Rodney Dangerfield, Bank of Pullman, and Me

Celebrities are paid handsomely for endorsing products and services; the bigger the celebrity, the heftier the fee.

Whether a celebrity endorsement is worth the sizable extra investment is debatable. It’s one thing to have a spokesman who is intimately if not inseparably associated with a brand. For example, Tom Bodett’s decades-long association with Motel 6 has been a huge win for both parties. But simply shelling out megabucks to have a well-known actor or sports figure attach their fame to your name doesn’t guarantee that you’ll recoup your investment.

But what if you could get that big celebrity endorsement at no cost?

Pullman’s last independent community bank was Bank of Pullman, which long-time residents will recall was purchased by AmericanWest Bank, which was in turn purchased by Banner Bank. But 26 years ago, Bank of Pullman was still Pullman’s community bank, and its president, Gary Schell, was proud to provide banking services to many local families and businesses.

The bank was a regular advertiser with us for many years. In the late 80’s or early 90’s, Gary invested in a catchy jingle package (one of my all-time favorites), We’re Hometown People That You Know, to reinforce that special bond between the bank and its customers. Here’s an example of one of Gary’s radio spots at the time.

Then, in 1993, something unexpected happened. Gary’s cousin Joan married comedian  Rodney Dangerfield. And one day, Gary gets this cassette tape in the mail with a note from his new cuz. Rodney had written and voiced a spot for Bank of Pullman, as a gesture of goodwill, and sent it to Gary to put on the air.

A big celebrity endorsement, no strings attached, completely free.

Gary told me the story, gave me the tape, and said he’d like to run it. I took it back to the studio and edited Dangerfield’s voiceover to fit in one of the special cuts from the Hometown People jingle package. The result was this spot.

Evidently, it impressed a few people. Earlier this year, someone in the Remember Pullman When Facebook group posted that he could recall Rodney Dangerfield endorsing Bank of Pullman on the radio and wondered what that was all about. Someone tagged me in the post, which sent me down a rabbit hole in search of an old cassette tape. Months later, while going through some old minidiscs, I found the two spots above, along with some other vintage material.

Twenty-six years later, the spot still makes me smile. You might enjoy it, too.

 

About Rod Schwartz 53 Articles
Rod Schwartz backed into a lifelong career in radio advertising in 1973 in Springfield, Illinois. He became sales manager for the Pullman Radio Group in 1979 and served in that position until 2006. He continues to serve clients in the region as the stations’ senior account executive. Since 1991, Rod and his family have operated Grace Broadcast Sales, providing short-form syndicated radio features to radio and TV stations across the U.S. and Canada. An avid photographer, Rod shares some of his favorite images of the Palouse at PalousePics.com.