Gallery's McIngvale makes Super Bowl pitch

Gallery Furniture made it to the Super Bowl!

Sort of.

The store's owners bought a TV commercial during the big game, and it wasn't actually a Gallery commercial. It was for a tennis tournament sponsored by Gallery and held at Houston's Westside Tennis Club, owned by Gallery's Jim McIngvale and his wife, Linda.

There was no Gallery logo in the spot, no mention of Gallery at all. But close enough.

McIngvale's unmistakable voice narrated the spot touting the Tennis Masters Cup, a year-end finale for men's tennis featuring last year's champions from various other tournaments.

"Nine days, eight champions, one master," McIngvale said in the ad. "Are you in?"

The McIngvales paid between $2 million and $2.5 million for three 30-second Super Bowl spots.

"Someone asked me if I bet on the game," McIngvale said. "I said, yeah, I bet $2.5 million." It was by far the most he has ever spent to promote anything, he said.

While Gallery was not mentioned by name, he said he has taken lots of calls about the ads and is sure the store is getting credit from consumers who recognize it as the event's local sponsor.

"It's good marketing for us, and tennis brings in a very good demographic," he said.

In a USA Today poll of viewers, McIngvale's spot fared poorly compared with other Super Bowl ads — it was among the five least favorite. His local furniture commercials often suffer a similar fate, repeatedly dubbed by a university marketing class as the worst locally produced.

McIngvale said he doesn't mind because the ads are still effective.

"As long as they're talking about me," he said, "I'm happy."

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

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