NYC’s most venerable (or annoying?) TV commercial


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You bet, I was disappointed by the end of the Yankees’ loss to Toronto on Sept. 15. The Blue Jays, whom the Yankees had beaten 13 of 17 games this year up til then, had led the good guys, 8-1, after six innings. The Bronx Bombers lived up to their nickname by hitting three home runs, including a grand slam, in their half of the seventh inning. But the Yankees ran out of gas and dropped an exciting 8-7 contest.

Adding insult to insult, immediately after the Yankees made their final out, the 212-666-6666 commercial for Carmel cars came on the tube. It is noteworthy because, for my two cents, this is the most venerable and annoying (and, OK, catchy) jingle around. And it has been around for quite some time.

I first heard this commercial in 1999. I cringed at it in the 20th century and I’m shuddering now.

I’m partially kidding, of course. Who among us shouldn’t respect the staying power of a commercial that has aired over two centuries and lasted for nearly two decades?

You know the one. A bunch of cheerful men and women sing 666-6666 as a young woman is escorted to her (Carmel) car. Can you think of any TV spot that has aired for this long, without changing a note? I can’t.

How venerable is it? The commercial has encompassed four presidential administrations. It aired before Y2K (remember that fuss?). Eli Manning was playing high school football at the time. Mike Bloomberg was still contemplating a run at City Hall. Rudy Giuliani was the mayor of New York — and he was contemplating running for a third term. The unimaginable horror of 9/11 was two years away.

In a delicious irony, a telephone number we New Yorkers take for granted has achieved international notoriety. According to a UK website, the mobile phone number of 666-6666 was auctioned for charity and became the world’s most expensive phone number.

When you think about it, it’s also heartwarming that this song is still with us. For me, the first time I heard it was two jobs ago and I can mark the passage of time by thinking about that jingle.

When the excellent film “American Graffiti” came out in 1973, the marketing copy asked, “Where were you in ’62?” It was a smart way for the movie’s producers to cast the audience back at the period when the flick takes place.

Bob Dylan once said, “Nostalgia is death.” He has a point. People shouldn’t live in the past, whether you’re reflecting on good or bad times. It can be debilitating. But I don’t see anything wrong with looking back on this commercial.

The ad can evoke lots of feelings because it covers such a swath of time. I do cringe when I see it come on my TV screen. But I also nod in admiration that the same song can last for all of these years.





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