Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Normally I'd not buy a P.O.S. American car ... but these guys have the Trunk Monkey!!

Listening to the Neal Boortz show during lunch the other day, I heard an ad for a local car dealer. The spokesman for this dealer is UGA football announcer Larry Munson, who's an ancient, incoherent relic who should be put out to pasture*. But I digress ..

At the end of the ad, Larry throws in the tagline: "Home of the Trunk Monkey."

This, of course, piqued my curiosity. Perhaps the Trunk Monkey is some kind of chimp on display at the dealership? There's a truckstop on I-10 across the river from Baton Rouge that has tigers on display as a gimmick, so it's not too much of a stretch to get to Trunk Monkey.

But I was at a loss. Is there was supposed to be some kind of obvious context - "Honey, does Atlanta have a Trunk Monkey anywhere?" - in this tagline? If so, I wasn't getting it.

So I Googled "Trunk Monkey". Turns out the Trunk Monkey is part of a syndicated car-dealership commercial in which a guy is seen using the "Trunk Monkey" feature of his car to ward off some road rager who's harassing him.

To wit: The Trunk Monkey commercial. Man, that's some funny stuff. A monkey in the trunk? Whoda thunk it?

Unfortunately, there are a trio of factors which prevent me from catching on to "hilarious" local commercials. 1) I have DishNetwork, so I get no local commercial except on local channels; 2) I rarely watch local channels; 3) I watch commercials even less frequently than local channels because of my DishPVR 721.

So my exposure to "clever" things like the Trunk Monkey is fairly limited.

But seeing the clip online, and especially seeing versions from markets around the country, sparked a flashback to the glory days of "hilarious" "local" commercials that were, in fact, running in markets across the country with the branding dropped in for each client.

Jim Varney, of course, got his start as Ernest in the "Hey, Vern" commercials back in the 1980s. In Baton Rouge, Ernest was big into banking. City National Bank, I believe.

After Ernest ran its course, there was some group of commercials that was basically an Ernest ripoff featuring a guy in old-lady drag who called people "Sister." I don't remember too much about those commercials, except that the guy in drag looked a lot like my friend Dave.

I remember the first time I was somewhere other than Baton Rouge and saw an Ernest commercial. I wanted to call City National and tell them somebody was ripping them off until I realized Ernest might not be from Baton Rouge after all (when I got back home, I stopped looking for him at K&B).

But back to the Trunk Monkey.

My research shows that I'm truly behind the curve on the T.M. The ad, which was created by an agency in Oregon, has not only won awards and been written up in local markets where the ad is running, but it's even drawn the ire of PETA.

For those of you without broadband connections, I think PETA does a good job of summarizing the commercial:
R/West, an advertising agency in Portland, Oregon, has created a commercial called “Trunk Monkey” that portrays a chimpanzee stored in an automobile trunk and summoned out wielding a tire iron whenever the operator of the vehicle is harassed by another driver. The commercial is being sold to car dealerships all over the country.

Of course, if PETA hates it ... I'm a fan. Go Trunk Monkey!

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