Bert Wymann Ford with Linn Burton for Certain
Back in the day, advertisers used to buy up blocks of TV time late at night or early in the day on the weekends because the time was cheaper then. They would play a movie or two during their block of time and then run live commercials in the breaks. That’s right. Live commercials. One of the most famous pitch men in Chicago in the 70s and 80s was Linn Burton who worked for Bert Wymann Ford. Here is a classic Chicago TV commercial that first aired live on Saturday morning TV in Chicago September 20, 1980:
Harry Schmerler, Your Singing Ford Dealer
Harry Schmerler’s commercials were unforgettable. Harry Schmerler called himself the singing Ford dealer but he was awful at singing. Those old car guys all used to have some kind of a gimmick to set themselves apart and Harry was no different. Something else I have loved about seeing all of these old car commercials again is I love how huge the cars were back then and look how cheap they were too. Amazing. This classic Chicago TV commercial aired back in 1980:
There are commercials that are so bad they are unforgettable. Eagle Insurance fits that bill perfectly. It has been recognized as one of the worst commercials ever made and has been shown around the world in several different countries as an example of funny commercials gone wrong. This classic Chicago TV commercial first aired in 1993:
This is one of the most famous commercials ever run in Chicago. I know that Empire Carpet is national now and trust me, it irritated all of us here when they added the “800” to the beginning of their jingle. The Empire Carpet Man was played by Lynn Hauldren who believe it or not was the owner of the advertising company hired by Empire to do their commercials. Hauldren couldn’t find an actor that Empire owner Seymour Cohen would approve so Cohen asked Hauldren to play the role. Hauldren played the Empire Carpet Man in every Empire Carpet Commercial from 1977 to 2011. Hauldren died in 2011 but he left us a legacy of great classic Chicago TV commercials and one of the most recognized phone numbers in all of America. This classic Chicago TV commercial aired in 1986:
Victory Auto Wreckers
This is the most famous Chicago TV commercial ever aired. There is no one who has grown up in Chicago who doesn’t know this commercial. The commercial has been running on TV regularly since it first aired in 1985. It is estimated that this commercial appears on WGN and other Chicago stations 30 times per week. If that is true, then this commercial has aired nearly 43,000 times. That is incredible. There are two very famous addresses here in Chicago. The first is at 1060 W. Addison (Wrigley Field for those outside of Chicago) and the other, 710 East Green in Bensenville near O’Hare. This classic Chicago TV commercial first aired in 1985:
Ok there they are. 20 classic Chicago TV commercials. Before anyone loses their minds and tells me what an idiot I am for not putting one of their favorite commercials on this list, here are some that didn’t get on the list but were considered:
Indiana Beach. You know, the one with the song “there’s more than corn in Indiana”? I would have put this one on the list if there were any videos of the commercial out there. There is one commercial available but you are not allowed to put it on your own site. You can only go through YouTube. The folks at Indiana Beach block all use of their stuff.
Al Piemonte. He was on TV a lot but didn’t really have anything distinctive about him other than being on TV a lot. I could have put him on the list if we were doing 25 commercials. Since it was 20, something had to be cut.
Century Tile. Find me a commercial for them. I would have put them on the list.
That’s it. If I missed any, be sure to let me know. Remember, these are Chicago based commercials so don’t go telling me about some old McDonald’s commercial that you loved from 1976. We’ll do a list of national commercials some time down the road.
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