We get it. Making a list about the weirdest and funniest local commercials is doing exactly what advertisers want us to do, sharing their pieces of digital celluloid so more people will see them. In this day and age, when videos of cats juggling, skateboard accidents and unhinged rants from the My Pillow guy dominate our feeds, local commercial filmmakers have got to up the crazy in order to go viral.
We don't care. We still want to celebrate the gems that still make us laugh, intentionally or not.
1. The Texas Hammer
There's only one place to start when it comes to local commercials. The ads for the personal injury law firm of Jim Adler & Associates are stuck in the heads of every Dallas resident with a TV or Internet connection. Adler appears in every ad carrying his special sledgehammer IN A HOLSTER because, of course, he's "The Texas Hammer." Duh. And to his credit, the ads work because they always go viral and even once got an entire "And now..." segment on John Oliver's Last Week Tonight.
Adler speaks with the confidence of a coked up high school quarterback just before he takes the field; his personal iambic pentameter requires him to emphasize the word "hammer" regardless of the context. Practically all of his commercials feature him — and sometimes his son and law partner Bill Adler — screaming near the top of their lungs at semi-trucks who are too frightened to run him down or even be in his presence. We don't know what semi-trucks did to him to when he was a kid, and frankly, we never want to know.
2. The Texas Law Hawk
Adler has a competitive adversary who also thirsts so much for justice that he has to get it out of his system or he'll explode like the bus in Speed. Criminal defense attorney Bryan Wilson of Fort Worth calls himself "The Texas Law Hawk" and his commercials play like a PG-version of the film Alex had to watch to cleanse himself of his homicidal tendencies in A Clockwork Orange.
Wilson is a DFW fixture, and has even gained international fame thanks to a BBC News story that called him "the loudest lawyer in America" and an appearance in a Taco Bell commercial that ran during the Super Bowl. His commercials aren't just promises to get his clients ... actually, it's not quite clear what, or how he'll even do that. Unless, of course, part of the American judicial system involves yelling every opening and closing statement like a professional wrestler and taking a flamethrower to an ice sculpture of a hawk. Wilson calls himself a "hawk" but by torching one, is he saying he'll fight other legal hawks or is he expressing some kind of repressed self-hostility at his judicial spirit guide? Either way, it's one of the most hilarious cries for help we've ever seen.
3. Westway Ford's Joe Greed and The Ultimate Warrior
The late 1980s featured one of the strangest Dallas partnerships since the Texas Rangers partnered with Death by selling a literal stack of nachos to fans. Car-selling spokesman and oversized novelty sunglasses wearer Joe Greed somehow contracted WWF superstar wrestler The Ultimate Warrior to appear in a series of bizarre commercials for his Westway Ford dealership.
The commercials feature the pair testing out hypnosis, pulling off a jail break and begging customers to buy cars that have been stained in a sudden snail attack. This will make complete sense if you watch it all the way to the end (sort of). We won't be held responsible when your shoulders cave in on themselves during the big reveal.
4. Rodney D. Young's Young Amigos
Watching a local commercial try to capture the magic of a hit movie is like watching your dad dance to his favorite song when you're a kid. You can't tell if you want it to stop or study it closer so you'll hold the memory forever.
The local insurance agency tried to recreate The Three Amigos, the W.estern comedy starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short, with its own bedazzled sombrero wearing trio called (wait for it) The Young Amigos. Instead of using their showmanship talent to save a small village from a mad Mexican bandit, these Amigos use their knowledge of monetary threshold trends and the maximum assessment rate of the gross premium (it's .2 percent, by the way) to make high premiums die like dogs. Yeah, it doesn't stick the landing well but the attempt is hilarious.
5. The Trophy Nissan Rap
Every major advertising market in the country has at least one car dealership, worship center, notary public, gun store or actuarial firm that attempted to cash in on the rise of hip-hop in the '80s by doing a "rap" about what it can do for its customers.
Dallas had its own when Trophy Nissan rapped about its car dealership in a manner so cringeworthy it could make Jake Paul question the musical motives that birthed their now famous crowd-shouting jingle. There's no need to describe it because everyone who's been to a karaoke night on a weekday has seen some from of this already. Some drunk guy in a suit gets up and grabs the mic because the 12 whiskey sours inside him are telling him he can take on Eminem's "Rap God" if he just focuses hard enough and reduces his vision from double to single. It's basically that, but the rhythm is waaaaaay slower and all the lyrics are about cars and low prices.
