People gripe about commercials. I do, too. But the practical side of me knows that they are what makes the wagon go, the wheels turn, the shows come on.

I consider myself something of a connoisseur of commercials. I recognize greatness in some of them.  Let’s take just a few examples.

I love Flo. She’s not very pretty (but she ain’t ugly), she’s just … ordinary, there in her white outfit. But she has exactly the right inflection in her voice, she accents just the right syllables. Progressive is lucky to have her.

Then there’s Ken. I don’t know him, have never used his company for anything, but he stumbled on a real gimmick with his “One Call, That’s All.”  It’s obvious that he can’t practice law anymore; he’s too busy making commercials. They, thankfully, make different ones, keeping his ad agency busy.

I’d wager that his staff of lawyers has quadrupled since he started his very (seemingly) amateurish ads. Other lawyers quickly caught on, but his is the real stuff.

The Gecko lizard is precious. The genius who created him surely is a billionaire by now. He deserves to be.

These are just some examples of commercials that I enjoy as much as the shows they sponsor. But we had some pretty good ads back in our day, too

Tom Mix was sponsored by Shredded Ralston: “Shredded Ralston for your breakfast starts your day off with a smile.”

Jack Armstrong was sponsored by Wheaties:  “Have you tried Wheaties? The best breakfast food in the land.”

I woke up every morning to: “The sun shines east, the sun shines west, but Griffin polish shines the best.”

Sterling beer sponsored Gene Nobles on WLAC, Nashville. I occasionally buy a six pack of Sterling just to thank them.

“More doctors actually recommend Philip Morris than any other cigarette.” And they had Johnny screeching, “Call for Philip Morreeese.”

Old Golds harrumphed: “We sell a treat, not a treatment.”

Ford had the best magazine ads. Near the end of WWII, they would run a picture of a crystal ball with the front end of a Ford faintly showing, with the words, “There’s a Ford in your Future.” They had another excellent ad that showed a beautiful (of course) girl in a Ford convertible (of course), with the words, “Watch the Fords go by.”

Packard did all right with its “Ask the man who owns one.” And Buick said, “When better cars are built, Buick will build them.”

Chevrolet had a great thing going with Dinah Shore in the early days of T.V. She sang with great gusto: “See the USA in your Chevrolet. America is asking you to call.”

T.V., radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards. Yes, billboards. I feel close to them because, during the worst part of the Depression, Daddy and Uncle Kent covered about a five-county area, working about one week out of every month, scraping off old posters and putting up new ones. It was back-breaking work, but anything to keep food on the table.

It was ironic, looking back on it: They were putting up these signs that portrayed the Good Life, while barely making enough to feed the family.

The Chesterfield poster showed a beautiful girl saying, “Blow some (smoke) my way.”  Now, the girls say, ‘Cough, cough, I cough, can’t stand it, oh me, etc., etc.’

Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note. He can be reached at