Our "Little Old Lady" Commercial
By: Discount Tire
If you’ve perused our site, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an image of a lady dressed in blue throwing a tire. And you might be wondering why it is so prominently featured.
It all started with an idea from our founder and former CEO, Bruce Halle. Halle had reached out to Bob Natkin, a top advertising executive to come up with some ideas. Originally starting with 10 second commercials, Natkin created and filmed a couple unsuccessful ones before coming up with his winning idea.
While Natkin and Halle had disagreements during filming, he knew that Halle had the final say in how the commercial should represent Discount Tire, which surprisingly was the best choice - a testament to Halle’s uncanny business sense! Eventually, the commercial was referred to as “Little Old Lady”, and the image above is reminiscent of the popular ad that first aired in 1976.
Around the time of its conception, the country had recently entered a recession which led to devoted customers refraining from purchasing tires or wheels. Bruce knew that once the economy picked up, returning and new customers would be in need of tires. To help bring in the new customers, the advertising team came up with a 10-second television ad that highlighted our well-known return/satisfaction policy: “If ever you’re not satisfied, please feel free to bring it back”.
Filmed on a Sunday at the Phoenix Metrocenter Discount Tire store, the ad consists of a woman in a blue-print dress with multiple accessories, walking up to the store, and throwing a tire at the window. Although it’s only 10 seconds, it took nearly 6 hours to film! A local actress was hired to throw the tire but eventually, a crew member took the reins and gave it a strong throw.
You can see the words “Discount Tire” form in the shattered glass as you hear “Thank you, Discount Tire.” From then on it was then referred to as the “Thank You” ad. Legend has it that there were many challenges during filming. This undoubtedly produced some hilarious outtakes, but unfortunately, their whereabouts are a mystery.
Unsurprisingly, the commercial was a success! The “Little Old Lady” is widely credited with elevating Discount Tire’s name to the national level and ran on the air for more than 12 years, winning an International Broadcast Award from the Hollywood Radio and Television Society as well as an entry in The Guinness Book of World Records’ 2005 50th anniversary edition for the longest running tv commercial.
A surprising fun fact however, is that one disgruntled customer drew inspiration from the ad and actually threw a deflated tire at a storefront window of a Discount Tire store in Michigan! He caused up to $500 in damage, and thankfully, no one was injured. This remained the only major negative incident regarding the commercial.
Halle never imagined the ad would leave a long-lasting impact on Discount Tire and remains a testament to the company’s humble beginnings. Even today, 40 years later, the ad is a pride and joy to all of us at Discount Tire.
Check it out on our official YouTube channel! Little Old Lady Thank You Commercial.