"McDo's got Dolphy!"
This was the buzz that spread around Jollibee HQ when we learned that McDonald's had contracted RP's King of Comedy to do some commercials for them. This was about the time when McD was desperately trying to Filipinize its image in a bid to win over patrons to their side.
True, one of Jollibee's reason for success was that we were a homegrown brand and we had somehow instilled a sense of patriotism in our loyal customers. McDo realized this early on and so tried to present itself as maka-Pinoy and maka-masa. What better way to do this than to show Dolphy as a McDonald's fan.
There was reason to be concerned about this because Dolphy had such a great appeal with his fans. He was recognizable and he was likeable. He was also very expensive then so it just showed to what lengths McDonald's was willing to go to grab market share from us.
I don't exactly recall the content of the Dolphy TV commercials,but one showed him doing the "M" sign with his arms and hands on top of his head. The other which was an indirect attack on Jollibee showed him dressed up as a superhero,cape and all, punching a gigantic bee that was attacking him!
We could see the immediate impact of these commercials specially on kids who would imitate Dolphy's "M" sign. McDo also made sure that these were aired during primetime so you could just imagine the brand recall during the first two weeks of airing.
Unfortunately for McDonald's though, that's about how long they could put their material on air!
At about the time the commercials started being shown, Dolphy figured in a "scandal" that became the talk of the town. It involved sultry singer-actress Zsa Zsa Padilla. Rumor had it that she and Dolphy had an affair. At the time she was still married, (though not happily, I heard) to a dentist Dr. (I forget his first name)Tatlonghari,who coincidentally, lived just several floors below our unit at Continental Court in Greenhills.
Because of the scandal, Dolphy didn't appear "wholesome" anymore in the public's eye at the time. McDonald's had no choice but to pull out the commercials!
Lucky for us!
A few months later, Jollibee came out with a TV commercial featuring well-known singers who were members of the OPM (Organisayon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit). The likes of the Apo Hiking society, Basil Valdez, Celeste Legaspi, Nonoy Zuniga,Subas Herrero,Noel Trinidad and others sang; "Awitin namin..Pilipino!"
It was a counterattack to McDo's Dolphy commercial! Basic Advertising, our ad agency then, had come up with a brilliant but subtle way of pitting Dolphy against all the members of OPM. And the song was a claim that the brand that OPM was supporting (Jollibee) was the real Pilipino!
Judging from the way our sales boomed that year, you can make a guess which brand's celebrity endorsement worked better.