Monday, December 31, 2007

A commercial directed by the great Hollingsworth Morse.



It's funny how their magical romp ends at a real-life McDonald's restaurant. I'm sure that place does bang-up business selling burgers twenty feet from where they grow on bushes for free. I guess they get paid to remove the big googly hamburger eyes so you can eat without your lunch staring reproachfully back at you.

Dig that crazy Mamas & the Papas-esque music!
I have to say the idea of a "hamburger patch" is so repulsive it has kept me from making lunch.



In the early 1970s, Sid and Marty Krofft created the first of many successful children's shows, H.R. Pufnstuf. After the just the first year, Pufnstuf was the top rated Saturday-morning TV show in the country. The franchise was so popular that it spawned a movie and a short-lived theme park.
The Krofft brothers were contacted by a variety of advertisers hoping to capitalize on this popularity. Among them was the defendant Needham, Harper & Steers, Inc., which was trying to secure an advertising account with McDonald's. It 's proposal was to create an ad campaign featuring McDonaldland, filled with characters adapted from the Krofft's popular show.

Needham promised to pay the Kroffts, but later informed the brothers that the ad campaign had been canceled and that no money was forthcoming. The Kroffts promptly sued when the McDonaldland commercials began to air.

Not only did the spots air there was a live traveling show that would tour the United States. Live appearances at newly opened McDonalds were done complete with a traveling set that features all the costumed characters and Ronald himself. Children everywhere had the opportunity to meet everyone from McDonaldland. The set was in the back of a semi truck that had fold down sides to unveil apple pie trees and thatches of singing fries. The set was created with a special staircase for children to come on stage and meet Ronald and get a special secret gift. (mine was a Ronald ring and a Ronald hand puppet.) Years later those children would receive yet another secret gift in the form of obesity and artery clogging plaque.
The truck long since dismantled sits in the PICK-A-PART scrapyard in Sun Valley California. For over a quarter of a century motorists could see an Apple Pie Tree sitting atop a double decker bus, during their travels down the I-5 near the Tuxford Street exit.


The boldness of the spot has faded with time but the spots obvious copyright infringment was not the only link to Sid and Marty Kroft. The bastards at Needham, Harper & Steers were so ballsy that they hired Hollinsgworth Morse, the director of the Pufinstuf feature film, to direct this spot. The music is a Mamas & the Papas rip off and another link to Pufinstuf as Mama Cass played Witch Hazel in the film.


I've been playing this commercial over and over. There is something about the music that seems all too familiar.

It seems to have a Beck "match stick strikes as I'm ridin' my bike to the depot" kinda thing goin' on. It's actually a cool little jingle as I have overlooked my disgust at the hamburger patch and drove to the nearest McDonalds to eat a couple of those happy singing cheeseburgers.


Update: As I haven't had McDonalds in quite a while the cheeseburgers made me violently explosive. With or without the googly eyes... never again.

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