Here’s the Whole Story Behind the Year’s Kookiest Car Ad

How can you resist this junky 1995 Ford F150?

Would you buy a used car from this man?

Meet Chris Murphy, aka Dan Mayson, a voiceover artist and radio announcer from Fredericksburg, Va., whose zany, brutally honest YouTube video, designed to sell a broken-down 1995 Ford F150, is getting lots of well-deserved attention this week.

"My wife wanted me to get rid of the truck," Murphy tells AdFreak. "So instead of just putting a bunch of pictures on Craigslist, I figured I'd be 'me' in front of the camera. The whole thing kind of wrote itself. Credit also goes to my son Paul for help with the camera. Smart kid!"

Murphy's sales pitch is friendly, sincere … and totally off the wall. He points out the vehicle's many deficiencies—300,000 miles on the odometer, brakes that need "a little more MacGyvering," and a dead battery—with such gleeful gusto that they sound like reasons to actually buy the old junker.

"I have a quirky humor that seems to resonate with some people," he says. "I've been doing work like this in audio for years. This was my first attempt in video. It is a fun ad that pokes fun at car dealers."

In the spot's best bit, the asking price—"Nine-ninety-nine-ninety-nine!"—reverberates in hypnotic fashion, a slap at late-night cable-TV hucksters, as the camera zooms in on Murphy's teeth for a loopy tribute to, of all things, Citizen Kane. "I knew I wanted to get the [pricing] message closer and closer," Murphy says. "Then I remembered that opening scene. I could not resist."

The clip might not approach the viral heights of that homemade Volvo spot from Sweden, nor is it quite as epic as Nate Walsh's Craigslist ad hawking his 1999 Toyota Camry.

No matter. Murphy's got a style and charm all his own. Of course, he never expected so much attention. "It is a little surprising," he said. "I first learned of the interest when I received a call from the Washington Post. I thought the fellow was interested in my truck. Nope, wanted to run a story on it. I wasn't expecting that."

Speaking of, any offers for the truck? "Nothing yet," Murphy says, unfazed. For now, he's just happy the ad is making people smile.

His voiceover reel boasts lots of humorous impressions, including a first-rate Alfred Hitchcock, a Jim Backus that sounds kind of like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, and a Peter Lorre-esque "Creepy Bad Guy" (the perfect choice, perhaps, for the next time he plays a used-car salesman in an ad).

"I guess my style of humor really has touched a nerve," Murphy says. "It has inspired me to think a little more about a movie I want to do—low-budget, with a pile of fun stuff in it. Hopefully it will be shot with something a little better than a Nexus 7."

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: September 4, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT