retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Cal Worthington died yesterday. He was 92.
KC's View:
If you don't know who Cal Worthington was, go check him out on YouTube. He was a legendary car salesman in Southern California who at one point had 29 dealerships as far south as Long Beach and as far north as Anchorage. But even more importantly, he was a canny marketer who understood the power of television and the role that a strong spokesman could play in making a business successful.

There were two consistent elements in his TV commercials, which have been ubiquitous for decades in the markets he served. One was the jingle:

If you need a better car, go see Cal
For the best deal by far, go see Cal
If you want your payments low
If you want to save some dough
Go see Cal
Go see Cal
Go see Cal...


The other was the line that introduced him, before he made his on camera pitch:

Here's Cal Worthington and his dog, Spot!

Spot, of course, was never a dog. It could be a hippo, or a monkey, or a lion, or a tiger, or even a skunk. But never a dog.

Ultimately, what came through was that Cal Worthington was a guy with a sense of humor who would do anything to sell you a car, while somehow avoiding the sleaze factor that attaches itself to so many car salesmen. You know that if you bought a car from Cal Worthington, there was a real guy standing behind it. And despite the hokey commercials, that was immensely important ... and a lesson worth remembering.