CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

October 29, 2009

Cullman business owner becomes an unlikely Internet celebrity

By Tiffany Green
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — When Robert Lee was approached about making a YouTube commercial, he was apprehensive.

But when Internet comedians Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal showed up, he got into character and played along, he said. The result is a wonderfully cheesy Internet commercial that more than 300,000 people have viewed since it was posted last week.

Lee’s business, Cullman Liquidation Center, was chosen for an online commercial through the credit company MicroBilt, partly because the company wanted to feature a business in the South  — and with the owner’s name being Robert Lee, it was a no-brainer.

“That is really his name, and some of the commercial is real,” said Nancy Macon, office manager at Cullman Liquidation.

In the commercial, Lee says, “A bouncer in Birmingham hit me in the face with a crescent wrench five times, and my wife’s boyfriend broke my jaw with a fence post. So if you don’t buy a trailer from me, it ain’t gonna hurt my feelings.”

Lee was willing to admit some parts of the commercial are true to his own life, but he wouldn’t say which ones. He doesn’t describe himself as a redneck but said he definitely had to play one for the commercial.

“As hard as times are, I thought everyone needed a good laugh,” he said.

Since the commercial was posted on YouTube less than a week ago, there have been more than 300,000 views. Cullman Liquidation has gotten calls from all over North America, including as far away as Canada.

“We had no idea it would cause this much attention,” Macon said.

If given the chance again, Lee said he would not do the commercial.

“I wasn’t going to tell anybody about it. My little brother, who lives out of state, called me about it and I hadn’t even told him,” he said. “But everyone I know has already seen it and commented on it. My competition said they will use it against me.”

Lee has not yet watched the video and does not plan on it. He doesn’t like seeing himself on screen.

He did, however, hear it for the first time Wednesday morning, when he did a live interview with a radio show in Chicago.

“We haven’t had any negative remarks, but there is probably that small percentage that didn’t get the joke,” he said.

Macon, the office manager, has gotten numerous calls about the commercial.

“When I came into work on Monday, the first call I got was from Canada,” she said. “We didn’t even know the commercial was online yet.”

Unfortunately, the promotion has not brought any business to Cullman Liquidation.

“We certainly haven’t sold any homes because of it,” Macon said.

The commercial can be seen at www.youtube.com by searching for “Painfully Honest and Epic Mobile Home Commercial.” It has generated more than 1,000 comments from viewers around the world, who wrote things like, “This is the greatest commercial ever made,” and “Robert Lee for President 2012!”

Lee is taking all the attention in stride.

“I thought everyone needed a good laugh at my expense,” he said.

Tiffany Green can be reached by e-mail at tgreen@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.