Flashback Friday: Mac Tonight

Time to revisit Loba’s obsession with bizarre company mascots from her youth, thanks to a lovely reminder from one of my favorite ImagiFriendsTM (although we’re friends IRL, so I guess I can’t really refer to him in this way…but I love the classification so very much).

In addition to Spuds MacKenzie trying to convince me that I should like his diluted horse pee beer and Chester Cheetah coercing me to have perpetually stained fingers, or all those kooky kids’ cereal mascots luring me toward their sugary dentally damaging delights, there was this, er, lunatic:


Get it? Lun…never mind. Denizens, may I introduce you to Mac Tonight, from that ever-trippy corps of crazy McDonald’s ad campaigns. As I remember it (and that wonderful oracle of truth Wikipedia kind of confirms), our silver sliver-headed songster came about as a means to let us all know that McDonald’s was a really swingin’ dinner-time kinda of lounge, hep cats. Apparently, Ronald was a little too garish for that evening rush that McDonald’s was hoping to drum up. The Golden Arches wanted less red, more blue. Less clown, more…moon?

I get it…night time is the right time (to clog your arteries and succumb to grease-induced zit attacks), so when the Man in the Moon starts to serenade you about when it’s time to head for golden lights, you listen, you dig? Especially when he’s twirling around on a cloud that’s strangely solid enough to hold the weight of a baby grand piano and him, but still light enough to float through the city streets to spread his snappy tune.

[Loba Tangent: Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to notice how silly it was to have a cloud holding up a piano…TPTB quickly replaced the cloud with…a twirling Big Mac. You know, for the realism.]

I snark now about Mac Tonight, but the truth is that I loved this guy when he debuted. That’s the whole point of these wacky mascots, right? Be so ___________ that impressionable people can’t get enough of you or the product you’re shilling? Sadly, though, he wasn’t cool enough to convince me that I should eat Big Macs, which are actually my least favorite McDonald’s offering of all. I’d even choose one of those mystery fish cinder-block burgers before I would order a Big Mac with that disgusting “special sauce” (there is nothing “special” about ruining mayonnaise with ketchup and relish, dammit).

However, he was cool enough to earn his own amazing cavalcade of merchandise, including T-shirts, cups, jackets, belt buckles, toys, hats…I even remember getting my pudgy little paws on a pair of Mac Tonight sunglasses, exactly like this pair:


I loved these sunglasses and wore them for years…long after the little Mac Tonight logo wore off and there was no evidence that they were anything more than a pair of Ray Charles-esque RayBan ripoffs. But that’s okay, considering that Mac Tonight was nothing more than a corporate ripoff of a Bobby Darrin song called “Mac the Knife.” Get it? Yeah, Mac Tonight’s themes were even nothing more than (marginally) reworked lyrics set to the same Darrin tune. It was so blatant (and so very unapproved) that Darrin’s family finally sued McDonald’s, thus bringing an end to Mac Tonight’s night-time TV ad reign…at least here in the States. Apparently, Mac was revived (and CGIed) in 2007 for new commercials for overseas markets in several Asian countries and South Africa. Here’s what the computer-rendered Mac Tonight looks like:


Gone is the Darrin ripoff song and the baby grand. Now, he plays a saxophone and sings a nondescript tune, like this:


Meh. Not nearly as groovy as the live action Mac…who was consequently played by Doug Jones. Name not ringing a bell? Don’t worry, denizens, his real face wouldn’t probably ring a bell either. He’s made quite a name for himself in Hollywood, however, for playing amazingly intricate prosthetically disguised characters, including this freakishly disturbing character from Pan’s Labyrinth:


He was also the faun in this movie as well as Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies. He was also one of the Gentlemen in one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:


Ah, “Hush.” The episode that introduced Tara Maclay into the Buffyverse. Also, one of the most unnerving hours of television ever filmed.

How the hell did I get from a singing moon to Tara Maclay? It’s a good time for the great taste of the healthy helping of WTFery always ready to be served here at the lair, denizens.

I leave you now with this compilation of Mac Tonight commercials that prompted this whole Flashback. Check the Simpsons cameo. You know you’ve hit the big times when the Simpsons dredge you up! Or, conversely, you know you’ve been on air too long when you have to dredge so deep to the bottom of the pop culture barrel that you reference Mac Tonight (types the wolf who just wrote an entire Flashback Friday on said character…).