Try to keep up here. In the early 1960’s there was a car dealer in the LA area named Chick Lambert — the guy you see here. He was big biz in car sales, and advertised all over local TV using his dog “Storm” as a live prop. Storm would follow his master around and jump on the hood of whatever car Lambert was pitching and lie there quietly during the spot. Then he’d follow him to the next car and so on and so on. Very cute.

Then Lambert’s biggest rival, Ralph Williams Ford, bought him out, but he kept Hearn on as his sales manager. Now they were both on the tube constantly. Williams had a totally different style – much more high pitched/high pressure/sleazy car salesman type – and both were a running joke in the LA and San Fran area, but between them they sold a lot of cars.  Here’s a very NSFW, never broadcast outtake from one of those early spots.

Still with me? Good. Now along comes a guy named Cal Worthington who owns a big Dodge dealership in Long Beach. He starts advertising heavily by mocking the Ralph Williams ads with his own ads featuring his dog “Spot”, who was never a dog, but some constantly-changing exotic animal instead. A tiger, a bear, even an elephant one time. It was actually pretty funny, and people started looking forward to the commercials just to see who the new “Spot” would be. Worthington also had a catchy jingle “Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal”, done to the tune of “Clap your hands”, which you have probably heard no matter where you live. The ads were on cheesy late-nite movies anyway, so they just added to the entertainment. 

Just a little slice of Americana.  Out of all the wacky local ad campaigns you might have seen since over the years, this is where it all started.

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