Character Study: Mac Tonight

Before the era of Fourth Meal had college students scarfing down Quarter Pounders and Crunchwrap Supremes into the wee hours of the morning, fast-food places usually shut their doors and drive-thru windows before bedtime.

But McDonalds changed everything in 1986 by expanding its hours of operation, and at the forefront of its marketing push was a lunar lounge-lizard named Mac Tonight. Looking dapper (and, let’s be honest, a little disturbing) in a suit and sunglasses, this moon-faced mascot – played by chameleon-like actor Doug Jones, of “Hellboy” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” fame – crooned a promotional tune based on Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife.”

The long-running campaign, which consisted of 29 TV spots, lasted until 1997.

Though his advertising days are long behind him in America, Mac Tonight appeared in a few foreign ads as recently as 2007, and photos featuring the character can still be found inside the occasional McDonald’s location.

Character Study is an ongoing series featuring background trivia on classic advertising characters.