Tv commercials

House of Guitars TV commercials have won over generations of Rochester kids


As well as being a destination for music lovers and musicians of all skill levels, and a jam-packed repository of rock ‘n’ roll history, the house of guitars has garnered a lot of attention over the years for its psychedelic, low-fi TV commercials.

They started airing in the 1960s, mostly late at night, after the old folks had gone to bed and the young ones arrived after last call.

The spots, featuring Armand Schaubroeck as a spokesperson and Bruce Schaubroeck in a supporting role, solidified the brothers’ status as pop culture figures, but they did not seek small-screen stardom. Somehow they got it wrong after being cold called by a local TV ad sales rep.

“When we first created them, nobody was doing their own ads, not even car dealerships,” Armand said. “They really didn’t want we there because they had advertisers to do them.

Bruce said, “Most people, in the early years, it was either the weatherman or the reporter doing the TV commercials, like they were celebrities or something.”

Continued: House of Guitars stories you haven’t heard, told by the men who built it

However, it quickly became apparent that meteorologists and reporters “couldn’t pronounce the marks too well or describe things,” Bruce said. “So we said, ‘No, it’s not working’, and we went there on our own.”

Generally, their process was as follows: “After the store closed,” Armand said, “sometimes we’d grab a couple six-packs of beer, chill, relax, and start shooting, you know?”

The resulting productions, featuring dizzying and sometimes blurry camera work, seemingly dazed employees and, at times, Armand in bunny ears and one of the store’s “KILL ME” t-shirts, caused numerous skirmishes in the television subsidiaries. ‘ the reception desks.

“They would like to know, ‘What does that mean? What does that mean?'” he said. We had to watch your ad over and over again. All day they had a meeting. And they wanted to know what it meant and what it meant.

It seemed like they were worried that HOG would try to turn on impressionable kids with subliminal messages, much like a trippy, hippie version of The Manchu Candidate.

There was no such plot.

“We were too busy trying to make money and stay in business,” Bruce said.

Despite their aggressive amateur style, and perhaps because of that, the ads were a hit.

“They brought in tons of people,” Armand said, and became such a phenomenon that they inspired fan mail. and hate mail. HOG turned this into publicity by running a Best Fan Mail/Best Hate Mail contest. The winner of the fan mail category got to appear in an ad, and the author of the top hate mail received “a junky guitar”, he said.

TV spots weren’t just a thing here either. In interviews, comedian Tom Green has spoken of seeing them as children growing up in Ottawa, Canada, where they could pick up the Rochester channels.

The most well-known celebrity to appear in a HOG commercial was Ozzy Osbourne, who agreed to star after his third in-store encounter with fans.

“We just asked, ‘Can we just film this for a commercial? “, said Armand, and the prince of darkness graciously agreed.

“He’s a nice person,” said Armand d’Osbourne, who achieved rock infamy by biting his head off a bat during a 1982 gig in Des Moines.

Early in their career, the Ramones also appeared in one of the commercials.

But, “We got the most attention with the Easter one with the ‘hop hop,'” Armand said.

“I am the real Easter Bunny. If you don’t believe me, come take a look now – hup hup,” he says in one of the spots while wearing bunny ears and sunglasses and jumping up and down. Cigar in hand, he implores viewers to tell their parents they don’t want candy for Easter — they want a folk guitar or an electric guitar, stressing, “We have thousands of guitars. More than anyone else in the world. Hop-hop, hop-hop. »

The campaign is so indelible that in 2014 it was the subject of a Wall/Therapeutic mural. John Perry’s artwork, which is in a building on Pennsylvania Avenue near Niagara Street and the Rochester Public Market, features the likeness of a bunny-eared Armand strumming a guitar next to a box saying “HOOP! JUMP!” with Rochester’s flower logo replacing the O’s. (Armand also wore bunny ears—and rode a tricycle—on stage at the Eastman Theater when the store was inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame in 2014. )

“And then the Christmas one with the animation is good,” he said. “A lot of them over the years are weird, you know? They are cool.”

Journalist Marcia Greenwood covers general assignments. Send story tips to [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @MarciaGreenwood.