Worthington's 'Dog' Spot

Cal Worthington and his infamous “dog” Spot flooded West-coast televisions with quirky ads persuading viewers to buy a car and drive off with a deal. Of course Spot was never a dog. In parody of a competitor’s ad urging viewers to buy a car and save a pound puppy, Worthington’s Spot changed regularly from gorilla to goat, hippo, bear, elephant, horse, rollerskating chimp, and other exotic and surprisingly wacky animals. While good ol’ Spot had viewers laughing, Worthington’s jingle, set to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it” and sung and recorded by Worthington, had viewers annoyed but singing along:

“Here’s Cal Worthington and his dog Spot:
If you need a better car, go see Cal
For the best deal by far, go see Cal
If you want your payments low,
if you want to save some dough
Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal.”  

Like Spot, the lyrics varied:  

“If your wife has started naggin’
and your tail pipe is a-draggin’
Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal.”

Worthington wasn’t only “top sales dog” for his humor and song, but also for the lengths he’d go to make a deal. In addition to showing viewers his “acres and acres” of cars he’d be willing to sell for only a dollar down and finance with his own finance company, he offered two free meals to anyone who saw him first about buying a car. On several occasions Worthington said he’d stand on his head to make a deal, which he literally did (once while standing on the wings of a biplane flying upside-down).

Worthington’s wacky ways made him millions (earning $200-$300 million a year during the 80s) and turned him into an icon. He was on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson several times, and played himself or was parodied in various movies from Hickey & Boggs to Beetlejuice.

Eventually, state regulations watered down his ads, and Spot was retired, but the Worthington empire lives on through Worthington’s grandson Nick Worthington.