Mag-Lite Ads: ‘It’s Never Dark’

Add flashlight maker Mag-Lite to the growing number of advertisers embracing patriotic themes in their advertising.

The client, based in Ontario, Calif., last week unveiled its largest adver tising push in nearly a decade, created by Ogilvy & Mather. It features a new tagline: “It’s never dark in America.”

The work is also Ogilvy’s first significant consumer push for Mag-Lite since it won the business last February, said Joe McDonagh, co-president and executive creative director at the Culver City, Calif., agency.

“The brands right now that stand to win, given the economy, the state of the world and current affairs, are the ones that demonstrate a shared empathy for the world we live in,” said McDonagh. “It’s all about carrying on, celebrating little freedoms and going out and doing the best you can. It never will be dark here. We’re always going to prevail.”

Spending was undisclosed, but sources said the account is worth $8-10 million. Mag-Lite spent less than $2 million on advertising in 2000, and less than $3 million a year throughout the late 1990s, according to CMR.

While the ads are not specifically geared to the holidays, the fourth quarter is typically very strong for Mag-Lite, McDonagh said.

Three 30-second TV spots move beyond Mag-Lite’s traditional audience of law enforcement and fire and safety officials to reach women and families, said McDonagh.

In one spot, a family is playing cards in a tent by the light of a Mag-Lite flashlight. They soon check their watches and, guided by their flashlights, make their way through the woods to a spot where they can view a meteor shower.

Another spot shows a boy who pretends to be asleep when his mother checks on him and then uses his flashlight to illuminate glow-in-the-dark stars on his ceiling.

A third has a truck driver using a flashlight to inspect his vehicle before he drives off into the sunrise.

Despite the sweeping, patriotic tagline, McDonagh said the spots are meant to demonstrate “understated, quiet confidence and shared values” to resonate with viewers. “There’s no flag-waving,” he said.

The ads are running on network and cable TV during sports, family and late-night programming, Mc Donagh said. Print ads are also rolling out this month.

Mag Instrument, manufacturer of the heavy-duty Mag-Lite flashlight line, was founded in 1955.