Local car dealership commercials that don't suck?
April 10, 2002 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Local car dealership commercials that don't suck? Okay, so, yes, every major metro region has its own crop of idiosyncratic and usually-low-budget car dealership commercials -- god bless Kramer the Magical Donkey -- but Portland, OR has this wonderful sort of Cinderella story guy named Scott Thomason. (more inside)
posted by cortex (14 comments total)
Scott Thomason used to be one of those shitty-commercial guys who had this ubiquitous tagline, "if you don't come see me today, I can't save you any money!" delivered in his mild-but-enthusiastic tenor after a bunch of Great Deals were mentioned.

But! Now Thomason has, I guess, just done really well over the years, and at some point the Thomason Auto Group decided it was time to spend more than the cost of a camcorder on their car commercials, so they started making, well, good ones. Like, really good, funny, strange, entertaining commercials, the kind that at times will dwarf the funny/compelling levels of the show the commercials have interrupted.

But! Then! It was sort of passed down the wire that Scott Thomason himself -- the "...I can't save you any money!" icon that had grown so weirdly dear to the Portland area viewing public (partly through the not-screaming-and-hooting-in-his-commercials quiet and likeable manner he presented on screen, partly because of his public closet-outing and resulting family fallout that had a certain sort of weird pathos to it, at least in my opinion) -- Scott had, for reasons having to do with corporate bullshit (like, because of some fiscal difficulties or something, people would suddenly shy away from the name and notion and especially face of Scott Thomason), Scott had become essentially unwanted by the marketing gurus at Thomason Auto Group because of whatever negative connotations they imagined Scott's face to have, and he was thus to be seperated from the commercials, as in no more grinning, mild Scott Thomason in Thomason Auto Group commercials ever.

This, to me, was horrible news; Angela too. A local icon, being vamoosed by his own company. Sheesh.

But! He seems not to have dissappeared at all. In fact!

Lately, they've started a hugely, insanely ambitious-themed meta-commercial campaign of commercials PROMINENTLY FEATURING SCOTT, all based around the idea that, at some point several months from now (there is, in fact, a countdown attached to the various commercials, as in blah blah blah 218 days until the Best Auto Dealership Commercial Of All Time), We of the Portland Area will be treated to something very close to "The Best Auto Dealership Commercial Ever" in big, bold Star Wars-type credits.

And there have been, so far in this metacampaign, several commercials aside from the original Star Wars texted spot, showing preproduction stuff going on, including a couple things featuring the Best Commercial's director, some nutjob Hollywood character played by Kids In The Hall alum Kevin The One With Black Curly Hair. Also, Tonya Harding has shown up. And, well, it's all just freaking great.

So where's the link? Right here!

That being a link to their (T.A.G.'s) archive of more than a dozen of their commercials, in .mpg format, for public viewing. Go Watch Them. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any site of the new commercials in the meta-campaign, but we'll see what happens there.
posted by cortex at 6:47 PM on April 10, 2002

Of course, Scott is not universally liked by Portland residents. Still, there are those who seem to agree with me and get paid to report as much, so I don't feel like a weird obsessive geek. As much.
posted by cortex at 6:51 PM on April 10, 2002

Those are indeed some of the best local car dealership commercials out there. Thanks!
posted by riffola at 7:05 PM on April 10, 2002

Their agency, Nerve, reminds me of Weiden + Kennedy when they were creative. I particularly like the teaching sperm to drive spot (4.7mb quicktime)
posted by dchase at 7:38 PM on April 10, 2002

You fools! No dealer, local or otherwise, can top Cal Worthington and his dog Spot!
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:47 PM on April 10, 2002

I moved out of the Portland TV market a while back, when Thomason was still doing his "If you don't come see me ..." ads (the original tagline was "If you don't come see me tomorrow, I can't save you any money," which I guess wasn't immediate enough, or else he started running his ads earlier in the day). I'm still in Oregon, but far enough away that I didn't know all the background that Cortex presents so nicely here. Very interesting stuff, and good for Scott.

Portland is also the home of an auto dealer named Ron Tonkin, who back when Honda first started making cars ran a commercial in which he alleged that people confused Hondas with Mercedes Benzes. This was back when Honda cars looked more like AMC Gremlins than the standard-issue sedans they are today. It was to laugh.

