Slim Jim Commercial with Macho Man in a Library from 1993
An old commercial for Slim Jims featuring the "Macho Man" Randy Savage in a library.
Tags: Slim Jim Jims Macho Man Randy Savage Commercial Ad
Added: 2 years ago
[three boys are sitting at a table in an old library, looking bored as they sift through dusty books]
MACHO MAN: [violently knocks down the door]
OLD FEMALE LIBRARIAN: [sitting at the front desk, she jumps in fright at the sudden unwelcomed noise]
MACHO MAN: [to kids] So, higher education got you down? Well, snap into it!
[as Savage bites into the Slim Jim, the sound causes a nearby computer to explode]
MACHO MAN: Snap into a Slim Jim!
[the kids bite into their Slim Jims, and the sound makes the librarian's desk literally explode in a shower of torn book pages and catalog cards]
MACHO MAN: Tear into the spice! That beefy juicy taste!
[the kids again bite into their Slim Jims, and this time the sound makes all of the books fall off of the shelves and onto the floor]
OLD FEMALE LIBRARIAN: [angrily walks up to Savage] What is the meaning of this?
[the kids look up at Savage, who responds by biting into his Slim Jim, causing a rush of air to blow the librarian's wig off]
MACHO MAN: Need a little excitement? Snap into a Slim Jim!
There are hundreds of meat snacks on the market, but only one has cultural-icon status: Slim Jim. Conjuring up images of rednecks and truckers and consumed mostly by teen-agers, the beef stick is the butt of countless jokes. David Letterman lists eating Slim Jims as one of the top 10 things about being an American. The brand's chief spokesman is on World Championship Wrestling, for crying out loud.
But step into virtually any convenience store in the country and you'll find them next to the cash register. For their Raleigh-based maker, GoodMark Foods Inc., that register keeps ringing - to the tune of about $90 million a year, half the company's sales.
The challenge was finding a suitable spokesman. GoodMark considered, then rejected comedian Sam Kinnison and NFL star Lyle Alzado, both now dead. They were too wild. Then something curious happened during a focus group, recalls Mike Ritchey, GoodMark's former marketing director and now marketing vice president at Austin Foods in Cary. The company had sketched out ideas for an ad, and one of the characters was a costumed superhero. "The kids thought it looked like one of the professional wrestlers they knew. And they started giving the life story of these wrestlers. We said, 'We think we're onto something here.'"
GoodMark and its new ad agency, Stamford, Conn.-based North Castle Partners, started looking at wrestlers. "We looked at a bunch," Ritchey says, "and saw that there were a few of them that ranked right up there with guys like Michael Jordan in recognition and believability with the kids." And wrestlers come cheaper. "We said, Michael Jordan for 2.5 million bucks or the Ultimate Warrior for a lot less."
That was Slim Jim's first pitchman: the Ultimate Warrior, otherwise known as Jim Helwig, a former chiropractor now selling real estate in Phoenix. He hawked Slim Jims briefly until he retired from the ring in 1992.
GoodMark replaced him with Savage. The company considered him the first time around but was warned off by the wrestling federation because, one insider says, "he was switching to the dark side" at the time. Savage, whose real name is Randy Poffo, is a second-generation pro wrestler who bounced around minor-league baseball for four years before blowing out a knee in 1974.
"He's very easy to work with," Marketing Director Jeff Slater says. And a real pro, too. His wife left him the day before he shot his first Slim Jim commercial, out in Los Angeles. But he stuck through the shoot, gamely bursting through a library wall in one scene. "Higher education got you down?" he roars to three kids buried in books. "Tear into the spice!"