We’ve spent most of this course talking about massive corporations and their giant campaigns designed to take over the universe.  Outside of a couple of Commercial Kings episodes, though, there’s been very little discussion on the power of local advertising. You know the kind: quirky, humorous, bordering on insane.

That’s the kind of advertising I love, and while I’m buried in mountains of SWOT analyses and wondering why some companies bothering advertising at all, I want to offer all of us a break to explore the wonderful world of McGrath Pest Control.

A 34-year old pest company operating out of Cypress, Texas (just outside of Houston), I was introduced to McGrath by my father while I was discussing this course. We were talking a little about the Heath brothers’ sticky concepts, and he exclaimed, “I have to show you these commercials!” These short radio ads are, in my opinion, the greatest local commercials ever developed. They’re hilarious, completely grounded in storytelling (albeit fictional), and memorable. You can find the entire library at this link, but here is a quick sample for you.

Enjoy this library of genius, particularly the ones where he reminisces about dating Suzie Orkin, the fictional embodiment of the Orkin pest company.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Verne says:

    Hey Bob,

    These commercials are terrific. I’ve just wasted 30 minutes of my time listening to commercials for a service I cannot use. McGrath must be producing some of the best local commercials I’ve heard. His “Mosquito Misting” and “Don’t Let Bedbugs Bite” commercials are great examples.

    McGrath has a talent for selling his product with stories that really give his company a personality. Because I feel I somewhat know him, I would be more likely to buy his product. He does not make things overly cool and even uses self-abasing humor to endear himself to the audience. His simple, humorous memorable messages certainly work to build a strong emotional connection.

    Great find!

    • Bob Simpson says:

      Thanks, Verne. Everything from the whackiness of the stories to his deadpan, bordering on childlike delivery make these commercials stand out. Even though the stories are clearly fictional, they have an innocent quality to them that resonate with listeners. Thanks for reading, bud!

  2. Yingying says:

    Hi Bob,
    Thank you for sharing this great commercial. I love it! It used the simplest way to tell the story, and thus I could focus on the creative interesting massage, and this virtual figure that was easily associated with McGrath Pest Control. Being simple sometimes is a great art.

    • Bob Simpson says:

      Thanks Yingying. The simplicity of the ads were what stood out for me as well. They are reminiscent of the famous Tom Bodet Motel 6 ads, with storytelling and folksy charm, making you trust the communicator and, therefore, the brand.

  3. Theodore says:

    I think authenticity is an understatement when describing these advertisements; they’re awesome! The simplicity and genuineness of these promotions truly reflect the notion of “local,” and provide a glimpse of the audience the advertisements are attempting to cater to as well. By comparison to much larger, national firms, McGrath Pest Control, whether intended or not, does a splendid job of positioning itself against these competitors with their open and candid advertisements.

    • Bob Simpson says:

      I think you make a good point that McGrath manages to position themselves against the competition well in these ads. I would also say that, even though their competitors are constantly mentioned in the radio spots, the fact that McGrath turns them into actual, flawed people gives them a tremendous strategy. You’re attacking your competition in a playful way, so you don’t lose face with the consumer.

  4. Catherine says:

    Hi Bob,

    I think these localized type of advertisements are great! They’re real and raw, and don’t cater to the lowest common consumer like ads from giant corporations do. These types of ads are simple, great at capturing the attention of viewers/listeners, and genuinely hilarious. McGrath’s own personality and sense of humor give his company a character, which people can relate to.

    If you’ve ever lived in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, they have a great local advertiser who’s just as cheesy and hilarious. Michael’s furniture makes their commercials so bad, they loop back around to good:

    • Bob Simpson says:

      Oh man, those Michael’s furniture ads are legendary! It’s one of the great advantages of local advertisers – you can be completely weird and it only makes you stand out from the competition. Instead of conforming to what is right and proper, you’re basically pulling out all the stops so you can compete with the inflated budgets of your competitors!

  5. Sarah Nettinga says:


    Great example of Making it Stick! Funny stories that will not let you forget the company or the owners or what they do. Very smart for a local ad — although very disturbing at the same time. I guess if you kill bugs for a living you have to have a sense of humor.


    • Bob Simpson says:

      Sarah, I agree that the black humor in the ad is a little disturbing, but I applaud McGrath for this. After all, they deal in death (of insects), so why not call attention to that. Sure, the pleasure McGrath seems to take in killing insects borders on the psychotic, but wouldn’t you want to hire someone who loves his job and is solving a problem in your home at the same time?

  6. Dinah Chen says:

    Hi Bob,

    This is indeed a funny radio commercial and very memorable too. “knock knock, who’s there? cockroach…” LOL. I personally like radio commercials a lot, maybe because of the commute to school is kind of boring. I sometimes feel commercials are more interesting and diverse than musics or songs played on radio.

  7. apwebste says:

    So simple and sticky, I can’t get over it.
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Graham says:

    Holy cow Bob this is great! Local marketing is a complicated mistress but having spent some time in the field I have to say this is some of the best stuff I’ve seen. The sheer hilarity of the stories makes them so dang memorable I’ll probably end up sharing this with colleagues very soon. Allow me to share a polar opposite:

    In this article, an Arizona bakery gets hosed on Yelp and Reddit for repackaging products from other places. The magic really happens when they decide to engage the naysayers with panicky posts on facebook one after the other. It’s a social media nightmare. If they had laughed at their critics (and perhaps themselves a bit) or taken a page out of McGraths playbook I’ll be they would have been much better off.

    Excellent post sir!