Vern Fonk
January 18, 2006 9:47 PM   Subscribe

Vern Fonk wants to sell you insurance. Seattlites have been enjoying his quirky late night TV advertisements for years. This latest one had me spitting chardonnay out my nose [embedded video].
posted by Slarty Bartfast (36 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ha! When I first moved to Seattle and saw this guy, I thought, "Who the hell is this jackass?" Years later the inanity of it all grew on me...I'll say it now proudly: I LOVE YOU, VERN FONK!
posted by zardoz at 10:01 PM on January 18, 2006

I moved to the area last year (right around the corner from the Kirkland Vern Fonk, actually), and apparently I'm still in the "thinks it inane" stage.
posted by Fontbone at 10:10 PM on January 18, 2006

Oh my god. He looks so satisfied.
posted by The Monkey at 10:15 PM on January 18, 2006

GAH! Ah! Not safe....not safe for people with sensitive skin.
posted by phyrewerx at 10:23 PM on January 18, 2006

local television commercials are, perhaps, one of the few remaining regional art forms still thriving in America. My tawdry half-decade spent in Baltimore was made palatable by only one man, Scott Donahoo of Foreign Motors Suzuki, Kia, Hyundai (I tried to find some online vids of his commercials, but posterity hasn't caught up with him yet, as a substitute offering, here's a clip of Baltimore's Dan Deacon appearing on the Savannah NBC affiliate's morning show - it's embedded, and the initial banter with the host is awful, but it's worth it once he starts performing, and another good example of the sublime awesomeness of local teevee).
posted by Lee Marvin at 10:32 PM on January 18, 2006

My favorite St. Louis advertising joy is Becky, queen of carpet. Wish I could get a shot of her flying by the arch on her rug. Ah well.
posted by luftmensch at 11:12 PM on January 18, 2006

Puns are the lowest form of advertising. Way to lower the bar Vern.
posted by DonnieSticks at 11:16 PM on January 18, 2006

Dodd's Furniture...

and the Captain "Aye aye, and good bye!"
posted by joelf at 11:24 PM on January 18, 2006

luftmensch: how could you forget the dirt cheap chicken and mister happycrack?!?

vern is awesome.
posted by slogger at 11:39 PM on January 18, 2006

posted by jimmythefish at 11:48 PM on January 18, 2006

Maybe all ads in Seattle are utter shit, but that was rubbish. Now the Peter Kay ads for John Smiths, now that's funny.
posted by salmacis at 12:34 AM on January 19, 2006

(Oh gods, I now remember Becky, Queen of Carpet from back when I lived in St. Louis for a year...)
posted by neckro23 at 12:36 AM on January 19, 2006

my vern fonk story:

i was at a critters buggin show, long long ago. and the opening band, a hippy band, sitting on the stage floor x-legged, chanting.. it was aweful.. lasted 15min
when all of a sudden, they all jump up, rip off thier robes and start singing a vern fonked version of YMCA.

they were throwing vern fonk pens, hard. one hit me in the face. now i'm deformed. (tru story)
posted by jdg at 12:47 AM on January 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

I can't find an online clip for it, but the funniest ad I've seen in a long while was put out by the Australian Milk industry. In an attempt to 'make milk more sexy', they put out a series of suggestive ads, all of which were pretty good, but the best had to be:

Husband walks into kitchen where wife is doing something at sink. Husband goes to fridge, gets bottle of milk, wanders over to kitchen counter and starts pouring milk into glass. Says, in an amazed tone: "You know what I heard today? Apparently our milkman has been to bed with every wife in our street except one!"

Husband gives wife a 'thanks for staying faithful' smile and pat on the arm and begins to drink milk.

Wife, squinting out window, says: "Huh. Must be that frigid bitch at number 11."

Husband sprays milk all over kitchen.

Slogan: "Milk. Are you getting enough?"

Don't know if it translates into text anywhere nearly as effectively as the ad itself.
posted by planetthoughtful at 1:19 AM on January 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

I moved to Seattle about a year and a half ago. The first Vern Fonk ad I saw (I think the Subway Spoof) I felt like some one peed in my shoes and I had to put them on anyway.

Vern Fonk has possible made some of the worst commercials that I have ever seen. However, I can't imagine a world without those commercials.

We Seattle people are a pretty cynical bunch. However, Vern Fonk is one of the few mascots we stand behind. Screw the Space Needle, we have Vern Fonk and pre-historic six gilled sharks in the Pugent Sound.
posted by dylanSnow at 3:46 AM on January 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ha, check out the "Vern Fonk Tunes" on the website.

Insurance ad campaigns are usually so bland and boring; the Vern Fonk commercials are incredibly goofy, but they're a lot more fun than typical insurance ads. The guy has no shame and I think a lot of us love him for it.
posted by litlnemo at 4:00 AM on January 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry, but that was just a lame rip off of a scene from the HORRIBLE John Candy film, "Uncle Buck". Well, more or less.
posted by neek at 4:26 AM on January 19, 2006

Ahh, yes, Becky Queen Of Carpets. She's pretty good, but....

This is a test. This is a test of your childhood.

What word follows the following number:

posted by eriko at 5:17 AM on January 19, 2006


(Oh God.)
posted by kalimac at 5:26 AM on January 19, 2006

What about...
87 76?
posted by luftmensch at 5:37 AM on January 19, 2006

What word follows the following number:


Ah, WGN, deliverer of geographically inaccurate information to much of the US. My sister once was delighted because Bozo had said there was no school because of snow. We lived outside Tampa at the time. There was... disappointment.

NAtional 2-9000, NAtional 2-9.... THOUSAND.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:30 AM on January 19, 2006

In the Canadian maritimes during the 90s you'd have been lucky to see a spot from Ritchie's Carpet Warehouse.

