By David Horsfall

What makes a great commercial? If you could choose Seattle’s Best Commercials Ever, what would be on your list?

A week before the Super Bowl I posed that question to readers of The Talking Horse Blog. Minutes later I had my first answer.

Since then I’ve received dozens of suggestions. Mainly from advertising and design professionals, but also from friends who say they hate advertising. Right before they recall an old commercial that they love.

That’s what choosing the best commercials in the last 50 years is really all about.

It’s not just about winning awards. It’s about how thirty seconds of film can hold us captive in front of a TV. It’s about creating something new and different. How a well-crafted message can turn a business into a household name. Or add to local lore.

Most of all, it’s about something that makes us think or smile, that we never forget. That’s what makes a great commercial.

To make the list below, commercials had to be suggested by two or more people. Some good ones got left off (as did some bad ones.) Are your favorites on the list? If not, now’s the time to add them.

Having been a part of Seattle advertising for years, I have my ideas for the top spots, and I imagine you do, too.

Could it be the dancing animals created for the Puyallup Fair in 1976? Or the current spots for PEMCO featuring our more idiosyncratic neighbors? Or even—dare you admit it—those unloved, low-budget commercials for Jack Roberts, and the original hammering man, Dick Balch?

To participate, you don’t need to be an ad person, printer, media buyer or graphic designer. All you need is an opinion. Plus, it’s absolutely free, because—like  Jack Roberts—I won’t be undersold!

The top 10 local commercials of all time will be announced the evening of The MARKETING  Awards reception May 17 at the Center For Urban Horticulture.

And how will the winners be determined? By you – The Supreme Court Of Seattle Advertising.

No fancy robes required.

To help select Seattle’s Best Commercials Ever, send your email address and suggestions to

Need to refresh your memory? View a collection of classic local spots by going to

Seattle’s Best Commercials Ever

Alaska Airlines – “Taxi,” “Change For A Dollar,” “Cutting Corners,” “Purchasing Agent,” “Getting There,” “Sky High Airlines,” “Little Things”

Bardahl – “Gummy Rings,”

Boeing – “Globetrotters,” “Lonely Man,” DaVinci,” “Someday”

Bon Marche – “Day-O,”  “Bon Girls”

Cellular One – “Fast Talker”

Dick Balch – car-smashing commercials

Eagle Hardware & Garden – Edgar Martinez “Light Bat”

Ivar’s – “Dances With Clams”

KPLZ – “Alcatraz”

Longacres –”Doo Dah”

Olympia Beer – “Guy On Bus”

PEMCO – “4-Way Stop,” “Goat Renter Guy,” “Sandals and Socks Guy”

PeoplesBank – “Member FDIC. And the human race.”

Pizza Haven – “Pizza Heaven”

Puget Sound Bank – “Robbery,” “Last Independent Bank”

Puyallup Fair – “Do The Puyallup”

Rainier Bank – “Veterinarian”

Rainier Beer – “Motorcycle,” “Frogs,” “Beer Crossing,” “Cousteau,” “Running of the Rainiers,” “Mickey Rooney Mountie,” “Mickey Rooney Wild Rainiers,” “You’re The Tops”

Seafirst – 1986 Olympics “Rowing”

Sea Galley – “We’ve Got Crab Legs”

Seattle International Film Festival – “Do You Like To Watch,”

Seattle Mariners – “Larry Bernandez,” “Jamie Moyer Slow Pitch,” Ichiro “Epidemic,” copywriter “Chimpanzee,” Edgar “Opening the Roof,” “Batter’s Box”

Seattle Supersonics – “Gary Payton,” “Nate McMillan”

Thomason Auto – “Greatest Auto Dealer”

Virginia Mason – “Cochlear Implant,” “Heart Attack”

Washington Lottery – “Flightless Birds”

Washington Lottery –  “Big Houses,” “Street Performers,” “Opera”

Washington Mutual – “Friend Of The Family”

Washington Mutual – “Rodeo Grandmas”

Washington State Department of Health – “No Stank You”

Washington State University – “Allez Les Cougs”

Weyerhaeuser – “Tree House”


22 Responses to Candidates For Seattle’s Best TV Spots

  1. John Scott says:

    Don’t forget:

    (Actor John McLaim portrayed the ghost of Dexter Horton)

  2. Thanks John. You did an excellent job playing Dexter Horton. Since you are the second person to nominate this campaign, I’m adding it to the collection. To view other classic spots, go to YouTube and type in horsfallcreative or Seattle’s Best Commercials Ever.

    • Karol says:

      - I love the photos! So glad I got to meet you and Morgan and hang out in Seattle all day! I had a blast swhoing you guys around! Come back soon! Thanks again for these!

  3. Prince says:

    Adrian DutrieuilleI think the funniest crecmomial was when the person through a ball at the vending machine and the doritos were free. but the funniest part was when he threw the ball at his boss!

  4. Green Finger says:

    do the right thing and spread the truth please… 9/11 was an inside job, the war on terror is a big lie

  5. OpenYourEyes says:

    please spread the truth , the war on terror is a big lie, iraq/libya/afghan/syria/iran big LIEE SEPTEMBER 11th 2001 was an inside job

  6. please spread facts and honest truths , bush’s war on terror is huge fraud/hoax/scam sept 11th 2011 was an inside job

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