A new website celebrates the spirit of quirky TV commercials produced by local businesses.
Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal have made an unlikely Internet sensation out of an Alabama-based reseller of used mobile homes. So imagine what they could do for your business. The filmmakers are the brains behind ilovelocalcommercials.com, a showcase of their quirky Web ads made in the tradition of low-budget local TV ads. "We've always had a love for local commercials," says McLaughlin. "It's usually the ones that are ill conceived and start off totally in the wrong direction that people really remember." Underwritten by MicroBilt, a company that does background checks on prospective employees, McLaughlin and Neal are hitting the road, producing free Web ads for local businesses that apply on their website. Check out the videos online, and look closely for Rhett and Link cameos. Here's a preview of our favorites.
Salt Lake Community college Barbering andCosmetology Schoo Salt Lake City
The selling point: haircuts for $2. The catch: Patrons have to be willing to serve as guinea pigs for this community college's unlicensed cosmetology students. But fear not, as one cheerful student explains,
"Your hairdo is only limited by your imagination…and how far along we are in the semester."
Cullman Liquidation Cullman, Alabama
A YouTube favorite with nearly a million views, this oddly bleak saga of a commercial is for a business that refurbishes and sells used mobile homes. Owner Robert Lee frankly doesn't care if you buy one of his homes; he's got bigger problems to worry about:
"A bouncer in Birmingham hit me in the face with a crescent wrench five times. And my wife's boyfriend broke my jaw with a fence post. So if you don't buy a trailer from me, it ain't gonna hurt my feelings."
Ray's Midbell Music Sioux City, Iowa
Playing in the high school band isn't always easy. Sure, the jocks may get all the girls, but in this spot, Ray's employees offer up a musical ode to the geekier aspects of being in the band. As a pair of Ray's instrument-wielding employees intones,
"You may have to go to the prom alone, but that's a sacrifice worth making to play the sousaphone."
TDM Auto Sales High Point, North Carolina
"Sometimes we show up at a business, and we're just struck by inspiration," says McLaughlin. The inspiration behind this used-car-lot commercial was the dealership's salesman Rudy, a former Cuban gynecologist and refugee turned American auto salesman. Rudy's pitch:
"I want to liberate this Chevy Impala from the car lot. I need to freedomize this Ford Explorer."
Staff editor KASEY WEHRUM has written for Inc. magazine on subjects ranging from the businesses behind professional bull riding to gadget inventor and father of the infomercial, Ron Popeil. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Worth, Budget Travel, and on MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn.