussbaum of New York Carpet World, with his tag line, "The BETTER carpet people!"

The company pitchman, in Detroit, has often been more well-known than the product being sold.

I should know; I work for one.

Brian Elias, my boss at 1-800-HANSONS, is one of the last of a dying breed, along with Gordie over at ABC Warehouse.

Elias and Gordie are among the last of the combination company owner/pitchman, which used to be a staple around these parts.

Elias is perhaps more well-known than his product---windows, doors, roofs and gutters---or at the very least, as well-known.

Gordie, of ABC Warehouse, has a company slogan to rival the "Get It Done" of Hansons': "The closest thing to wholesale." And his bespectacled, mustached face is enough to make people do double-takes when they see him.

Car salesmen have always made good pitchmen.

Not just Farr, the former Lions running back-turned Ford dealership owner; how about Walt Lazar (Chevrolet, "The super, super dealer"), who used to be seen "conducting" an off-screen orchestra playing his theme song?


Ollie Fretter

An iconic campaign of radio commercials belonged to Gene Merollis, another Chevy dealer. The ads consisted of brief jokes between a set-up man and "Mr. Merollis." Each spot ended the same way.

"That Merollis, what a great, great guyyyyyy!"

I heard those spots a billion times on the old CKLW-AM "Super 8" station back in the 1970s.

Today we have Elias, Gordie, and Bill Bonds and William Shatner, two actors pushing law firms.

After that, not so much when it comes to local pitchmen.

Then again, most of the products being sold anymore are either beer, prescription drugs or cars---all at the national level.

Commercials aren't as fun anymore.

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