Gary Herron

I’ve always watched a lot of TV. Some might say too much, but not me.

My regular weekly favorites are “American Pickers,” “Pawn Stars,” “Impractical Jokes,” “The First 48,” “America’s Got Talent” (Again I ask, why are so many of these acts coming from outside the U.S.?), the late “Live PD” and a compelling “Dateline,” “20/20” or “48 Hours.”

I also enjoy sports, of course, and almost anything on PBS from Ken Burns — have you seen his series on the national parks? You should; I wished I would have considered being a park ranger after seeing this series.

Of course, if you watch TV with a DVR — hey, the VHS still works at my casa — you’re stuck watching commercials. And I have the unique gift of grabbing the remote when a commercial comes on and tuning to another channel — and getting a commercial there.

Since I’ve given you my favorite TV shows, now you’re stuck with seeing a list of my favorite commercials.

“Who is this?” the wife asks, hearing her husband affirms, “It’s Jake … from State Farm.”

No. 1 has to be the “Jake from State Farm” commercial.

“Who is this?” the angry wife asks.

“It’s Jake … from State Farm,” replies her husband.

“What are you wearing, Jake from State Farm?” she asks into the phone.

You’ve seen it a million times, too, but it’s still funny.

They have removed the original lines: “She sounds hideous” and, “He’s a guy.” And they have a new Jake; no worries, he’s still wearing khakis.

As much as my marketing and advertising background – from more than a few decades ago — still compels me to insist on the importance of a company’s brand, Geico spots can be entertaining and pretty creative. There’s the couple with a “clogging” problem, another couple with a “Ratt” problem and the newcomers to the neighborhood association, mentioned by a passing man saying, “I see you’ve met Cynthia.”

(By the way, the Ratt spot amassed more than 8 million views on YouTube since April 13),

But, inasmuch as I enjoy those Geico spots, the company has used too many branding concepts for too short of a time: the caveman and the gecko “spokespeople,” for example. Now, Geico has its gecko meeting Rocky and Bullwinkle. (How many of your children remember that duo?)

I detest most of the automobile commercials, often showing drivers going too fast and basically without regard to anyone around them. Here’s another I despise: all of them from Liberty Mutual – you know, the goofball driving around with an emu.

According to, here are key commercial points for a “good” ad:

They’re memorable: 

From “Wassup!” to “Where’s the Beef?” the most-successful ads have a way of ingraining themselves in your memory — whether you want them to or not! Today’s average urbanite sees some 5,000 advertising messages in a single day. The advertiser’s job is to cut through the noise and stand out with a message that’s relevant, different and effectively represents the brand identity.

They’re share-worthy: 

For maximum exposure, ads should make people want to talk about them with other people, in real life and on social media. Usually, the ads that inspire that kind of dialogue have elicited some kind of emotional reaction: They’re funny, shocking, weird or emotionally touching. (These are often viewed during the Super Bowl — but how often do you remember the ad but not the company or what it’s advertising?)

They communicate the brand’s values: 

The best ads capture the brand’s voice and identity, and communicate the ethos behind the company. The audience should watch the ad and think, “This brand is for people like me.”

Call to action:

An effective commercial makes it clear what it wants you to do next, whether it’s to visit a website, lease a car, grab a beer or buy some candy. While some advertisers skip this step, incorporating the brand more subtly or focusing on awareness, you can really only get away with this if you’re already a household name like Nike or Apple.

That’s all for now. I’m expecting a call from Jake … from State Farm.