The year was 1986 and Ronald McDonald, the iconic McDonald’s clown, found himself in a spooky situation. He was starring in “Scared Silly,” a terrifying tale where he encountered a mysterious Count living in Transylvania… and that’s no joke!
We might have exaggerated a few of those details ever so slightly. Yes, the year was still 1986 and Ronald McDonald was the star of the story. Advertising agency Leo Burnett was working on a new Halloween-themed spot for McDonald’s starring Ronald and the McNugget Buddies from McDonaldland. The new commercial needed to scare audiences silly — and nobody knew how to add more “silly” to McDonaldland quite like Rich Seidelman.
For more than two decades, Rich Seidelman worked on ad campaigns for McDonald’s and the McDonaldland characters. He was an art director at Leo Burnett in 1986 when this spot was shot. Writer Barbara Fallon worked alongside him to create it. Seidelman gave me a peek into the commercial’s ghoulish creation.
Inspired by Count Dracula, Count McNuggula has the ability to shape-shift from a bat into one of the McNugget Buddies! He’s full of puns and wants to know what Ronald is doing in his “neck of the woods.”
“The McNugget puppets and sets were created by my friends Tony Urbano, Tim Blaney, and their band of wacky puppeteers.” Seidelman recalls.
Here we have Ronald meeting the Count for the first time. Looming ominously in the background shadows is the Nuggetvania Castle. Count McNuggula offers Ronald an invitation to his home and to see what they’re making inside. Should Ronald accept the offer?
Of course he does — the Count’s puns are too good to resist! Inside the Nuggetvania Castle, Ronald quickly encounters The Mad ScienNugget. With a tuff of white hair and a lab coat, The Mad ScienNugget is busy cooking up secret sauces with the rest of the McNugget Buddies including FrankenNugget.
The laboratory’s control panel is the perfect place for McNugget Buddies to cook secret dipping sauces! All you need to do is pull the lever “on” when you’re ready to create. Hopefully, the sauce simmers as planned and there aren’t any accidents. If there are, Ronald is here to save the day with McDonald’s sauces!
Urbano, Blaney, and their puppeteer team put the set together, but where has the electronic lab gone? Seidelman says that Linda Magruder Zufall, a former supervisor at Leo Burnett, has put the lab into storage at the McDonald’s Production Studio.
Scared Silly Returns!
“Scared Silly” would later be revised in 1991 with the original cast of characters, including Count McNuggula and Ronald McDonald, returning to Nuggetvania Castle.
There are even more chills, thrills, and dips in the sequel, and all the puns you could ever ask for out of the McDonaldland gang. Happy Halloween!
Image credits: Filming in McDonaldland.