I will never forget the first time I heard his voice.
I was sitting on the floor of my living room, putting together my new coffee table, and a commercial came on the television. A giant booming voice fumbled to read off car statistics, laughed a little, then ended his advertisement with a giant, loud “come getcha one.”
My first reaction was pretty mortified. How could a guy go on TV, not prepared and without a care in the world, and try to sell cars to an educated public? This man, this Larry Stovesand, was selling state-of-the-art cars and all he could remember about them was that they had a radio and a moon roof. I thought it had to be a joke, or that the guy was wildly unsuccessful.
Then I met him.
I walked into Stovesand’s office Monday morning to talk to him about his commercials, to try to understand a little more of the enigma that was this charismatic car salesman. I wasn’t met at the door by an idiot, someone who had no idea what they were doing. I was greeted by an extremely tall, well-dressed, intelligent man with a handshake that could break bones if need be.
I launched in to questions. Do you prepare? How long does it take to shoot your commercials? What is your process? He just laughed.
“Process? I don’t have a process,” he said. “I show up on set, read the tag, they say action and I go. The entire thing takes about 45 seconds. There are very rarely second-takes. There are very rarely do-overs. You get what you get.”
Stovesand says his commercials are conversational, and he likes them that way. The only time he re-shoots is when he mentions the wrong car dealership (he does own more than one), he curses, or when something terrible goes wrong. Take one time this spring, for example, when he was animated while talking about an SUV. He swung his arm, got caught on the antenna, and the antenna rocketed back toward his head.
“That one, we re-did,” Stovesand said. “I looked scared and it really did almost hurt me. Those moments don’t sell cars.”
Other than that, he says, almost every moment is fair game. Last week, while shooting, Stovesand got stuck between two cars while talking about them. He didn’t stop talking, didn’t ask for a retake. Instead, he just told the viewers “Wow, I am stuck,” and went on with his spiel. Other moments, especially during his annual live shot on the day after Christmas, can’t be fixed.
“Last year, our first shot was at 7:30 a.m.,” Stovesand said. “I am supposed to go on, and all the sudden this huge flock of geese goes overhead. I just stood there, looking at the geese in the sky for what had to be 10 seconds. I came to my senses, looked at the camera, and tried to make a joke out of it. Boy, was that embarrassing.”
Day in and day out, we are forced to watch commercials that are the same old thing: tired actors with tired premises. Stovesand thinks outside the box, he does things his way. He is funny and he may come off like a goof, but he wins our hearts. And when you are thinking about the last time you saw that Buick, or are looking for a new car, it’s the guy who sticks in your mind the most who is going to win you over. It’s that genius that makes Stovesand a winner, whether he thinks so or not.
“You know, you have to advertise,” he said. “You put yourself out there and see what happens. I get stopped at the grocery store, basically everywhere I go. I don’t have statistics to show if it’s working, but at least people know me and can associate me with some laughs.”
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.