Some of the budgets for TV commercials are full-on obscene. They blow millions trying to make their products look brighter or tastier or just simply better than anything else you have ever seen. They hire famous directors and give them carte blanche to cajole their favourite actors and actresses to burn money in service of making their brand “the” brand. It’s not hard to see just how darn hard it is for smaller businesses to even compete in the advertising department. How do mom and pop outfits even have a chance of getting noticed?


Well, in a sea of cheap, and often painfully lame, local-joe ads begging to get noticed amongst the superstar handsome Madison Avenue creations one ad stands tall. Truly, this is one of the coolest low-budget or even possibly no-budget small business ad campaigns I’ve ever seen. Please, let me be one of the first to introduce you to the Trunk Monkey.


What is a Trunk Monkey? It is only the latest and greatest imaginary invention for car owners ever dreamed up, compliments of the folks at Suburban Auto Group, a business made up of two car dealerships in lovely Sandy, Oregon. They’re not big, not national and not likely all that well-known, but they are just brilliant when it comes to getting attention for their dealership.


In their series of ads we see various individuals engaged in multiple situations inside their automobiles. In one, a very nervous man is holed up inside his car while a huge crazy dude is screaming at him from outside his window, threatening and cursing him out for cutting him off or something, and promising a painful beating as soon as he gets out of the car.


Our panicked driver looks left and then right trying desperately to decide how he can possibly get out of this horrible situation. Finally, he looks up and sees a button just above his sun visor marked “Trunk Monkey.”


Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the General Motors OnStar safety system but in a nutshell, it’s a button located in pretty much the same place in most new GM cars that you can push and become instantly connected to a GM operator who can help with most problems you may have. They can call for help, unlock your car, start your engine, find a gas station or even just provide all around advice. It’s a pretty cool idea, sort of a virtual satellite concierge.


In my humble opinion Trunk Monkey leaves OnStar choking in the dust.


Our frightened driver finally pushes the “Trunk Monkey” button. We see the trunk of his car open and a monkey gets out, holding a tire iron and looking like he knows how to use it. Quietly, he comes up behind the bad dude and just drifts him across the back of the head with the crowbar, dropping him like a bad habit. I was particularly impressed by the double smack the thug receives, first from the crowbar and then when he falls forward and smacks his head against the car window just before sliding to the ground.


Our hero, now safe and satisfied, high fives his trunk monkey and then orders him to get back inside the trunk, ready for the next emergency. Classic.


They have at least six of these ads and maybe more. Trunk Monkey delivers a baby, foils a car theft, defeats aliens, bribes a cop, rounds up juvenile delinquents, chaperones a young couple on a date. He can do anything!


To have ads play as pro as these ones do and to come from such a humble place, meaning a couple of Oregon car dealerships, shows that talent is way more important than big budgets. Suburban Auto Group has used the ludicrous idea of a “Trunk Monkey” to brand their dealerships and set them far apart from the crowd. They sell hats and t-shirts and even stuffed animals. And now they have a commercial that plays around the world thanks to the internet. You have got to check out their ads at


Trunk Monkey may be the silliest, craziest, most ridiculous idea to come out of somebody’s head in a while but I’m willing to bet if OnStar had something as cool as this GM would be selling a whole lot more cars than they actually do.


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