The one I distinctly remember had the owner dressed as a german World War I soldier (think Kaiser Wilhelm) and yelling the jingle:

"Krauts, Krauts, Krauts, Come on down to Ritchie's Carpet Warehouse"
posted by toftflin at 6:57 AM on January 19, 2006

planetthoughtful: Well done, hee hee!
posted by alumshubby at 7:28 AM on January 19, 2006

Eriko, the Empire commercials are still on.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:47 AM on January 19, 2006

Did y'all know that Naughty Don Rogers was constantly "going mad with money"?

Car salesman, dressed like an idiot, wearing a stupid hat, screaming his freaking ass off, throwing handfuls of money at the camera.

He was an absolute institution out my way. There is only one mention of him on the 'net if you do a standard Google search.

RIP Naughty.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:48 AM on January 19, 2006

Now the Peter Kay ads for John Smiths, now that's funny. True, but apples and oranges. Those are ads by a real agency for wide distribution. These are local productions done on the cheap. And they're designed for the cumulative effect - inane ad after inane ad.
posted by QuietDesperation at 8:32 AM on January 19, 2006

Growing up in the greater Seattle area (olympia wa) I remember a few classic gems... In fact, I think the PNW in the 80s was home to some uniquely goofy ads.

There was Cal Worthington, dressed up like a cowboy, and his dog "spot" (a bengal tiger if I remember correctly)

The weird thing was that as I remember, Cal got kinda run out of town in the late eighties, something about scamming poor folks on in-house financing.

Then, in the late 90's I was down in LA with my then girlfriend who was from there, and there's Cal Freakin' Worthington, still doing the tiger schtick. Freaked me right out.

There were the Russ Dunmeyer commercials with the stupid bouncing ball

"Russ-Dun-Meyer, Russ-Dun-Meyer, bum bum"
you hadda be there

Then, the Rainier Beer commercials of my youth with UW Huskie football players running around in giant fiberglass beer bottles - (think, beer bottles with legs)

And then Sea Galley - a local seafood chain, with their kick lines of dancing girls with styrofoam crab leg warmers

"We've got crab legs! Sea Galley!"

Or what about, was it Jack's Appliance? Dude was some ex 70's porn looking guy with a moustache and always wearing a red satin bomber jacket, and his wife was always hitting him in the face with cream pies...

Of course, we also had that abomination known as Almost LIve - think local version of late eighties SNL, and later, Bill Nye the Science Guy...

Wow. Local TV was AWFUL.
posted by stenseng at 9:16 AM on January 19, 2006

The linked ad is terrible, atrocious even. It is not funny, nor witty, nor creative. Certainly not entertaining. It is simply dumb.

But, after seeing some posts I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and try some of the other ads on his site.

A few were genuinely grin-inducing. They were still stupid, but entertaining. I recommend trying "Slapped Around" and "Quote Machine".

Those are examples of local commercials that should be saved for posterity.

On preview: Almost Live was on Comedy Central back in the day. It was rather entertaining. I considered it very high quality to be a local production.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:25 AM on January 19, 2006

you gotta remember, that show was on for what seemed like ten years or more - the comedy central thing was near the end as I remember...

it was pretty gawdawful for a long long time.

Except the Lame List - they got a bunch of proto grunge rockers to rate various things as LAME or not, and then do a lot of headbanging and hair swishing...

"What's Weak, This Week"
posted by stenseng at 9:33 AM on January 19, 2006

Then, the Rainier Beer commercials of my youth with UW Huskie football players running around in giant fiberglass beer bottles - (think, beer bottles with legs)

Not TV, but did anyone see that billboard that was up for like a week last year as you entered Fremont (Seattle)? It was for Rainier and said "Don't let what happened to Fremont happen to your Beer"

[local Seattle AdvertisingFilter]
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:33 AM on January 19, 2006

All local commericals are mind-blowingly awful. The point is that they run so often, unchanged, that their poor taste becomes a touchstone. It's called kitsch, and people like it.

To wit, I will now make the day of someone who grew up in Houston:

If your transmission's got you down
And your motor falls apart,
Just bring it down to Thunderbolt;
You don't need a brand new car!
We still believe in value
And we pass it on to you.
At Thunderbolt we fix it right
And we guarantee it, too.
We put the YEEEEE-HAW
Back in your motor and transmission.

posted by deadfather at 10:41 AM on January 19, 2006

Here's a funny article about the guy in the Fonk ads from Seattlest.
posted by elizat at 11:34 AM on January 19, 2006

"chardonnay?" You yuppie. you're supposed to spew Rainier Ice out yer nose.

The ads were purposely stupid ads. Why? Cheap to make, and man, they stick in your head.
posted by drstein at 11:41 AM on January 19, 2006

stenseng - I remember the Cal Worthington TV spots... His dog, Spot wasn't just a tiger. Oh! And I see he's been Wiki'd too! I know there was a short-lived band called His Dog Spot, but I can't find any reference to them after a quick search.
Basically, when earworms go unchecked, terrible and amazing things can happen!
posted by Zack_Replica at 4:40 PM on January 19, 2006

I hate to break it to you guys, but that's not actually Vern, it's just an actor. Broke my heart when I learned it, I love those wacky commercials.
posted by bizwank at 11:18 PM on January 19, 2006

According to the Seattlest article linked above, he's an insurance agent at one of the Fonk locations, not exactly an "actor."

The business has been around for 50+ years, so if he was actually Vern Fonk, he'd have to be a descendant of the original. But apparently, he's just a guy who works for VF and is a total ham. Or something.
posted by litlnemo at 11:22 PM on January 19, 2006

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