Low Budget Ads of the 90’s: THE HAMMER

Low Budget Ads of the 90’s: THE HAMMER

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With all of the budget numbers floating around in my head 24/7, every now and then a “number” from the past just comes to mind. This morning, it was the number 546 77 77 that awoke me.

You have to say it like that. Five four six, pause, seventy seven, seventy seven. While in the shower I kept repeating it in different silly voices. The “angry” version seemed the most familiar. What the hell was it?

By the time I ran out of hot water, I’d come to the conclusion that it was a phone number. I’ve actually lived in two places where the local exchange was 546, but I know I’ve never been fortunate enough to have such an easy to remember phone number. Pizza place maybe? Hmmmm…

Most things that wake me in the middle of the night date back to my years in University so I tried to isolate it to something somewhere in the mid-1990’s. Was it some constant represented by a greek letter used in chemistry? Physics? Damn.

No, it had to be a phone number. Five four six, pause, seventy seven, seventy seven.

Driving to work, I listen to AM radio (yeah, yeah, I know people think I’m too young to listen to talk radio), and they have some of the worst “local” commercials and that’s when the, now compact flourescent, lightbulb went on.
Jim Shapiro
“I’m JIM SHAPIRO, the TOUGH, SMART lawyer. 1-800-546-7777. Jim ‘THE HAMMER’ Shapiro. Call 1-800-546-7777.”

It was from the funniest ever daytime (or sometimes very latenight) commercial. This guy used to get so angry in his commericals, I swear, it was like his head was about to explode. He was INSANE. I mean, there is no way I’d call this guy to represent me. No way.

Apparently, now that I’ve googled him, he practiced out of Syracuse which would explain why we could see his commercials north of the border in Canada. What I’m not sure of is why THE HAMMER would have paid for advertising on the local CBC station?

Being poor students, we didn’t have cable and the one CBC station (CKWS in Kingston, Ontario) we could pull in with rabbit ears had Hockey Night in Canada, so we weren’t really looking for anything else. The only place we could have seen the commercials was on a Canadian station. Perhaps it’s because Watertown, New York could likely pull in the signal. Eitherway, that’s still not really very close to Syracuse.

I can’t tell you how hard we’d laugh each time THE HAMMER came on. And being that we were generally watching Baywatch, Star Trek, and Fresh Prince repeats, well, lets just say he was good for atleast one 30 second spot every single commercial break. Six times an hour, baby. We’d recite his whole ad — in public. It never got old. “I SUE DRUNKS!”

It’s kinda sad that this is the only type of knowledge that’s stuck from my days in university.

Here’s some video:

Honorable mention for best mid-1990’s greater-Kingston local commercial goes to Bob Clute Pontiac — the dealer with the handshake.

Seriously, someone out there has to be able to sing their old jingle with me. In one commercial, I think they had the entire Belleville Bulls hockey team singing it. It was truly a hit song in the region.

No, really.