Spangles shake commercial

"Spangles shake"

Audio clips


A pretty blonde in a white dress shakes her hips and makes love to the microphone: Come with me, baby. Spangles got the shakes going on. Oooh, come with me, baby. Spangles is shakin' up some fun.

Daniel Goldstein, a 30-year-old KU graduate student, is irritated by the commercial-the corny song, the low production value. Yet, he cannot get enough.

"She's kind of annoying," he says. "But I find myself watching it. And then I think to myself, 'Why am I watching this?'"

Remember a world with no "mu-mu-mu-mudslide?" No "$2.99, are you out of your mind?" No "Holy moly, guacamole?" That was nearly a year ago, before the advertising blitz that preceded the April arrival of Wichita-based restaurant Spangles in Lawrence.

Has any commercial onslaught been so pervasive, so something-catchy, annoying, cute, depending on whom you ask-as that of Spangles? Call it the Spangles phenomenon. Life changes in small ways. Catch phrases are drilled into the subconscious.

Walking down Mass. Street, nearly everybody's got an opinion.

"I think they're a little obnoxious," says Rebecca Chico, 29. "The whole going back to the '50s thing kind of expired in the '80s."

"I think they're entertaining," says Michael Folendore, 30. "Granted, they're corny, but they're catchy."

"I think they're corny," says Corey Sievers, 36. "Me and my kids make fun of them all the time. They make fun of the way the lady says 'Shpangles.'"

Advertising creeps into the mind, and, not to delve too deeply into marketing theory, if the product is remembered, business will increase. For Spangles, which recently opened its 22nd location, business has increased dramatically since the restaurant chain reinvented itself as a '50s-style diner in the mid-'90s and doubled its advertising budget to about 4 percent of its revenue.

How a Spangles commercial saved my life

If it weren't for the annoyance of a Spangles radio commercial, Lawrence resident Sarah Greenwood might not be alive today.

About a decade ago, Greenwood, 35, was sitting at a stoplight in Wichita, where she resided at the time. She was first in line in the left eastbound lane.

A Spangles commercial came on the air. "Oh God, stupid Spangles ad," she thought.

She reached to change the station. The recent replacement of her car battery had wiped out her radio presets, so she looked down to turn the dial. Meanwhile, the light turned green.

"The guy in the right-hand eastbound lane goes off the line, and a cop car comes through southbound, T-bones him and kills him," she says.

She says the police car ran the intersection without its siren or lights on. If it weren't for the Spangles commercial, Greenwood says she probably would've entered the intersection on time and been the one smashed.

"Although I won't eat at Spangles," she says, "I owe them a debt of gratitude."

"We have to rake through the clutter and keep our name in front of people," Spangles co-owner Dale Steven says. "If we thought our commercials were done in poor taste, we wouldn't be doing them-even though some people may think that they are. But we do the best that we can with our budget."

TV in Lawrence may never be the same. So, if we're going to see these ads every day until the end of time, why not learn something about them?

Come on, baby, don't be shy. This mudslide was meant for you and I. Strawberry, wild cherry, here we go. Reese's, Butterfinger, and an Oreo-o. Mu-mu-mu-mudslide.

The magic of television

If you could go as far as to say magic happens, here's how it happens.

A small group of people are sitting around at a Wichita company called digitalBRAND Communications Inc., which has two-and-a-half employees and has been making Spangles TV commercials for nearly 10 years. In 2005, the company made 23 commercials-almost one every two weeks-at $3,000 apiece.

An intern blurts out, "Holy moly, guacamole!"

Soon, a short commercial is shot inside a Wichita Spangles, using one camera, a wireless lavalier microphone, and natural in-store lighting. A man takes a bite into his guacamole bacon cheeseburger and says, "Holy moly, guacamole!" Later, a second ad is shot with the same catch phrase, this one starring Miss Kansas and an actor from Wichita.

Simple as pie, the source of continual annoyance for one Lawrence citizen is born. "I turn it every time," says Anthony Birchfield, 19.

Eric Zoller, president of digitalBRAND Communications, knows that although some people love the ads, some hate them. He knows there is something about them that sticks in people's minds. He tries to explain it, but he can't. The ads are simply aired a lot, he says.

"I'm not really a philosopher of advertising, so I'm not exactly going to have anything super-compelling to tell you," he says. "But it's definitely that they're on a lot : Love it or hate it, whatever you like to say, it's just one of those things that you can't help but hear."

Mmm, zesty. Holy moly, guacamole!

The sound of Spangles

What happens on camera is only part of the equation. What would a Spangles commercial be without the music?

