For most people, the number 666 has ominous associations. It’s the mark of the beast, the sign of the Antichrist, or part of the absurd name of what looks to be one of the worst new television shows of the season.
But when you sing the words 666 to anyone who watches local TV around here, you’ll get a surprisingly cheery response. The number for the Carmel limo service is 212-666-6666, and the jingle, as well as the hilarious commercial in which it’s featured, has battered it’s way into New Yorker’s hearts and minds, so much so that I’ll occasionally hear people humming it after a long night at the bar.
But now, an impostor has come on the scene. An upstart competitor named Dial 7, with the call number of 212-777-777, is advertising a limo service of their own and horribly, thankfully, they too have a commercial with a catchy jingle. Here, we investigate both commercials and hope to define a clear winner.
Pros: Where to start with this classic? We come in with the instantaneously catchy telephone number itself. And then, in knowing jingle form, the destinations to which one could use a ride are enumerated. “Going to the airport!” “Ridin’ round town!” And then my personal favorite, the high-pitched exhortation: “Shopping or a movie!” Several of the actors in the commercial get a solo turn during this portion of this song, but when a large, tan, Italian-looking gentleman comes on the scene, everyone sings a beat-tapping, finger-snapping bridge that leads inexorably back to that famous call number.
Cons: There are a number of gaffes throughout the commercial. The Asian guy forgets the words during the part of the song that goes “Ride Carmel and be on time.” The portly, orange-shirted gentleman who is a key player at the beginning of the commercial is tragically relegated to the background. Meanwhile the leading lady is utterly forgettable, totally overshadowed by the aforementioned Italian guy, who should really just have a commercial of his own.
Pros: The new commercial, a winning entry in a contest that Dial 7 held, has a lot going for it. Turning its back on the old-fashioned 666 jingle, Dial 7 embraces a Rap&B mash-up. The rapping is execrable (“Dial seven seven seven seven seven seven seven times”), but luckily, it’s soon over, overpowered by a strong-voiced limousine driver, who refers to her customer as “Big Daddy.” The video is heavily sexualized, as the limo driver’s lips are seen pouting and enunciating heavily on the “sevens.” The suggestions appear to be that the man in the limo is about to be one lucky customer. Also, the man in question appears to be named Pants Velour, and I dare anyone to root against a rapper named Pants Velour.
Cons: The rapping is detestable. The commercial suggests that there’s a good chance your limo driver will sleep with you, or will at least refer to you as “Daddy,” all of which is most likely false advertising and will otherwise be uncomfortable for anyone who does not like to be called Daddy.
Carmel. Although the Dial 7 commercial injects some much needed sexuality in the usually snore-inducing limo service game, and has a more forward-thinking jingle, the point of an advertisement like this is to be memorable. And anyone who watches it more than once won’t be able to get 666-6666 out of their head. Exactly what Carmel (and Satan) want.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 9, 2012