Ad Track: Studio 54 seats up for auction; Hardee's goes big

Paging Mr. Warhol. You, too, can link your name with infamous 1970s disco Studio 54, which is now a theater. To raise money, owner Roundabout Theatre Co. is auctioning naming rights to individual seats at $1,200 up to $15,000 for prime orchestra locations. Plaques will go on chair backs, and 116 of the 996 seats have been sold. For a virtual tour, go to Studio54seats.org, a site by digital ad shop Continuity.

Costly chow.

As Taco Bell hypes 79-cent eats and McDonald's peddles $1 Double Cheeseburgers, Hardee's could be accused of going wacko for rolling out one of its costliest burgers. The Prime Rib Thickburger — a ⅓-pound Black Angus beef patty topped with thinly sliced prime rib, horseradish sauce, Swiss cheese and grilled onions — will set you back $4.49.

What gives? "We've never been ones to follow fast-food herd mentality," says Brad Haley, Hardee's executive vice president of marketing. "While other places are hopping on the value bandwagon," he says, Hardee's will keep selling "big, delicious burgers."

Big describes not just the size and price: Each burger weighs in at 780 calories and 48 grams of fat.

A healthy slice.

For all its fat faults, at least pizza has redeeming qualities — such as the calcium in cheese. Now, Papa John's will ratchet the health quotient up with its May 26 launch of a whole-wheat crust. One large slice will have 2.5 times the fiber of a large slice of its regular cheese pizza. The 40 grams of whole grains are 80% of the daily recommended amount, says founder John Schnatter.

Offering Papa John's healthy competition: Pizza Hut said this month said it will roll out "The Natural" with a multigrain crust and sauce from organic tomatoes.

Move over, Carrie Bradshaw.

The upcoming Sex and the City movie isn't the only summer chick flick getting marketer attention. Unilever's Ponds will promote Mamma Mia! The Movie, based on the Broadway show built on songs from pop group ABBA. Among the tie-ins is an interactive ad for a June issue of People magazine. It has a Ponds cleansing towelette sample, plus an audio chip that plays a snippet of the film theme — and can record 10 seconds of audio.

Wisdom.

Creative director Mike Hughes of The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., who's had lung cancer for more than a decade, addressed a graduate school on work/life balance: "I've had major surgery, major radiation treatments — and now I'm on my third round of chemotherapy. My experience has helped me to answer a question I hear all the time: How do I balance my personal life and work life?" His response: "Balance isn't what I seek in life. Joy is what I seek in life. Messy, unbalanced, unpredictable joy."

A non-smoker, Hughes also offers this advice for those who do: "Try to quit one more time. For me."

By Laura Petrecca, Theresa Howard, Bruce Horovitz

ASK THE AD TEAM

Q: Is that Meat Loaf in the AT&T GoPhone ad? And is that his son lip-synching with him or is that great casting? Also, is the redhead playing the mom Jo Dee Messina?

— Bruce Applegate, Bethlehem, Pa.

A: Yes, it is Meat Loaf in his first TV commercial playing a dad whose son asked for a cellphone. And the mom is '80s pop princess Tiffany. Actor Adam Cagley plays the son, with his lyrics sung by Isaac Young.

Meat Loaf, who shed his rocker hair 13 years ago, sings Paradise By the Dashboard Light, an anthem (the original clocks in at 8:28) from the album Bat out of Hell. BBDO New York tweaked the lyrics to be about a cellphone, with the OK from Meat Loaf and original lyricist, Jim Steinman. There are 30- and 60-second ads, but Meat Loaf nixed a five-minute Web version.

"Even if they had tripled my price, I wouldn't have done it," Meat Loaf said in a phone interview. "A little 30-second or 60-second (version) is fine. I can parody that. It won't get in the way, and I won't feel like I've sold out me or the song,"

Meat Loaf now is filming a movie, Kick the Can, and recording a new album, due in 2009.

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