This past Friday, I flashed back to the McDonaldland gang whose mission it was to get kids to pester their parents for more Happy Meals. This seemed to work out quite well despite the utter creepiness that plagued the original 70’s cast, and the sheer retardedness that hampered the revised 80’s group. Since Ronald and his strange pals were such a success getting kids to crave a fatty meal, the brain trust at Mickey Dee’s figured it might very well work on adults as well.
Seeing a need to alert people to the fact that McDonalds was the perfect place to eat dinner, the McAdwriters brought the best of both creepy and retarded together to create the one and only Mac Tonight. Here is an awesome compilation of some of Mac’s classic ads that aired from 1987-1990, along with a few bonus features and plenty of retro awesomeness as well…
If you didn’t live through the 80’s, you’d never understand….
So, how did McDonalds come up with such an unusual character like Mac Tonight? Well, I had Buster break into the company’s vault in Oak Brook, IL and extract the secret recipe for Mac Tonight’s creation that was hidden from the world once people realized how awful it was to release something so hideous on the burger eating world….
First, since you want to attract people to your restaurant for dinner, and most people have dinner after the sun sets, you want some visual cue for your mascot that makes people think of the evening. Since a prostitute might not be suitable for using in commercials, the McDonalds ad creators settled for the moon. Good choice.
Next, make your mascot a lounge singer since they are thick as fleas in a squirrel tail in the dinner hour. Former American Idol contestant John Stevens was too young to be the inspiration for Mac Tonight since he was born when the campaign was first being created, but his soft, smooth voice is perfect for putting one to sleep. And since he was a favorite of my Mom on the first season she watched American idol, this will score some points with her as well. We like to keep Mom happy here at The Nest…
Third, be sure to sprinkle a healthy dose of current pop culture trends into your character to make him more relevant. Max Headroom was huge in 1987… maybe the only year he was ever huge… and it’s hard to look at Mac Tonight and not have flashbacks to the world’s first CGI stuttering dumbass. They both share a similar creep factor that is proven to sell more Big Macs.
Finally, to finish off your mascot creation and to be sure he’ll be a proven hit, shamelessly steal off something that is already successful. Bobby Darin had a huge hit three decades earlier called “Mack the Knife”…. hey, wait a minute! Mack the Knife… Mac To-night! Everything at McDonalds is “Mac” something, and “tonight” says dinnertime! We can have our crazy moonheaded man sing in our ads! Heck, Mack the Knife is so easy to parody, it practically writes itself!
- When the clock strikes half past 6, babe
- Time to head for golden lights
- It’s a good time for the great taste — dinnah!
- At McDonald’s, it’s Mac Tonight
PERFECT!!! Only McDonalds didn’t learn its lesson from the McDonaldland legal fiasco a decade earlier…
Bobby Darin’s son Dodd, who probably had plenty of experience in court suing his parents over that horrendous first name,
decided to cash in on stuck up for his deceased father and took McDonalds to court in 1989 over using his dad’s song and style. Little Dodd Darin won an injunction a few years into the campaign that essentially stopped Mac Tonight in his lunar tracks. While Mac Tonight has made infrequent appearances since he initially got blasted from the sky in 1990, including a brief mid 90’s revival, he just wasn’t the same without his groovy little song he sang as he floated through the air on his flying piano. Mac Tonight has for all intents and purposes become just another footnote in the bizarre history of McDonalds advertising.
After two straight retro posts centering around the land of Mickey Dee’s, we here at The Nest are getting mighty hungry. We just might have to get our tails down to the golden lights at half past six and make it Mac Tonight! Here’s to the crescent headed king of late night swing, who helped America seriously consider letting some teenager without a hairnet make dinner for us. You may have been permanently eclipsed from our view, but you will always be a legend of 80’s pop culture… first in our hearts, our minds, and our dinner table.