‘Mac Tonight’ Going Nationwide


That McMan-in-the-moon ad is about to take on a national glow. The “Mac Tonight” campaign that began as a Southern California-only commercial for McDonald’s is going nationwide.

That may not seem like a big deal. But for the medium-size Los Angeles ad agency that created the ad--Davis, Johnson, Mogul & Colombatto Inc.--it could mean big things. Getting even a small portion of McDonald’s national advertising account would represent a major feat and could mean more business from the fast-food giant.

McDonald’s, the nation’s 9th-largest advertiser, is expected to make the announcement later this week. The bulk of McDonald’s $550 million in advertising last year was created by Chicago-based Leo Burnett Co., which has handled the account for nearly a decade.


The $500,000 ad--which is set to the tune “Mac the Knife"--features a giant, man-in-the-moon look-alike who plays the piano while perched atop a two-story Big Mac. Several different versions of the ad have been running in the Southland since January. New commercials would likely be filmed for a national run.

In the ad, the title of the song “Mac the Knife” is changed to “Mac Tonight.” The campaign--which took nearly one year for the ad agency to create--is an attempt to coax people to eat dinner at McDonald’s. Dinner time sales at the fast food chain are traditionally much slower than at lunch.

It was the Southern California franchisers who first turned to Davis, Johnson, Mogul & Colombatto for Mac Tonight. Among the firm’s other clients are U.S. Borax, the Chief Auto Parts division of Southland Corp., and Knott’s Berry Farm. In all, the Los Angeles firm has annual billings of $115 million.

This is also not be the first time that Davis, Johnson, Mogul & Colombatto has caught the eye of McDonald’s corporate executives. In the late 1970s, a local promotional game that the agency created was also picked up nationally by McDonald’s.

Kareem Has Class

Just when Los Angeles-area football fans are beginning to think about the Raiders and the Rams, the advertising world is about to give them yet another dose of the Lakers.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar--clad in a tuxedo and a pair of purple and gold athletic shoes--will begin appearing this month on billboards from Los Angeles to New York. The slogan on the billboard: Class of ’87. The shoes are a new basketball line introduced by Adidas, and the billboard campaign was created by the ad firm Young & Rubicam.

Abdul-Jabbar is also appearing in ads for Campbell’s Soup, where he says: “When I walk into a kitchen, I look for two things: high ceilings and Campbell’s Soup.”

Ads Aimed at Latinos

It has had little problem getting women to buy wine coolers. But over the past few years, Seagram Beverage Co. has spent millions of dollars in advertising trying to convince more men to drink the new beverages. After spending $45 million last year and even hiring Bruce Willis, the company figures that nearly half its customers are men.

Now, Seagram is trying to tap into the Latino market. Willis, however, isn’t being used as a spokesman for that group. Instead, in a series of ads created by the Newport Beach ad firm, Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados Inc., young Latinos play baseball, dance and even roller skate while enjoying the beverage. The ads began appearing in the Los Angeles and San Antonio markets earlier this month.

More than 100 actors were cast for the TV commercials. Although the company found Latinos to play 12 of the 13 key parts, it was unable to find a Latino to fill the role of a roller skating waitress. “There wasn’t enough time,” said Luis Miguel, creative director at the ad firm, which specializes in Latino advertising.

The actress that the agency did hire, Anna Birden, a professional roller skater. But that was not evident during one take that was not used in the commercial. With the cameras rolling, Birden attempted a 360-degree turn while carrying a tray full of Seagram Coolers. She fell. “All I could think of” afterward, said Birden, “was that I hadn’t dropped any cooler.”

Levi’s Singing the Blues

For yet another year, Levi’s will sing the 501 Blues.

“The campaign is still working,” said Dean Christon, a marketing specialist at Levi Strauss & Co. “So if it’s not broken, we’re not going to fix it.”

The world’s largest jeans maker will spend another $20 million on the 4-year old ad campaign--but add a number of 15-second spots. The campaign was created by the San Francisco office of Foote, Cone & Belding, which also conceived the highly successful “Dancing Raisins” campaign for the California Raisin Advisory Board.

Since the campaign began in 1983, Levi’s has pumped more than $100 million into it.

Levi’s ads will continue to feature originally composed music by recording artists that include Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Jesse Colin Young and one of the campaign’s most popular stars, Bobby McFerrin, who is able to mimic the sounds of instruments with his voice.

Over the past three years, 67 original compositions have appeared as sound tracks in Levi’s ads. The music, said Steve Neely, executive producer at Foote, Cone, “is the inspiration for the action.” Although composers are given little direction, they are warned not to write jingles. Said Neely: “I want to hang up the phone when I hear that word.”

Lifeguards Get Shades

The firm that makes those high-tech, high-priced sunglasses often worn by Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon has fit its frames on some of the most commercially desirable eyes of all--Southland lifeguards.

In a promotional ploy earlier this month, more than 120 lifeguards in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach were given Revo sunglasses--which retail for $150 each--by Palo Alto-based parent company CooperVision Inc. The idea to put the pricey shades on the high-profile lifeguards came from the company’s ad agency, the Los Angeles office of Della Femina, Travisano & Partners Inc.

“We figure the best way to demonstrate how well our sunglasses work is to put them on folks who are out in the sun all the time,” said Dan Kunst, vice president of marketing at Revo. “We realize that most lifeguards can’t afford Revos,” he said, “so we’re giving them to them.”

Late last week, the company took publicity photos of the Newport Beach and Laguna Beach lifeguards--all decked in their Revos. The company hasn’t yet decided how it will use the photos.

As for the lifeguards, well, they say the freebie sunglasses will help them see better. “You can’t be on the beach all day without sunglasses, so why not use the best?” said Ken Jacobsen, lifeguard chief for the Newport Beach Ocean Lifeguard Assn. “But we are not promoting this brand.”

Companies are always trying to get Newport Beach lifeguards to use their products, Jacobsen said. Sun-block products, for example, are provided to them by Panama Jack Suntan Products, and AMF Voit Inc. once supplied the lifeguards with swim fins. “Some people have also asked us to wear advertisements on our suits,” said Jacobsen, “but we won’t do that.”