|Tire-Tossing Little Old Lady The Latest Example of Pitchman Turned Pop Culture Icon|
One flying tire, a broken glass window, and a little old lady have earned their place in TV commercial history. Joining the ranks of Charmin's Mr. Whipple, Wendy's affable founder Dave Thomas and the Lonely Maytag Repairman, is the little old lady from the Discount Tire ad, which has just earned the company a place in Guinness World Records(TM) as the Longest Running TV Commercial. The new entry and new category are featured in the recently released Guinness World Records(TM) 2005 Special 50th Anniversary Edition Book on sale at book stores nationwide with its eye-catching, gold-hologram cover.
The little old lady was made famous by throwing a tire through the glass storefront of a Discount Tire store back in 1975, as part of Discount Tire's 10-second ad, which includes these words: "If ever you're not satisfied with one of our tires, please feel free to bring it back. Thank you, Discount Tire Company." The shattered glass from the impact then forms the words, "Discount Tire Company." Known as the "Thank You" ad, it has been so well received by the public that the company has aired it continuously in its original format for more than 29 years. The simple, short-but-sweet ad was also named "The World's Best Broadcasting Advertisement" by the Hollywood Radio and Television Society in 1976.
Robert Natkin Advertising of Scottsdale, Ariz., was called in to develop a TV ad campaign to highlight Discount Tire's customer satisfaction philosophy. The film crew gathered in an Arizona store parking lot one Sunday, ready to have the 66-year-old woman who played the little old lady throw the tire through the window. Unfortunately, it turned out that the tire was too heavy for her to toss, so a small man dressed in little old lady clothing stood in for her to make the throw. The window failed to break on the first pitch, and although the second attempt shattered the glass, the tire did not directly strike the Discount Tire logo, as desired. With the window replaced, the third toss proved to be the charm.
Discount Tire has come a long way from the days when it had to scrape together the funds to produce this simple 10-second spot. In fact, the company's humble beginnings are the classic rags-to-riches American story, starting with one man, one small storefront, and an inventory consisting of two new tires and four retreads. Discount Tire now has more than 560 stores and 9,000 employees and is ranked number 171 on Forbes' 500 Private Companies list.
While the company produces new ads on a regular basis, the "Thank you" ad is kept in the rotation due to its overwhelming popularity and the continual influx of emails, calls and letters from viewers who enjoy the ad.
"We never expected such longevity from this ad when it first began," said Discount Tire Chairman and Founder Bruce Halle. "We were a small company with a modest budget and a 10-second ad was all we could do. Since then we have been fortunate to continue growing, but this ad still captures the philosophy of what this company is all about."
"Guinness World Records has been chronicling facts and feats for the past 50 years," said Alistair Richards, COO of Guinness World Records. "We are proud to recognize Discount Tire on their record-breaking achievement and feature them in our commemorative 2005 50th Anniversary Edition."
The one question frequently asked: Did anyone ever really throw a tire back through a Discount Tire store window?
"Believe it or not, there has only been one instance in the past 29 years," said Sandi Hveem, director of corporate and community development. In 1986, one tire buyer, frustrated after getting two flat tires on his wife's car within a week, heaved the deflated tire through a large glass window of a Discount Tire store in Michigan, causing $500 in damage.
Other Advertising Icons
Other television commercial icons recognized by Guinness World Records(TM) include:
-- Highest television advertising rate: Last episode of "Friends" on May 6, 2004 ($2 million per 30-second spot)
-- Most expensive television ad: Apple Macintosh ad during the 1994 Super Bowl XVII on January 22, 1984 ($1 million to show and $600,000 to produce)
-- Most awards won by a TV ad: The Levi "Drugstore" 501 jeans TV ad (33 awards in 1995, including a Grand Clio and Lion D'Or)
-- Highest fee per minute for an actor in a TV ad: Nicole Kidman for Chanel No. 5 in December 2003 ($3.71 million, or $928,800 per minute)
-- Earliest public TV ad: Ad for a Bulova watch (June 27, 1941, on NBC's WNBT station in New York)
-- World's shortest television commercial: Commercial for MuchMusic, a Canadian video and music channel (lasts for 1/60 of a second)
-- Earliest television sponsor: Gillette for a boxing match between Joe Louis and Billy Conn in New York City (June 19, 1946)
Longest-Enduring Advertising Icons, According to tvacres.com
-- Mr. Clean, 1958
-- Snap, Crackle and Pop, 1928
-- Jolly Green Giant, 1925
Public Reaction to Ad and Guinness World Record in Phoenix
"Why is it that whenever I try to return something this way, I get arrested?" said Discount Tire bystander Steve Williams, when asked about his reaction to the ad and its Guinness World Record(TM).
"The Discount Tire ad -- I love it!" said Lucy Bernhardt. "That ad is just darling -- it's a classic."
"I always wondered if the little old lady was a man in drag," said Jim Beuthler. "I couldn't figure out how that lady could be strong enough to throw a tire through that window."
About Discount Tire
Founded in 1960, Discount Tire Co. is the world's largest independent tire and wheel retailer. The company, which uses the name America's Tire Co. in some states, currently has 560 stores nationwide.
For more information on Discount Tire Co., visit www.discounttire.com. The commercial can be viewed at the company's website.
About Guinness World Records:
Guinness World Records is the universally recognized authority on record-breaking achievement. First published in 1955, the annual Guinness World Records book is published in more than 100 countries and 20 languages and is one of the highest-selling copyrighted books of all time. In 2003 Guinness World Records sold its 100 millionth copy joining an elite publishing group including the Bible and the Koran. Guinness World Records is published by Hit Entertainment PLC, a fully integrated global studio with divisions in the UK, U.S., Canada, Germany and Japan, including broadcast production and distribution, video and audio sales, consumer products licensing, and marketing.