21 Classic Television Ads That Locals Will Always Remember - Atlas Obscura

21 Classic Television Ads That Locals Will Always Remember

No matter where you grew up, odds are there’s a TV spot that defined your metro area.

Those insane local commercials that you just can't forget can become an important part of a city's culture.
Those insane local commercials that you just can’t forget can become an important part of a city’s culture. Ajeet Mestry/Public Domain

Anyone who grew up in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, or even the ’00s can attest to the weird staying power of televised local ads. Before entertainment and advertising went online, everyone in a given area was subjected to the same TV ads, all the time. It’s little wonder that the wild characters, catchy jingles, and odd comedy bits put together by furniture warehouses and used car dealers had a way of worming their way into the local culture. Over in the Atlas Obscura Community forums, we asked our readers to tell us about the most unforgettable local ads from their area, and after reviewing them all, we’ve never wanted to buy a sofa set more in our lives.

From New York’s infamous consumer electronics madman Crazy Eddie, to British Columbia’s Dodd Furniture Company and their low-budget pop culture riffs, all of these old-school ads ultimately became part of the local social fabric. Many of the businesses behind them have long since disappeared, but the impact of their TV spots live on.

Take a look at some of our favorite reader (and staff!) submissions below, and if you have an unforgettable local advertisement of your own that you’d like to share, head over to our Community forums and tell us about it!


Becky’s Carpet & Tile

St. Louis, Missouri

“I think anyone who spent time near St. Louis in the ’80s and ’90s will remember Becky, the Queen of Carpets and Wanda, the Princess of Tile.” tyler


Crazy Gideon’s

Los Angeles, California

“Crazy Gideon commercials were such an assault on the senses that they lapse into punk rock video art. Between the accent of unknown origin and the crappy sound mixing, it’s just an incomprehensible man screaming at you for 30 seconds. When Crazy Gideon’s closed, I stopped watching TV.” tralfamadore



Easterns Automotive Group

Maryland & D.C.

“Numerous people from Baltimore have told me about this.” — tipareth2003


The House of Guitars

Rochester, New York

“Late night weekend commercials featured lots of fast cuts, fan participation, and repetitive catch phrases (at Easter, ‘I’m the real Easter Bunny… hop hop,’ at Christmas, ‘Don’t give baby an ugly sweater’). Brothers Bruce and Armand Schaubroeck started selling records in the mi-1960s, but opened their huge, disorganized store full of guitars, music, albums, CDs, posters, and all things rock & roll in 1974. They are still there to this day.” asaucygal


Kemp Mill Records

Temple Hills, Maryland

‘“Kemp Mill Records breaks its own records!’ Everyone I grew up with in the Maryland suburbs of D.C. in the 1970s and ‘80s remembers these ads. Also, remember… records?”Philip_Shane


Gallery Furniture

Atlanta, Georgia

“Donna and the Wolfman were a father/daughter duo in the Atlanta area with really memorable commercials in the ’80s. Their furniture stores are still around!” mmstrick


Worthington Dealership Group

California & Alaska

“Does anyone remember Cal Worthington and ‘his dog Spot?’ Each ad featured Mr. Worthington in a white cowboy hat walking through his car dealership with a different animal that was very definitely not a dog. I remember ones where he was riding a cow, carrying a parrot, I think one with a cheetah or a tiger or some other kind of big cat.” ArkyTrojan


Piel’s Beer

New York City

“Long before digital anything, color TV, or computer graphics, perhaps one of the most iconic TV ad campaigns of all time burst forth in the 1950s on small screen black and white VHF sets all over the five boroughs of New York City. At least three of the seven then available TV networks showed them. I speak of course of Burt and Harry Piels. Simple black-and-white line-drawing animation for Piels Beer, written by and voiced by Bob and Ray, stars of radio comedy, and famous for their deadpan, quirky, and totally hilarious skits. Piels was a local NY beer brewed in Staten Island with nothing to recommend it, and a small market share. With the introduction of Burt and Harry circa 1952, sales took off. The brewery eventually folded and is unremembered, but Burt and Harry went into the record books.” wilkeskennedy


Eat ‘n Park

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“It’s not Christmas season here until this starts playing.” thomasharper


Dodd’s Furniture and Mattress

British Columbia, Canada

“The ones that immediately came to mind are Dodd’s Furniture and Mattress ads with Gordy Dodd (catchphrase, ‘I won’t be undersold’). He dressed up like various movie characters and often involved his staff as well.” LeighE


Newmark & Lewis

New York City

“Kinda creepy looking back at this, LOL!” MarilynR


Jhoon Rhee Tae Kwon Do

Washington D.C.

“Anyone who grew up in the D.C. metro area in the ’80s will remember the Jhoon Rhee ad and that damn jingle.” vgwatson


BC Clark Jewelers

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“Oklahomans everywhere know that the Christmas season has really begun when they hear/see this ad. Just start singing it in Oklahoma. I promise people will sing along.” Kmmokc


Master Fabricators

Augusta, Georgia

“Everyone who grew up in the Augusta, Georgia area in the ’80s is forever haunted by the Master Fabricators jingle, with the monkey riding in one of those quarter machine cars. ‘You’ll always get the shaft–the drive shaft–at Master Fabricators!’” offwithyourtv


Frankie & Johnnie’s Furniture

New Orleans, Louisiana

“New Orleans has a million of these. […] Possibly the best was the Frankie and Johnny’s ‘special man.’” kermitforg


Fugazy Continental Limousine

New York City

“New Yorkers will no doubt remember the Fugazy Continental Limousine company, which was so successful at one point that it got Bob Hope to do the voiceover for its ads. After the company imploded amidst fraud allegations, its name became a local slang term for anything scammy or fraudulent.” lindacantoni


Crazy Eddie’s

New York City

“Does anyone remember Crazy Eddie in New York City? He was loud and obnoxious and he sold more goods that anyone else. His ads really made him sales and he was a subject in classes at NYU.” photoken7


Schweig-Engel Furniture and Appliances

St. Louis, Missouri

“So many good local St. Louis commercials.” Caviglia



Norton Furniture

Cleveland, Ohio

“Cleveland, Ohio, has a couple gems, but I think my favorites are the Marc Norton furniture commercials. You can look at any number of them and they are consistently weird, played at night, and always feature the tagline: ‘If you can’t get credit in my store, you can’t get credit anywhere. My name is Marc, and you can count on it!’” mathias787


Gallery Furniture

Houston, Texas

“My choice was for Gallery Furniture, out of Houston, Texas. Jim McIngvale has been an institution in this city since the 1980s.” cearared


Roll N Roaster

Brooklyn, New York

“Atlas Obscura’s HQ is in Brooklyn and no one’s mentioned Roll ‘n Roaster?! I always show people this ad whenever I’m trying to convince them why it’s the greatest trash food temple. They sell roast beef sandwiches, creamed corn fritters and champagne, yo.” lampbane

Responses have been condensed and edited for length and clarity.