6. Dallas Dodge's Skateboarding Bulldog
Animals using vehicles is a trend almost as old as television itself — and it never ages. It's still just as amusing to see that intrepid, water skiing squirrel, whether it's filler for a local news broadcast or a hallucination brought on by a lack of sleep.
Dallas Dodge employed this time honored tactic in one of its more recent ads. They found a bulldog that can skateboard! That's pretty much the whole hook and, to their credit, they don't see the need to add anymore to it. They didn't dress it up in a Hawaiian tourist outfit and make it look like its surfing or stick it in front of a green screen and make it look like he's competing with Tony Hawk in the X Games. It's just a skateboardin' bulldog followed by the usual car dealership pitch. If The Texas Hammer found this little guy or gal, he'd go overboard and make it fight a semi-truck, which would completely miss the point.
7. Debbie Georgatos' Dallas Republican Party Chair Ad
This one was hard to find and when you watch it, you'll realize why. Debbie Georgatos ran for the Dallas GOP Chair seat back in 2011 and the ad she chose to run veers back and forth from hilarious to horrifying, like a lost driver trying to pick an exit at the very last minute.
She starts by talking while not looking into the camera — even though there either two cameras in the room — with one camera filming her from every possible wrong angle except from the view of the ceiling. The first half (which you can see on Archive.org) features footage of a baby elephant getting sprayed with a hose and the creepiest parts of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times to illustrate ... those dang Democrats? We don't know. It looks like a last-minute student film for a graduate student with poor planning skills. Apparently, we're not alone in our impressions because Georgatos lost the election after the video grabbed the attention of the national media, including CNN's Anderson Cooper who put it on his "Ridiculist," and even global media like the Canadian Broadcasting Company's George Stroumboulopoulos.
8. Supermart Furniture
The 1212 Loop 12 guy is revered in Dallas media culture for more than just his catchy address. It appears to be a simple, locally produced commercial for a furniture store — but there are so many fascinating layers to peel off, like a tie-dyed onion.
For starters, the spokesman seems to be trying to make "gotta gotta gotta" his catchphrase when the address just overshadows it. His arm movements are strange and almost hypnotic; they only move at the elbow and seem like he's been instructed to do a robot dance instead of using public speaking skills, through some kind of bizarre night school mixup. Then, he just topples over and lets the mattresses he's hawking break his fall. He doesn't say anything about "dropping prices" or how deals are just "falling out of the sky." He just falls over while reciting his script. Did he do it on purpose? Was it an accident the editors just left in the final cut on purpose? Why are our heads hurting right now?
Bizarre is just the foundational description for this arts and craft supply store ad with "three convenient locations." Bewildering doesn't begin to describe it. In fact, there isn't a word in the English language that can conceptualize it altogether so we'll just make one up: "incredulumonescent."
The ad features composer John Williams' iconic Jaws theme playing in the background from beginning to end even though there are no sharks anywhere to be seen in any frame of the ad ... unless that's what they want you to think. Then there's the whole hook about how the store's prices are so low that "it hurts" and which apparently causes the ad's star to be impaled in the head with an oversized novelty pencil. Maybe this isn't an invitation to come to the store but a thin attempt at warning people to stay away — the way a hostage might try to communicate cryptically in a recorded ransom demand. Maybe he's really saying, "Stay away! For the love of God! Zak's is cursed! Not only will you be impaled with sharp arts and crafts that are as low as 90 percent off but you'll be required to pay for them before paramedics can take you out of the store!"
10. Fast Forward
There is nothing that sums up societal values in America in the 1980s better than this ad for a mall clothing store. Move over Wall Street.
The guy's a nerd and society shuns him for being an individual who values knowledge and enlightenment over flashy excess. The only thing that can save him is a store selling flashy excess in the form of poofy jackets, day-glo t-shirts and horizontally stitched sports jackets that can magically give him a cool car, a hot girlfriend and a blow-dried man-perm. This ad is one of the chief reasons we have anti-depressants now.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.