The Sad Story Behind Trivago Guy

If you’ve seen any ads for the German travel agency Trivago, you’ve no doubt taken note of their oddly disheveled spokesperson, known in Internet circles simply as “Trivago Guy.”

Trivago Guy

While I’m supposed to be listening Trivago Guy’s pitch for finding the best price on a hotel room, I’m instead transfixed by his “sad divorced dad” vibe. I find myself asking questions not about how to find the best fleabag hotel room in Terre Haute, but more important things like, “Where did this guy come from?” “What unspeakable tragedy befell him to make him show up to an ad shoot dressed this way?” But most importantly, “What the hell happened to Trivago Guy’s belt?”

Turns out the answer was there all along, and it can be found in The Sopranos.

In the season one episode “Down Neck,” we find out that Trivago Guy did in fact have a former life and a clean-shaven face. He was once known as Mr. Meskimmin, gym teacher for Verbum Dei Catholic school in New Jersey.

Mr. Meskimmin (Tim Williams, aka Trivago Guy)

Not shown: He STILL is not wearing a belt.

It was Mr. Meskimmin who reported A.J. Soprano and his friends for showing up to gym class loaded on sacramental wine. While A.J. was only briefly suspended for his offense, Meskimmin’s life was effectively over.

Unbeknownst to Meskimmin, the chubby underachiever he reported was the son of DiMeo Family Capo Tony Soprano. In retaliation for getting his son into trouble, Soprano pressed Verbum Dei into firing Meskimmin with no severance benefits.

With no money and no job prospects, Meskimmin’s life collapsed. His wife of many years left him. He was forced to skimp on basic necessities like razor blades, shirt buttons, and belts (although he always found money for booze). He bounced from hotel to hotel, developing a keen sense of the cheapest place to stay in whatever town he happened to drift into.

Eventually, his misfortune became his salvation. Armed with this hard-earned knowledge of finding cheap accommodations, Meskimmin tried to find employment with companies like Expedia, Priceline, and Orbitz — to no avail.

Feeling that his life in America was going nowhere, and facing continual harassment from Soprano and his crew, Meskimmin decided to flee. Without the means to purchase a plane ticket, his desperation led him to stow aboard a Lufthansa flight to Germany — even the knowledge that he could die from sub-freezing temperatures was no deterrent.

Once in Germany, the details of how he ended up in the Düsseldorf offices of Trivago are still unknown. But something about this sad, empty husk of a man with a very particular skill caught the eye of Trivago executives.

The rest is advertising history…

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The Naughty Springmaid Girls of Esquire Magazine

Back in February I shared a cheesecake-filled gallery of advertisements for South Carolina-based Springmaid Fabrics, most of which featured racy illustrations of women and their poorly-concealed panties. What I didn’t know at the time was that two of those ads actually first appeared as front covers for Esquire magazine. It’s always interesting to me to see how illustrations like this get re-purposed for things like magazines, ads, or album covers.

The first piece, “Protect Yourself” by Frederick Smith, depicts a trio of comely young lasses waiting backstage at a skating show. Here is the original work:

Protect Yourself, c. 1946, by Frederick Smith

(via South Carolina State Museum)

Smith’s illustration was first used by Esquire for their April 1946 cover, like so…

Esquire magazine cover, April 1946

(via Esquire)

… and was picked up by Springmaid Fabrics a few years later:

Vintage Springs Cotton Mills/Springmaid Fabrics ad

The second work is called “How to Kill Two Birds” and was drawn by E. Simms Campbell. Here’s the original…

How to Kill Two Birds, c. 1948, by E. Simms Campbell

… the ad…

Vintage Springs Cotton Mills/Springmaid Fabrics ad

… and the February 1948 issue of Esquire, which varies ever so slightly if you look at the man on the left.

Esquire magazine cover, February 1948

(via Esquire)

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Congrats to Lexus on the Most Obnoxious Holiday Commercials of All-Time

Lexus "December to Remember" message - Suck It, Poor People!

