Let's Talk About Those Goddamn Frank Leta Commercials

They say all publicity is good publicity. But odds are, the marketing professionals behind that idiom never anticipated the sentiment would be weaponized and used for such evil as that wrought by the Frank Leta Automotive Outlet's unconscionable and inescapable "It's a crime to pay more than a dime" commercials.

With a film noir feel and the deployment of the worst Jersey accent of all time ("It's a croiym to pay more than a doiym"), the television and radio spots attempt to make the case that even if your credit sucks you should still be able to buy a brand-new car for less than the price of a gumball (and even seem to insinuate you should be arrested should you believe otherwise).

To be clear, that's a really stupid idea, unless you really love making exorbitant interest payments and also you've completely forgotten about the predatory lending practices that led to the housing market recession, in which case: Go nuts, we suppose.

The ads have evolved in recent months, with the more recent versions mercifully dropping the surly detective theme and ridiculous accent in favor of just trying to get you to part with your dimes. But, maddeningly, the car lot still opts to run the audio for the television spots on the radio unchanged, meaning any visual context is completely lost.

In one, after musing that "a dime can't really buy you much these days," the ad's spokeswoman goes on to drop a coin in a coffee machine, which dispenses precious little liquid. She then approaches what is presumably an Uber driver and asks to be driven "as far as a dime can take me," before the vehicle lurches forward about six inches and stops abruptly.

With the aid of visuals, this makes sense. But via the radio, it goes a little something like this: "You know, a dime can't really buy you much these days." *Score rises.* Clink-clank. Whoooosh, gurgle. "However far a dime will take me." Clunk, screech. "Thanks, I think." This is half of the entire 30 second spot. Sans visuals, it is utter nonsense.

And as if relentlessly assaulting the good people of St. Louis through their televisions and radios isn't enough, the car lot opted last week to upload the commercial described above to its Facebook page:

Suffice it to say it didn't go well. Finally afforded the opportunity to voice their opinion on the ads, the citizens of St. Louis made their feelings crystal clear:

And that's only one small sample. Why, if we had a dime for every enraged St. Louisan showing their disdain for these ads, we could probably buy the entire car lot, promptly shut it down and make the whole metro area a happier place.

But seriously though, it seems exceptionally unlikely that "I hope you fucks go out of business" is the kind of publicity Mr. Leta was hoping for, and it even seems like that old marketing idiom may just simply not apply as well as its creators thought.

Or, maybe, this article will sell some cars. In which case: You're welcome, Frank.
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About The Author

Daniel Hill

Daniel Hill is editor at large for the Riverfront Times and he demands to be taken seriously, despite all evidence to the contrary. Follow him on Twitter at @rftmusic.
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