Barry Glazer: "Don't urinate on my leg and tell me it's raining."
"if you look at all my commercials over all the years, you'd probably get a pretty good feel for what I'm about," says the 66-year-old Pimlico native, who urges people in his commercials to take on the big boys — the insurance companies and hospitals and other companies. He's a plaintiffs' attorney and proud if it.
"Doctors are always complaining that plaintiffs' attorneys are the reason why rates are so high," says Glazer. "Insurance companies are always complaining that lawyers are trying to make more money, to get them for every penny they can. …There's a general animosity toward plaintiffs' attorneys that's always out there. That's part of why I do the commercials that I do, to counterbalance that negativity a bit."
Take, for instance, his most (in)famous commercial, a screed against insurance companies that pay less than you owe on a car that's been totaled. He rails against insurance companies that assure their clients they are in "good hands" or "what good neighbors they are." And he ends with the classically indignant line, "Don't urinate on my leg and tell me it's raining."
"I knew it would be controversial," he says. "I wasn't sure they would even air it."
(Another of his commercial tag lines: "You can put lipstick on a pig or an insurance company. It's still an insurance company.")
Glazer says he writes the scripts for his commercials, often working on them for months. If they've made him any enemies, he hasn't heard from them. And no, he doesn't get nervous in front of the camera.
"It's a lot less stressful than trying a case," Glazer says. "I like the recognition. I don't know if it's an ego thing or what. But I enjoy it."
Joe Tomarchio Jr.: "Mr. Tire"
Joe Tomarchio says he has "a face made for radio," which may explain why that face won't look familiar to most people. But as the voice of Mr. Tire, the guy who complains about competitors' outlandish claims (That "really rusts my rotors"), who promises tires "on the rim and out the door" for one low price — that voice is instantly recognizable.
"That personality is me, that is not a put-on," says Tomarchio, 55, a Lochearn native now living in Howard County. "Some people, if you don't know me and you've never met me before, you might think that I'm screaming at you. I'm not. That's just the way that I talk, the way that I come across."
He never set out to become a vocal star, Tomarchio says. When he and his brother, Fred, started putting together spots for their business about 12 years ago, their advertising agency had other people ready to do the voice-overs. But Tomarchio wasn't satisfied.
"I felt that the advertising that they were doing for us wasn't aggressive enough," he says. "It wasn't memorable, it wasn't distinctive. So they said, 'We're gonna send our top guys out, and we want to interview you for about two or three hours.'
"We talked about the business and the passions I have about the business. They came back about a week later to make a presentation, and they said, 'We found a guy that we believe can deliver the message with all the passion.' …They were pretty coy about the way they did it. And then they said, 'It's you!'"
Incredulous at first — "Get the hell out of here," he remembers thinking, "I ain't doing no damn commercial for TV" — Tomarchio allowed himself to be persuaded.
"They said, 'Look, you come across, you certainly have a Baltimore accent, Baltimore slang. It plays well. You know your business, and you're passionate about your business. We think you should do it.'"
He did, and some 12 years later, he's still doing it — even after he and his brother sold the business to Rochester-based Monro Muffler Brake Inc., which has 785 stores nationwide. His brother retired, but Tomarchio stayed on. He's currently executive vice president of store operations, and he remains the voice of Mr. Tire. His commercials have even spread across the Eastern half of the U.S. In St. Louis, he says with a laugh, people heard his accent and asked if he was Canadian.
"Canadian?" he says. "I'd never heard that before!"