Updated Dec 1, 2023 - Things to Do

Empire Carpet crowned Chicago's best TV commercial of all time

Bracket: Axios Visuals

Victory Auto Wreckers announced this month that it's closing.

What's happening: The scrapyard served its purpose for 80 years in the Chicago area, but it was best known for its commercial. We couldn't get that car door out of our heads, so we decided it's time to crown the best local commercial of all time.

The result: Hundreds of Axios readers decided Empire Carpet's long-running commercials are the greatest of all time in Chicago.

Flashback: Empire Carpet (now called Empire Today) was a Chicago company that started in 1959. But the iconic commercial came years later, when a local ad writerdonned the Empire carpet uniform and changed history.

  • Now, it's a national company, hence the 1-800 thrown in front of the jingle.

Catch up on the tournament methodology and past rounds below.

Methodology: What makes a good commercial? Locality and kitsch, mostly. We also had to bring balance and make sure we didn't have too many of one category.

The championship matchup

Empire Carpet vs. Victory Auto Wreckers

Empire: 588-2300. Does anything else need to be said (or sung)?

Victory Auto Wreckers: The company is now out of business, but that old car will live in Chicago infamy.

Round 3 matchups

Empire Carpet vs. Celozzi-Ettleson

  • So far in this tournament, Empire has dominated the competition. It's hard to argue with the results, given that its jingle could easily be the city's theme song.
  • Celozzi-Ettleson is the last car dealer standing, which says a lot in Chicago. This is not just a colossal final four matchup, but it should be a lesson in local TV history.

Old Style vs. Victory Auto Wreckers

  • That old car keeps motoring closer and closer to the crown, and Victory Auto Wreckers made short work of Bob Rohrman. It's a standard, and Chicago is feeling nostalgic after the junkyard closed.
  • If you want humor, the only one left is Dennis Farina's Old Style. The spot really plays on Chicago's second city status, which appears to play well with voters.

Round 2 matchups

Empire Carpet vs. Andriana Furs

  • Empire Carpet is the front-runner, but this matchup could definitely go either way.
  • Empire's jingle is synonymous with Chicago, but Andriana Furs is warmth AND luxury.

Moo & Oink vs. Celozzi-Ettleson

  • Moo & Oink took down the corporate grocery store to get to this round. The now shuttered grocery store lives on through its rather contemporary jingle.
  • Celozzi-Ettleson found local celebrity through a series of commercials that didn't showcase their charm or their looks, but rather just repeated the phrase "Where you always save more money" over and over.

Victory Auto Wreckers vs. Bob Rohrman

  • Bob Rooooorrrhman becomes the second car dealer to advance to the next round. Rohrman sells cars, while Victory Auto Wreckers kills them.
  • The junkyard commercial's star was a broken car door and some authentic bell bottom jeans that will always place it.

Dennis Farina's Old Style vs. Eagle Man

  • Eagle Man is so wacky and absurd that the phrase "look at those low rates" is quoted often.
  • Dennis Farina will forever be etched in Chicago's hearts as an undercover cop on a sting to catch New Yorkers drinking Old Style.

Round 1 matchups

Empire Carpet vs. United Auto Insurance

  • 588-2300 is a Chicago staple. The Empire Carpet commercials are the top seed in this tournament, not just because of their impact locally but because of their reach nationally. Everyone can finish that phone number.
  • United Auto Insurance was made famous by pitchmen Eddie and Jobo from B-96.

Eagle Man vs. Aronson Furniture

  • Eagle Insurance has some low rates. So low that an eagle lays an egg on a car! Their commercials probably have the best use of an eagle costume in the tournament.
  • Aronson Furniture is the home of the credit connection.

Victory Auto Wreckers vs. Webb Boys

  • Victory Auto Wreckers will surely get a bump from this month's news, but you know that your old car is worth money because of this iconic commercial.
  • Webb Boys has the whole town talking about their jingle.

Celozzi-Ettleson vs. Howard Pontiac

  • These are titans of the car dealership genre of local commercials. Celozzi-Ettleson taught us that you can always save more money, while Howard Pontiac's matriarch let us know where the dealership was located.
  • Yep, on Grand Avenue. Wait, where's Schmerler Ford?

Moo & Oink vs. Jewel-Osco

  • Grocery stores have played a huge role in our local commercial landscape. Dominick's barely missed the cut, but Jewel-Osco's "Take a new look at an old friend Jewel" is iconic. Don't forget about the baritone voice actor telling us how much ham costs this week.
  • Yet, Moo & Oink probably has the most musical jingle in Chicago history. Moo & Oink … moo moo mooooo and oink!

Walter E. Smithe vs. Bob Rohrman

  • Walter E. Smithe furniture is more contemporary, but don't let that fool you. The brothers (and now sisters) have put together some of the most wacky local commercials in Chicago history.
  • Bob Rohrman's lion roar will make an instant connection with any Chicagoan in the crowd.

Peter Francis Geraci vs. Dennis Farina's Old Style

  • It's bankruptcy versus beer in this first-round matchup. Geraci is still a staple on daytime TV, selling his services to those who need to get out of debt. We're not sure if he's still selling his "info tapes."
  • Dennis Farina's early 1990s Old Style commercials were almost perfect. Don't be fooled by New York or LA, they are coming for our Old Style. So Chicago.

Andriana Furs vs. Mr. Submarine

  • Agh! This could be the toughest matchup in the first round. Feel the warmth and luxury of Andriana Furs or watch Scottie Pippen slam dunk a sandwich.
  • These are two powerhouse local commercials and we're sad one won't make it out of the first round.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest rounds.


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