Barbara Lippert’s Critique

This new McDonald’s “Got a buck? You’re in luck” spot, promoting an expanded dollar menu, stars that Mac daddy of real estate/casino ownership himself, Don ald J. Trump. And, given the hefty amount he’s likely getting for lending his Q rating, the (Mc)Don ald is trying to be a good sport, standing in a trademark skyscraper office, wearing his red tie, pursing his lips and emoting the hell out of every word of the script. But given the genuine value of the dollar menu, it’s a puzzlement that this is the best they could come up with.

“I’ve put together some really impressive deals, but this thing you’ve pulled off, it’s amazing!” he says, addressing some mystery guest behind a desk, really working every cutesy reference to his own talent for wheeler-dealership. But it doesn’t matter: I didn’t hear a word, because as he spoke I could not take my eyes off the squashed quarter-pounder sitting on his head. Or maybe it’s a nesting Big N’ Tasty, the bargain sandwich he’s plugging. Either way, it’s extremely distracting.

It’s not as if he’s new to the camera: Trump has played himself in many movies, and appeared in several commercials, for his own properties and in one memorable post-divorce Pizza Hut spot with Ivana. The hair was always bad, but seems even more of a caricature lately. I know it’s inappropriate to comment so cattily on a person’s appearance (demonstrated on a recent Sop ra nos), but this whopper of a comb-over, this gravity-defying, tornado-funnel thing, is something he chooses to do.

Why not take a page from Rudy Giuliani and have the courage to quit? I say embrace your inner thinning—working with nature sends a message of in tegrity. These days, sincerity starts with the end of the comb-over.

But the hair is not the only mystifying anachronism here. In the reveal, the joke is that the person he’s been having the animated one-way conversation with is … Grimace, the McDonaldland character introduced back in the ’80s, when corporate high flyers were worshiped as masters of the universe—just like the Donald. (By the way, the office flaunts an enormous “T” against the window. That big-letter thing has to go. It’s less Mary Tyler Moore and more like the giant crooked “E” of Enron, and I’m sure Trump would not choose to show a gross insensitivity to corporate greed.)

For no discernible reason (Grim ace is known for shakes, not bur gers or McChicken), Trump’s foil here is an enormous, egg-shaped, purple, hairy blob, with tender blinking eyes—a cross between a less evolved M&M and Barney the purple dino saur, tossed with a bit of the California Rai sin gone to seed. He never actually speaks. “You’re a man of few words—I like that,” Trump says. Grimace just clinks his eyes poignantly.

But that doesn’t stop the Don ald from cementing the relationship. After a cutaway that makes the Big N’ Tasty and the McChicken sandwich look truly delish, Donald is shown from the back, standing at his office window with his arm around Grim ace. “Together, Grimace, we could own this town,” he says, and we realize he’s not used to putting his arm around something quite so wide and ovoid (although Grimace might be available to travel as Miss Universe for the next pageant).

The company promises more such pairings of McDonaldland characters and high-profile cel ebs, but hasn’t signed off on any as yet (Winona Ryder and the Hamburglar? Michael Jackson and his Mc Nug get Buddies?). But regard less of the oddity of the combo or the throwback quality of the person pitch ing them, in this economy, dollar sandwiches will sell themselves.

Still, why not try to come up with endorsers who don’t represent wretched ’80s-like excess? Warren Buffet probably doesn’t want the job, but as long as we’ve already had the free-spending McDon, why not go with Scrooge McDuck?