That's where Mark Scheltgen comes in. Before he entered the scene more than a year ago, the only Spangles song was "Spangles, it just tastes better," and the old recording didn't have the '50s feel Spangles was going for.

The first song Scheltgen wrote was "mu-mu-mu-mudslide," which he recorded in his studio, Digital Boy Records, with Wichita bluesman Matt Walsh. Scheltgen, who used to play in Lawrence with the band Room Full of Walters, has gone on to write a collection of songs about burgers, French toast sticks, banana shakes, and even a romantic love song about a BBQ steak melt.

"The thing I hear the most is, 'My kids don't stop singing it,'" he says. "Kids always sing the songs-'$2.99' and the 'mudslide' and all that. It seems like most the time the kids are driving the parents nuts."

Spangles gives him a word or a few phrases they want included, and he and some musician friends put together a jingle. He usually plays all the instruments except drums, and his wife contributes some of the singing.

Well, the news of the deal been gettin' around. Craziest one I've seen in town. First thing I said when I saw the sign, "My, oh my, think I'm out of my mind." Gourmet supreme value pack. Gourmet supreme value pack. $2.99, are you out of your mind?

The face of Spangles

For the majority of Rene Steven's life, she had no idea she slurred the letter "s."

Even after several years of appearing in TV commercials as the face of the company, no one had ever told her she was being made fun of for the way she said Shpangles.

"Usually people are always coming up to me and being very nice-'Oh, I love your commercials. I like your commercials,'" says Steven, Spangles' director of operations and the younger sister of co-founders Dale and Craig Steven. "So I don't always hear the negative part, because someone's not going to come up to me and say, 'I hate your commercials.'"

Spangles gyro commercial

Spangles gyro commercial

But when Spangles launched its website a few years ago, the nasty e-mails started coming in.

"People would e-mail and the whole e-mail would be, any time there was an 's,' they would write the e-mail the way I talk," she says. "They would never leave who they were. Chickens. I would always e-mail back something funny-I would e-mail them back just the way they e-mailed me.

" :It really does bother people. People think it's a speech impediment. But, you know what, if they have to have something to pick on me, that's OK."

The public proponent of countless burgers, shakes, and value packs, Stevens doesn't love all the commercials.

"You're not going to hit a home run on every commercial," she says. "I see some commercials, I like some of them and some I don't like."

She admits that, in Lawrence, going from cold turkey to Spangles' heavy dose of advertising may be overwhelming.

"It's probably different for Lawrence, because in Wichita we didn't always start this full-blown when we advertised," she says. "We couldn't afford advertising as much as we do now, so we kind of weaned ourselves into the market, whereas in Lawrence we went full-force. There was no weaning process of Spangles. It was just 'boom.'

"I'm sure it overwhelmed the media a bit to where I think some people probably said, 'Gosh, they're on all the time.'"

Dipped into syrup. (Spangles French toast sticks.) Sprinkled with powdered sugar. (I love French toast sticks.) Freshness made to order. Spangles. It just tastes better.

Yes, TV in Lawrence may never be the same.


Buck Rowland 15 years, 5 months ago

Spangles commercials are annoying. I can't question that. In fact, as I write this, the Rene Steven's production annoyance is on. But, but, but, but, but, the commercials produced by the Spangles team have never been as bad as the commercials produced by local Channel 6. Our WorldCom production team OR its tools seem to be the lowest common denominator. I would reccomend that the locals take a look at the Spangles commercials and see what they can learn. They could also enlist some junior high students who would likely have better tools and talents on hand for production.

Anne Tangeman 15 years, 5 months ago

The commercials seemed counterproductive to me with the green looking eggs. Yuck. Also they don't seem to have any minorities in the commercials. What gives?

shutyourface 15 years, 5 months ago

It is quickly reaching the point that any individuals involved in the making of these horrid advertisements should be excommunicated from our species. You know, kicked the hell out. Not because the commercials are cheap and easy, like prostitution. Not because of extreme unoriginality and terrible acting, like prostitution. Not even because of (from what I can only guess) a want-to-be (and due to you bastards that feed the hand, soon-to-be) corporate tight-ass with a voice only a boozed up trucker's wife could love, and for kicks, who may have been a prostitute:the trucker's wife, of course.. But, because these commercials make me want to plunge my face directly through my television tube in dire hopes of electrocution and quick death. As painless as it may be, it would serve a soothing relief towards the maddening crap I would've had to have witnessed. Fortunately, the remote is usually close by. But someday, the batteries will die and I will have to fight the urge of suicide, and probably lose. Death by shhhhpangles'tising.