Lexus, a perennial contender for the most annoying holiday commercials of the year, has roared back to the top of my Most Hated Christmas Commercial list in 2011 for all-time after being temporarily dethroned in 2010 by the Hyundai Hipsters. Incredibly, they’ve found a way to amp up the obnoxiousness even more this time by playing cutesy with their stupid “December to Remember” jingle. If you haven’t seen this spot from 2011, get a barf bag handy:

Look, I don’t normally encourage class jealousy or class warfare, but this is just fucking ridiculous. Who exactly does this campaign appeal to, if not privileged, upper-class white people without an ounce of shame? At least this year’s Acura holiday ads try to be funny.

If it makes you feel any better, feel free to sing along with this jingle with some lyrics I’ve come up with:

“I’m a giant douchebag / look at my car / don’t you wish you were just like me!”

(Turns out this is actually a real song called “Family & Friends” by Steve Kujala. Good for him for cashing in, I guess.)

2013 Update: While Lexus has toned down the smarm factor just a bit this year, there’s still a lot to loathe. Now these stupid fucking red bows are being elevated to holiday icon status. Ugh.

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It’s a Ford Falcon, Charlie Brown

1963 Peanuts/Ford Falcon print ad

Several years before classic TV specials such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown secured the place of Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts characters in the hearts of millions of Americans, Charlie Brown and his friends came to life to sell cars.

In 1959, Ford Motor Company secured licensing rights to the Peanuts for use in a series of color TV commercials for its cars and the intros for Ford-sponsored The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show. The first spots appeared in January 1960 and marked the first time that Schulz’s creation had been animated. Here’s one of those early show intros:

While that show left the air in June 1961, the Peanuts’ association with Ford was just getting started. The gang’s most high-profile (and memorable assignment) was to help pitch a brand new Ford vehicle.

For the 1960 North American automobile model year, Ford made its first foray into the compact car market with the Falcon. Designed and priced to compete with the likes of compacts such as the Studebaker Lark, Chevrolet Corvair, Nash Rambler American, and Plymouth Valiant, the Falcon lasted through the 1969 model year — when it was replaced by the Maverick.

From 1960 through the 1965 model year, the Peanuts were everywhere in support of the Falcon — print ads, TV commercials, and official Ford literature such as sales brochures. Here’s one of the very first Peanuts Ford ads, animated by Bill Meléndez for Playhouse Pictures. In it, Charlie Brown is handing out cigars to celebrate the birth of Ford’s new “economy twins,” the marketing phrase used to sell the Falcon and the third-generation Fairlane.

Meléndez is a name most Peanuts fans should know, as he was hand-picked by Schulz to direct those great, early holiday TV specials. Already you can see that the classic Peanuts animation style is firmly in place for characters like Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and Snoopy.

1962 Peanuts/Ford Falcon print ad

After Ford’s licensing deal with Schulz and United Features Syndicate expired, that was the end of the Peanuts appearing in Ford Falcon ads. In 1965, the year after that deal ended, A Charlie Brown Christmas aired. A few decades later Peanuts embarked upon its most visible and memorable marketing association yet when they began an association with MetLife insurance.

Here’s one final treat from the Peanuts Falcon days — a beautiful color animation cel and background from a 1962 TV ad. It features a great Bill Meléndez illustration of Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy.

1962 Peanuts/Ford Falcon TV commercial animation cel

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Auction Finds: Whistle Orange Soda Advertising Signs

Circa 1940s, here are two fantastic cardboard cut-out advertising signs for Whistle Orange Soda. Whistle, a Vess Beverage Company product, was developed by a Vess salesman named Charles Leiper Grigg in 1919/1920. Grigg went on to invent what became 7 Up. As far as I can tell, both Vess sodas and Whistle are still being sold.

Both of these signs feature the well known “Thirsty? Just Whistle” tagline. The first one  in particular is just so spectacular to look at.

Whistle Orange Soda cardboard advertising signWhistle Orange Soda cardboard advertising sign

For more auction finds, click here.

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