BC Beat

Still Crazy--and INSANE!--After All These Years

4/20/2009 02:34:16 PM

After being told last week to “grow up,” “lighten up” and “calm down old man”–in comments made to my blog about Burger King’s woefully inappropriate “square butts” SpongeBob commercial–I was led today to shake my head at another incomprehensible move, this one related to a brilliant bit of TV from my youth. It involves the resurrection of the “Crazy Eddie” brand of electronics.You remember those commercials, don’t you? (Well, you do if, at 48, you’re as ancient as I am. Let me put my teeth in so I can proffer my halcyon days smile . . . there, that’s much better.) Renowned New York radio DJ Jerry Carroll would urge you to, in no uncertain terms, “SHOP around, get the BEST PRICES you can find, then CALL CRAZY EDDIE, AND he’ll BEAT ‘EM!”

Watch a classic one here:

The spots were spoofed to perfection on SNL by Dan Aykroyd, playing “Crazy Ernie”:

Man, that was good television. And it may be again: Brandweek reports that Magic Investments, a family owned metropolitan firm, has bought the Crazy Eddie name. And let me just say right now: THAT is INSANE.

The great joy those commercials brought us died down when the real Eddie, Eddie Antar, was brought up on charges; he eventually spent six years in prison when government investigators discovered that his sale prices were, indeed, illegally loopy. That effectively ended all the humorous goodwill the ad campaign built up-much the way a video of a Dominos Pizza employee adding “special nasal sauce” to a sandwich can have an adverse affect on sales.

In 2006, a company that bought the “Crazy Eddie” trademark tried to sell it the way all refined corporate sales are conducted: through eBay. You could buy someone’s old coat, an uncertified preowned DVD . . . or the name “Crazy Eddie.” Unfortunately “Reserve Not Met” greeted the final bidder of $30,100, and nobody was sucked in by the “Buy It Now” price of $800,000.

But Magic Investments bought the name in February, and is bringing it back. The store that once frenetically sold you spiffy home computer systems by Commodore, Atari and Texas Instruments is now selling you HDTVs, digital cameras and MORE! at the appropriately named site pricesareinsane.com. There you’ll find the familiar zany logo and a chance to save a certifiably demented amount of money. An Xbox 360 “Premium Gold Pack” Video Game System, for instance, which lists for a hair under $500, goes here for $170.84. Come on now; that’s insane.

But here’s more insanity: the plan is to open Crazy Eddie retail stores, perhaps in the same locations where Circuit City recently closed out of, in 2010 or earlier.

Will it work? Please. One thing the company has in its favor: Danny DeVito is currently directing a film about Eddie Antar. What they don’t have in their favor: incredible bad will. As Eddie’s cousin Sam Antar [pardon me Mr. Antar . . . see comment below] told the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, “It’s like reviving Enron. If someone five years down the road said, ‘I started this firm called Bernie Madoff Securities,’ would you put your money there?”

Perhaps Magic Investments is banking on the idea that money saved is money saved. But to me, this seems like a great example of remembering something brilliantly of its television time . . . and then remembering how it became a bad joke.

Those commercials from back in the day are still funny. And they’re a good reminder that resurrecting Crazy Eddie, and opening stores in the middle of an economic implosion . . . is . . . INSANE!

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