Also, does anyone else notice the aroma of that place during business hours? I'm not questioning about inside, but more a half-block radius. It's not the cow/chicken/dog/cat/rat/horse/(:bear?) meat smell one finds in the alley spots and tuck-aways of a striving city, or fast-food laundry. It's not the worst smell in the world, sure. But an odor is there. burnt sewer. A fart gone wrong, you know?

shutyourface 15 years, 5 months ago

...and everytime she says 'gyro', god murders a whale.

aircap 15 years, 5 months ago

Ha ha ha! Now you Lawrence folks know what it's been like for us here in Wichita for the past 20 years. Just feel lucky you missed the "Spangles Rap" era. (No, I'm not kidding.) Bonus luck: You're way less likely to walk into a Spangles and actually come face-to-face with Spangles spokesowner Renee Steven, which happens to me every so often here in ICT. The horror...the horror.

formerkjer 15 years, 5 months ago

the commercials just leave me homicidal. now that I know Wichita is responsible, I'm going to e-mail an acquaintance in Wichita and thank him. oh, and I, too, also have a major issue with "s"s being verbalized as "sh". that's why Joanna Newsome can suck it.

MrsAntchrist 15 years, 5 months ago

When the Schpangles commercials first started popping up around here, I happened to mention to my cousin -- who lives in Wichita --that we were getting all of these "really annoying commercials with some poor woman with a lischp ..." He immediately told me the whole Steven family/Schpangles story and ended it up by saying, "So, essentially these two dudes started pimping out their sister because they thought her lisp was funny."

davisnin 15 years, 5 months ago

When those commercials first started I came across a ton of forums full of Wichitites blasting that lady and I now understand their reasons (though not their reasons for living in Wichita). I refuse to eat there based solely on how much they annoy me, even though I hear it's decent. Bucky's needs an ad campaign. Perhaps mocking the Spangles ad's (not done by Ch 6) for some Lawrence dominance.

And how many people were eating gyros in the 50's?

KellsBells 15 years, 5 months ago

Holy Moly Guacamole!!!! That woman's hair DOES NOT MOVE!!!!!

Avery Pearson 15 years, 5 months ago

II too refuse to eat at spangles based solely upon the nauseating ad campaign. By the time the store was in operation, the commercials had killed it for me.

jj18 15 years, 5 months ago

What's more annoying than a Spangles commercial? A FRONT PAGE ARTICLE ABOUT SPANGLES IN LAWRENCE.COM!!!!!! Come one folks. You can do better. The writing isn't bad but the subject is terrible. I know there has to be more deserving material. Who cares?

jj18 15 years, 5 months ago

I will say that the m-m-m-mud butt comment was pretty funny. OK I'll admit this is kinda fun to discuss but still not deserving of a front page article.

introversion 15 years, 5 months ago

Personally, I was totally content ignoring the effing commercials, as a first step in making them go away. Now that, our "cultural" weekly reader has decided that somehow they're culturally or artistically valid enough to get a front-page article, I might have to kill someone or something.

I know it's a crappy time of year as most bands hibernate until spring, but I've gotta say this was a pretty lackluster attempt at finding something to write about. What's next, that D-bag from pay-less furniture? I suppose at this point I shouldn't give anyone any ideas.

Please give me an ounce of solace and let me know that the submission of this article and it's appearance on the front of was the result of a lost bet.

introversion 15 years, 5 months ago

Excuse me. I misspoke. I might have to kill shomeone or shomething.


Jabberwocky 15 years, 5 months ago

To those bashing people who make these or local commercials (Wichita or Ch6 crew)... keep in mind that it's a good bet that the advertisers themselves (Spangles, etc) are the ones responsible for how horrible a commercial is. Often they come up with the idea, and of course the budget.

The vast majority of local business owners in Lawrence are notoriously cheap. Somehow I doubt the case is very different in Wichita. Good video production costs a pretty penny. If Spangles only paid for 5 hours worth of work... that's all they're getting.

Also keep in mind that you probably have no idea who made a commercial, just because it's airing locally. All stations get commercials in from a hundred different sources of varying quality.

George_Braziller 13 years, 4 months ago

The Spangle's commercials are sooooooooooo obnoxious. Just hearing Renee's voice makes me clench my teeth because it's so grating.

alm77 13 years, 4 months ago

I've never seen a Spangles commercial. But we've pretty much stuck to for our regular shows, but not exclusively. Is this a Sunflower cable thing??

Commenting has been disabled for this item.