It’s Cal Worthington and his dog Spot!

If you grew up in southern California, you are painfully familiar with this series of television ads:

How many times–thousands, tens of thousands surely–were we subjected to these used-car-lot ads? Each ad was introduced with a frenzied cry of “It’s Cal Worthington and his dog Spot!”, followed by low-budget footage of somebody (presumbly Cal himself) awkwardly cavorting with a zoo animal that was never actually a dog. And the music that accompanied it… decades later, every word is still seared into my brain.

Oddly, these commercials always seemed to air at really inappropriate timeslots, such as during Thundercats and Duck Tales. I don’t know about most kids, but I certainly did not have any used-car purchasing power at that age. Cal Worthington at least provided me with my first lesson in marketing strategy: I quite clearly recall asking my dad once why somebody would create advertisements that seemed designed only to annoy and repel potential customers. Dad’s answer was “Well, you remember his name, don’t you?”

Oh, how I remember.

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6 thoughts on “It’s Cal Worthington and his dog Spot!

  1. michele

    The cars, clothes, and lack of regard for the dignity of animals looks to be at least 10 years older than the period during which you’d have been watching Thundercats…for how many decades did these commercials air???

  2. Andy

    How many decades did those ads run? Wikipedia has the sanity-blasting answer:
    “For nearly a quarter-century, from the 1960s up through the 1990s, Worthington ran a series of TV ads for his auto dealerships. They were known as the “My Dog Spot” ads because each commercial would introduce “Cal Worthington and his dog Spot!” However, the “dog” was always some exotic animal being led around on a leash, such as a tiger or elephant.
    The commercial was accompanied by a jingle accompanied by the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” went, “if you want a car or truck, Go see Cal, if you want to save a buck, Go see Cal,” with the “Go see Cal” part repeated at least 15 times.”


    I remember those annoying ads too! Do you know the phone number of San Diego stucco by heart like I do? That was obviously effective advertising too. The other annoying ad series I remember is from Earl Scrieb (Spelling?) auto painting for $99.95!

  4. Andy

    Glad to know other Californians have this burned into their memory too! I don’t remember Scrieb’s auto painting, but now that Cal Worthington’s ads have stopped airing, perhaps it’s time that somebody new stepped up to the plate to take his place.

  5. Rachel

    I can’t believe that someone took the time to post this on YouTube. Please tell me it wasn’t you!
    Hearing the name Cal Worthington immediately triggers memories of watching TV at my parent’s house. Do you think that’s the marketing campaign he had in mind?
    My niece cries when she’s watching live TV and commercials come on, because she’s so used to watching shows on TiVO. Today’s kids have it so easy. 🙂

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