by Chris Calcino
FROM a certifiable maniac shrieking about half-price doors to Status Quo bastardising their 1974 hit Down Down to flog bargain bin zucchinis for Coles, the power of the dreadful advertisement is indisputable.
There is one bloke who does it better (worse) than anyone else in Queensland when the State of Origin rolls around every year.
The most patriotic tyre merchant this side of Tweed Heads.
A man whose voice conjures up images of a balloon being slowly deflated to the tune of Khe Sanh.
A chip off the old block who bears a passing resemblance to Mickey Rooney and, I imagine, requires daily doses of airborne rubber particles up his snout just to keep the old ticker thumping.
Introducing Federal Tyres Mickey Tyre and Auto owner, Rick Lee.
Having been down in that wallowing pit of misery, NSW, for the past few Origin clashes, I was unaware of a game-day tradition that has run up here for the past three years.
But there it was on Wednesday, blaring from the TV like a nauseating beacon of crap-addery just before they kicked off.
Rick starts from a dead stop, momentarily looking in the wrong direction before letting the discerning viewers know they can "forget the rest" - a tried and true catchphrase.
Sporting a Wally Lewis-era Queensland jersey, he walks up to an unnamed young lady poking her noggin out of the window of a muscle car while waving a fanned out wad of fifties in her grip.
"Take my money," she counsels him, but all this is just ho-hum drudgery compared with the rousing battle cry that follows.
"Go the Maroons, go Queenslander, go the Maroons, go Queenslander," Rick entreats the audience while his dog Buster wags in agreeance.
"Stick it up 'em!"
Holy dooley, folks, we have ascended to absolute summit of Dodgy Ad Mountain and I love it.
Naturally, I had to get in touch and find out what made Rick tick.
Running the advertisement in the prime State of Origin timeslot set him back about $7000 even though business was not exactly booming.
The short film, though about as pleasant as nails on a chalkboard, was not Rick's most controversial to date.
A couple of years ago the Advertising Standards Bureau pulled one of his ads after a disgruntled viewer complained about him chucking a burnout.
"I just smoked up some mud tyres out the front of the shop and they banned it off the TV," he said.
Unfathomable though it sounds, it turns out that cranky old wowser was not the only person who is not a rabid fan of Rick's hallmark brand of theatre.
He has almost broken up marriages because his hook line is so often and infuriatingly quoted at the dinner table, and some people even go to the length of verbally abusing the poor fella.
"I used to get people ringing me up going crook at me, calling me a d***head for doing the TV ads," Rick said.
"Someone's always complaining.
"I just say, hang on, I'm just getting in there and having a go."
It turns out Rick is also a bit of a philosopher with strong views about how this country could pull itself up by its bootstraps.
"The problem's not the politicians. People have lost their virtues. It behoves every man to be a creator of his own environment. So that's what I do. Every man's gotta be responsible for himself," he said.
"We can't get the unions to stand up for us, so we have to stand up for ourselves."
Rick believed too many people in the Far North had given away their identity and asked for someone else to pay their bills.
"That's a big statement and it will upset a lot of people, but it's the truth," he said.
"You've got to dig your own garden and plant your own vegies."
In a world where there has never been a carpet shop without a closing down sale lasting at least eight years, it seems ridiculous to ban an advertisement just because someone is cutting fully sick circle work in a souped-up F-Truck.
But there you go.
In a world of nauseating ads, Rick Lee's latest State of Origin effort was a breath of fresh exhaust fumes.