Down here in Southern Oregon, we have Airport Chevrolet, which runs so-bad-they're-good commercials featuring testimonials from plain-folks types, many of whom appear to have completed junior high school. My favorite: "They treated us real nice. They brought us coffee -- we didn't even have to pay for it!"
posted by diddlegnome at 8:15 PM on April 10, 2002

There are no good local auto commercials in Atlanta. In fact, I would venture to say that the Maxie Price ("Do the Maxie Swing!") commercials are the most heinous in the southeast, if not the nation.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:17 PM on April 10, 2002

Hrm. The commercials I've seen so far seem pretty dull.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 PM on April 10, 2002

I really like the new Thomason ads. That there last set was starting to creep me out, mostly because of the alleged circumstances of his divorce (his wife came home early one day and discovered him in bed with an inappropriately wrapped 1985 vintage boy treat) which led to the massacre of his catchphrase: If you don't come on me today, I can't give you any money.

Tidbit on the latest ads: Tonya Harding comes out of Clackamas Town Center (the rink she trains at when she isn't boxing) and is approached by the assistant of Santo (Santo being the KITH Kevin) who asks her to be in the Greatest Car Commercial Of All Time. She says (with a straight face, no less) "Sorry, I don't do cheesy car commercials" (she said, standing in the middle of a cheesy car commercial) and the asst. asks her again, "we have llamas! And we'd like you to show your stuff for us" and Tonya gets in her truck and says "I'm sorry...I would, but I'm afraid it would ruin my image" It is to laugh, indeed.

I'm getting a kick out of the new ads. It's nice to see that Scott has gotten at least mildly self-aware.

They only archive for a year, but Willamette Week has been known to run stories about Thomason and his dealerships. WW is our local alt.paper, a free pub that runs local artist Callahan who was discussed here recently but of course I can't find it. IIRC, there were a number of complaints by workers of sexual harassment, and at one point some issues raised about Scott himself. It sounded as though when his dealerships were purchased, the company who owned them decided he was too much of a liability and yet he has made a triumphant comeback in the new ads. I like this meta-campaign. I'm waiting to see this ad, if only because KITH Kevin was (however marginally) involved.

So when's PDX having their own MetaFest? Sounds as though we have more than one local...
posted by verso at 11:56 PM on April 10, 2002

There is an ad running here in North Florida that is IMHO very silly for a car dealer. It's kind of an out take type of situation where the dealer tries to get through his lines but he keeps messing them up and then he curses. Of course he is bleeped but it still suprises me. A F**k here and a S**t there. I really don't think it is good a commercial for this area unless he is only going for the college market.
posted by bunktone at 4:45 AM on April 11, 2002

They only archive for a year, but Willamette Week has been known to run stories about Thomason and his dealerships.

Here was the/a big story they did a couple of years ago. Which I'm vaguely hesitant to post, because it's probably better researched than my fanboyish ranting above. Ah, well. :)
posted by cortex at 10:03 AM on April 11, 2002

I assume the Ron Thomason "love from the family" Christmas commercial?

It has been a decade since I lived in the area (I grew up in Vancouver). Is Tom "Free is a Very Good Price" Peterson still around? (And the story of his business life is pretty interesting as well).

One Thomason commercial I remember was actually up in Seattle. Apparently there was an attempt to expand up there and it didn't go well. I learned this when they ran a radio commercial that essentially went:

"Ok, you did it! You've run us out of town. We're pulling up stakes and going back to Portland with our tails between our legs! So we have a lot of cars to sell, and we'll sell them cheap!" (paraphrased, but the tone is accurate)
posted by obfusciatrist at 11:39 AM on April 11, 2002

Ah, Tom Peterson. Yes, he's still around, but sadly, he no longer offers you the Tom Peterson Haircut (tm) if you buy a television from him.

It's been reorganized, he had to go under and now they are Tom Peterson's And Gloria's Too! But it's still him.

Too bad you can't still get those alarm clocks. Wake up! Wake up to a happy day!
posted by verso at 5:12 PM on April 11, 2002

Just to prove how alien NYC is, I can't think of any candidate for this thread: television is too expensive.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:30 PM on April 11, 2002

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