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In 1993, the innovative former Chicago theatre executive credited with being the first to put butter on movie popcorn, passed away. David Wallerstein, who by then was the longest-serving board member at McDonald’s, had become a good friend. It was his idea to offer large fries at McDonald’s — I remember buying bag after tiny bag of 15-cent fries at McDonald’s as a kid. Dave never missed a McDonald’s marketing or communications meeting, and was always sharing his wise perspective and counsel on what might click with customers. The insights he brought to enliven the movie theatre business carried forward to enhance the world’s largest restaurant company. Here’s his obit from The New York
David Wallerstein; Theater Innovator In Midwest Was 87
David B. Wallerstein, an innovator in the movie theater business, died Monday at his home in Chicago. He was 87.
Mr. Wallerstein died of cancer, said Chuck Ebeling, a spokesman for the McDonald’s Corporation, which Mr. Wallerstein had served as a board member since 1968.
Mr. Wallerstein retired in 1965 from the presidency of the Balaban & Katz Corporation, a Chicago-based entertainment company that during his tenure was the largest movie theater chain in the Midwest. He joined the company in 1926 when he was 21, after graduating from the Harvard Business School, and quickly became one of the leading showmen in the country.
His innovations included adding live shows to the movie screenings. Such stars as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Mary Martin and Judy Garland sang before audiences in the company’s showpiece, the Chicago Theater, from the 1930′s to the 1950′s.
Other innovations were putting butter on popcorn, ice in drinks and caramel on apples at theater concession stands.
In 1946, he was involved in the purchase of Chicago’s first television station, WBKB, whose successor station is WBBM, the CBS-owned affiliate. He was also one of those responsible for putting the “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” children’s show on television in the 1950′s. A native of Richmond, he graduated from the University of Virginia in 1924. In his 80′s, he was still an active hiker, downhill skier and traveler. Last year he journeyed to the Antarctic and had planned to travel to the North Pole until health problems interfered.
Mr. Wallerstein’s wife, Caroline, died in 1982. A son, Michael R. Wallerstein, died in 1974.
He is survived by two sons, David L. Wallerstein of Washington and John M. Rau of Orange County, Calif., and one grandson.
Anyone watching the media or live election events must by now be aware the advertising and Public relations industries run the national elections. They frame the messages, train the candidates on how to present effectively, create and produce ads, media appearances, special events, election materials, and on and on. With billions of dollars available, their reach and penetration into the political process is immeasurable.
Candidates are “packaged” like cereal and celebrities, movies and TV shows.
Yes, Presidential candidates deserve professional communications advice and support, but the outsized funding now pouring into the campaigns, this “packaging” pf the candidates has become abusive of truth and credibility, in my view. If we had election funding controls, the abuse of ad/PR capabilities in national elections could be put back into proper perspective.
Let’s put the marketing genie back into the political bottle!
Avis is no longer committed to their pledge “We Try Harder,” according the 4A’s Smart Brief, below. I remember years ago when I was working in public affiars for Allstate when they tried to move away from their iconic slogan, “You’re in Good Hands with Allstate.” Well, the “Good Hands” people saw the light and went back to the words they were known by. I wonder how long it will take Avis to do the same?
Avis ends the era of “We Try Harder”
Avis is discarding its iconic, half-century-old tagline “We Try Harder,” as brand looks to target business travelers with a new line: “It’s Your Space.” Chief Marketing Officer Jeannine Haas, who has been in the job for about a year, defended the decision to drop one of the most successful taglines in history by saying the new tag is “reflective of [Avis'] ongoing mission to be a customer-led, service-driven company and presents the brand in terms of the customer experience.” Advertising Age (tiered subscription model)(8/27)
This morning, I read a wonderful story about how McDonald’s ad agency in Columbus, Ohio, has coined the word “Nocturnavores” in reference to those customers seeking out “Breakfast After Midnight”. McDonald’s now has some 127 restaurants in northern Ohio serving customers 24 hours a day, and offering breakfast after midnight, instead of after 5am. Thus, the breakfast “day part” is extended to 10 hours (midnight to 10am) at McDonald’s, reflecting and anticipating dining trends, especially among younger people. http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2012/07/31/mcdonalds-launches-breakfast-after.html.
The term “locavores” was coined several years ago to refer to people who choose to buy locally-grown food. The 2012 spring Ebeling PR-ize for cause-related public relations at Bradley University was won by a team that created a campaign called “The Peoria Locavores,” promoting locally-produced food in the Peoria, Illinois market.
The German Institute of Service Quality (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/10/how-did-ikea-beat-out-mcdonalds-for-germanys-most-popular-fast-food/246164/) has done a new survey in Germany in which furniture store Ikea beat out McDonald’s for fast food service. Seems furniture stores in Germany are promoting breakfast, and even roof garden restaurants, with distinct success and popularity. While this may seem like a fluke in consumerism, the idea of combining a retail consumer experience with fast food does make sense, as evidenced by the McDonald’s we see in Walmarts and gas station service centers in the U.S. Perhaps the idea of window-shopping for furniture — fun but not necessarily costly — is a new draw for fast food customers?
The so-called “Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine” has done a good job of attracting attention, but a bad job, in my view, of educating people with it’s new billboard near the Green Bay Packer’s legendary Lambeau Field in Green Bay, that portrays a death figure with an anti-cheese nutritional message. On the group’s website, they portray the death figure wearing a bright yellow cheesehead, their attention-getting gimmick, but on the new actual billboard, the threat of a lawsuit from the Milwaukee-based company that manufactures the trademarked cheeseheads caused them to remove the popular symbol.
This stunt by the so-called “Physician’s” group, is the sort of distortion that obscures the correct message: that moderation in eating cheese, as in all things, makes sense. See the original “cheesehead” billboard as still posted on the “Physician’s” website: http://www.pcrm.org/media/news/censored-billboard-near-lambeau-warns-of-cheese
If eating 3 times a day is a sinister idea, then the critics of Ronald McDonald have a point. But what does Ronald do? He helps parents make breakfast, lunch or dinner, or a snack, a happy experience for their kids. Most parents would say that is helpful to them. McDonald’s offers many appealing menu choices for kids and parents, along with known nutrition, portion control and quality control. Add a little parental guidance and what do you have — a Happy Meal! McDonald’s is on the upward curve in nutritional responsibility.
Yes, it is amazing news in these times, but some newspapers are actually increasing their circulation. More incredible to me is that the Chicago Sun-Times (of Roger Ebert fame) is leading the list.
Here’s the link to the story: http://www.businessinsider.com/top-25-newspapers-growth-los-angeles-times-roger-ebert-2011-5
For the news about the TV news media, check out: http://www.mediabistro.com/tvspy/
Dennis West, publisher of the Beacon, our local paper, not only ran the pic of me reading his rag on the Great Wall, but he ran in the very same issue, on the opposite page, another not so hot shot of me reading it in our suite overlooking Pudong, Shanghai’s financial district. A “twofer,” indeed. Befitting the relationship between any good PR person and the media, I bought him lunch at a nearby Asian restaurant, as thanks.