THE BEST SELLERS’ LIST- You Know You’re From Memphis… Counting down the first 10 iconic commercials to come to my mind related to the Bluff City

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By Thomas Sellers Jr.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Going a rabbit hole, we would love for you to submit your favorite classic Memphis or regional-based commercials over the years. If you have a submission, please leave a comment at www.millington-news.com under this post or drop a line at Facebook (The Millington Star Newspaper).

Holiday memories come in many forms and fashion. 

Traditionally around this time of year we think about our best gift under the tree, favorite holiday meal or Christmas TV special. Speaking of television, I wanted to dedicate this week’s Best Sellers’ List to a vital part of our viewing experience — the commercial. 

But with a twist, I don’t want to center this countdown on seasonal spots. I am going full-blown Memphis this week. I am about to break down my top 10 (off the top of my head) “You know you’re from the M-Town commercials.” 

If you live in West Tennessee or North Mississippi, I am sure you’ve seen one of these classic commercials over the past 35 years. 

10. Mask Up Memphis!

Originally targeting the black community, “Mask Up Memphis!” was adopted by most residents throughout 2020. 

The theme was sparked by local musicians, business owners and TV personalities. The City of Memphis and Shelby County launched a “Mask Up Memphis” campaign to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 among African Americans who have been disproportionately impacted by the virus at that point. At the birth of the slogan about 60 percent of COVID-19 fatalities and cases in Memphis and Shelby County are among African Americans.

But with it being so catchy, people of all races embraced the “Mask Up Memphis” message. 

9. It’s All Good Auto Sales

Back in the early 2000s Memphians welcomed a flashy used-car salesman into our homes. We really didn’t have a choice. Mark Goodfellow was going to invade our world and get us to buy our next pre-owned car from his dealership It’s All Good Auto Sales. Located at 2944 South Third, most Memphians know that famous gate when we see it. 

Since he opened for business in 1996, Mark Goodfellow has been making waves in the pre-owned car business.

Goodfellow’s famous phrase was “Look fresh, ride clean.” His marketing worked  because his business expanded and he was involved with our NBA team the Memphis Grizzlies. 

8. The Ugliest building on Covington Pike

Orange is not the favorite color of many folks. It’s a tough choice for a large structure located on one of the busiest roads in our city. Back in the day 1800 Covington Pike stood out for all the wrong reasons. And the advertising team at Sunrise Pontiac knew it.

In ads on TV, spokesperson Bob Berkheimer used to describe his first Sunrise car dealership as “the ugliest building on Covington Pike.” 

The location opened in 1989 and that slogan must have worked as the business was very successful. People knew about Sunrise Pontiac Buick GMC because of the ugliness of that building. 

Now it has a more favorable paint job and is known as just Sunrise Buick GMC. But for folks my age, it will always be “the ugliest building on Covington Pike.”

7. Fleming Fine Furniture

Back in 2003 we said goodbye to a Memphis institution with the departure of Fleming Fine Furniture. Throughout the 1980s we got to know the family through their commercials. 

Fleming Fine Furniture, the local family-owned company that’s been in operation for 56 years. We saw the business go from selling beds and couches to computers and high-tech appliances.

When family patriarch Partee returned back to Memphis after World War II, he began an Army surplus wholesale business with his brother Bill. 

Partee’s store opened in 1946, the year his son Jim was born. We got to know Jim and his bunch through those ads. Simple but effective, Fleming Fine Furniture made us feel like we were dealing with a family member because of those ads. 

6. Be Smart, Stay Clean and Keep the Dream

As part of the Sheriff’s Office Drug-Free campaign, they got the biggest name in the Memphis area to endorse the message back in 1993. Newly drafted into the NBA and wrapping up an iconic two-year career for the Memphis Tigers, the Sheriff’s recruited Anfreenee “Penny” Hardaway. 

Yes I owned the basketball trading card, T-shirt and bumper sticker. Penny Hardaway told me to “Be smart, stay clean and keep the dream.” 

Fast forward today, Penny is still an important figure in the city and pops up on our TVs endorsing all kinds of local products. 

5. Lemme kill your weeds 

Most people don’t know the official name of the business — Herbi-Systems. But when residents in Memphis want lawn service, they think about the man with his face up close into the camera saying, “Lemme kill your weeds.”

Kenny Crenshaw, founder and owner of Herbi-Systems is not a local celebrity delivering that line in a genuine and powerful way. He really comes across as a man who wants to get rid of your weeds, brown spots, bare spots and then give aeration and seeding. 

4. Use your head, not lose your head

Back in 2017 the “Fed Up” campaign was brought to us by the City of Memphis and Operation Safe Community. The goal was to help eliminate the plague of gun violence and homicides in the Memphis area. Here’s an update… we’re failing at the challenge. 

But one good thing that came out of the campaign was the memorable line of “Use your head, not lose your head.” The man who delivered that now iconic line is Jerald Trotter. He is the voice and face of the campaign. 

And he knows what he is talking about after serving 12 years and nine months in prison for killing Jonathan Smith in 2000 during an argument at a sports bar at Winchester and Riverdale roads.

Trotter has transformed his life and wants to prevent others from going down that bad path. I hope people not only enjoy his delivery of the line but listen to it. 

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3. Deal 683-7000

Jingles, when done correctly, can live forever. Local attorney Corey B. Trotz has this down to a science. Now known as Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz, the firm has won more than $1.5 billion for clients. The main reason for the success are those commercials. 

For nearly a decade Trotz has been willing to place himself in front of the camera. With limited acting skills, mundane delivery and awkward smile, Trotz has gotten his message across through comedy. Once he was a part of our Memphis fabric,  he brought in the big gun. The jingle that has helped us remember the phone number despite the name change. 

2. We don’t call it Term-City for nothing.

Located at 2255 Lamar Avenue, Term-City Furniture & Mattress is still open. A large part of the continued success is the famous closing slogan of those local commercials, “We don’t call it Term City for nothing.” 

1. Hope in your brain

On WLMT-TV, we’ve all heard a sermon from the late Pastor James Salton. What was meant to be serious and promote his church program “Up From the World,” became a source of comedy in the Bluff City. About the third or fourth time viewing the ad, you couldn’t help but start laughing. 

Let’s all say it together… “Get that dope out your veins, and hope in your brains! You’ll never get nowhere smokin’ the pipe! Now you wanna get your lesson out and be smart in school? Get rid of the drugs! Get away from the in crowd! Get a close to God. Find…”

THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to thomas@magicvalleypublishing.com.