Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
By Chris Vespoli

We New Yorkers hold our heads up high because we’re proud of where we come from…and also so we don’t have to look at all the roaches, rats, and homeless people on the ground…but mainly because we’re proud. Our city has the best food, the best entertainment, and the best transportation (barring weekends, rush hour on the weekdays, and if you need to go from Brooklyn to Queens). However, there is one area in which we are severely lacking: our awkward, local New York TV commercials. I’ve spent my share of time unemployed as a freelance writer, and these are some of my favorites.


Binder & Binder

They may not be exclusive to New York, but Binder & Binder’s commercials are ever present on the City’s airwaves. The ads juxtapose film noir narration with Microsoft PowerPoint visuals in an attempt to hawk Binder & Binder’s social security disability case services. They all culminate in Charles Binder himself standing in front of a green screen, slinking into a suit jacket and putting on a Stetson like some kind of on-call cowboy lawyer…but where the fuck is the other Binder?


1-800 Victim2

A dancing squirrel is a great mascot for your chain restaurant or family fun park, but for your personal injury law firm? Not so much. You run the risk of people not taking you seriously (well, as seriously as one can take a law firm that advertises on daytime TV). But that’s a gamble 1-800 Victim2 is willing to take, and, my goodness, do they go all in with this classic bat shit crazy ad. Word to the wise: If you want to win a bogus injury case, do a better job of pretending to be hurt than the actors in this commercial did.


Bob’s Discount Furniture

If Bob didn’t sell his furniture at a discount, then maybe he’d have more money to spend on the animations in his commercials. The little budget he had must have run dry, because most of his ads today just feature him talking about furniture as he lounges on said furniture. But thanks to the Internet, we can enjoy (read: cringe over) older gems like these for eternity.


Dial 7 vs. Carmel

Ah, Dial 7 and Carmel — the Coke and Pepsi of New York black car companies. For years, these two have been trying to one-up each other with ‘so-bad-they’re-good’ commercials featuring horrendous lip-syncing and corny, but oh so catchy jingles that span musical genres ranging from awkwardly-terrible hip hop to awkwardly-terrible swing. These ads prove that the only thing worse than a chatty cabbie is one who’s trying to get his singing career off the ground.


Gallagher’s 2000

In what has to be the most high concept strip club commercial ever made, aliens fake mechanical problems with their flying saucer so that they can spend more time on Earth, specifically at Gallagher’s 2000. You’d think extraterrestrials would be more interested in infiltrating the White House or the Pentagon than a Long Island City titty bar, but hey, I’m no Carl Sagan. Also, why would they be attracted to our women? Wouldn’t our women look just as odd to them as their women would look to us? Or maybe we’d want to bang their women too? The universe — it’s full of mysteries!


Grand Prospect Hall

The orchestra swell. The tracking shots of marble staircases and chandeliers. The loveable, gaudy old couple promising through broken English to make your dreams come true. It can only be one thing — the gold standard by which all other awkward New York ads are judged — the Grand Prospect Hall commercial. There’s no telling how many Gypsy weddings this Brooklyn bastion of cheeseball elegance has played host to, but I’m guessing a lot.

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