Ad men thrive on Chuck take
Ad men thrive on Chuck take

Anyone who has watched late-night television in the US will know the cult phenomenon of local commercials, where small business owners make their own cheap television ads and often star in them.

Think of all those ads by John Hughes, only on a small budget and with no clue about production values. Most are terrible, yet some are so daggy and catchy they've become popular in the mainstream.

"Most times, they are pretty horrible," self-proclaimed "internetainer" Link Neal says. "They only have enough money to buy television time, but they were resourceful enough to come up with the creative ideas and even be the stars of the commercial. They became an inspiration for us."

Welcome to Commercial Kings, a quirky, lovable ABC series inspired by the phenomenal success of the hit web series I Love Local Commercials by Neal and his life-long best friend Rhett McLaughlin.

"As fans of local commercials, we decided to make a spoof commercial for our site ( But it wasn't challenging so we decided to make the real thing," Neal says.

In the 13-part web series, which has been turned into a nine-part reality series, Rhett and Link take 48 hours to research, write and shoot a local commercial for a variety of small businesses, including cat and dog havens, hot dog vendor and car washes. Their most popular commercial was for taxidermist Chuck Testa, who came up with a catchphrase that entered the vernacular.

"Chuck says 'You probably thought this deer was alive. Nope, Chuck Testa'. After a few weeks, everyone in America was saying 'Nope, Chuck Testa'." The ad went viral, with almost 10 million YouTube views, and "Nope, Chuck Testa" entered Time Magazine's top 10 internet memes of last year.

Though Rhett and Link have engineering degrees, they became internet entertainers in 2004, making music videos, films and commercials on their website.

Their site is one of the internet's most popular non-commercial sites, with more than 810,000 subscribers and 110 million video views.

"There's a lot of small businesses that are struggling," Neal says. "So it's great to be able to help mum and pop businesses. We make them totally free in exchange for being able to film the process and make it into the TV show."

Having met on the first day of first grade, the likable pair have forged an unusual but rewarding friendship and career that's as far from engineering as possible.

Both in their mid-30s and married with children, they've also created web videos for McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, Hummer and Cadillac, and now earn more than six figures in advertising revenue and sponsorship.

Commercial Kings airs today at 9pm on ABC2.

The West Australian

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