Methodist University and McDonalds Partner for 'Marketing Bonanza'

United Methodist-related Clark Atlanta University (CAU) is seeking to stand as one of nation’s leading historically black schools with the aid of America’s largest fast food chain.

The Atlanta-based school is proud to be featured in McDonald’s three new value meals commercials, starring the drummers from the school’s Mighty Marching Panther Band, that is now airing across the U.S.

According to the United Methodist News Service (UMNS), Clark spokesman Larry Calhoun believes that these commercials represent a ”marketing bonanza” and a “wonderful opportunity” for the school’s publicity.

“These markets are important to us because our students and potential students come from some of these same markets where the commercials are airing across the country,” said Calhoun.

He also said the dollar value of the commercials in terms of attracting new students “cannot be measured.”

The McDonald's advertising executives took note of the school after the movie "Drumline" was filmed at Clark campus. During the time, ad executives were in search of a Southern school for the company's commercials.

The first commercial, shot last November, features Clark’s drumline—the band members who play percussion instruments—drumming away in their uniforms and munching on french fries.

One of the student performers, drum major Cass Gray, is amazed by how the ads have increased his popularity on campus and in his hometown of Anderson, S.C.

“Everywhere I go, I am asked, ‘Aren’t you the guy in the McDonald’s commercials?’” said Gray.

Gray viewed the selection of Clark for the commercial as inference of proficiency of black institutions.

Historically black schools are just as good as all the other schools out there,” he said. “Our students are just as good as the other students out there.”

After the commercial featuring the drumline, McDonald’s accepted Clark’s offer to showcase its Chicken Selects. Two versions the commercial are airing featuring Jackie Payne, Ms. Clark Atlanta University 2005-06, one of four Clark women chosen from 150 candidates to appear in the two chicken commercials.

Being featured in three commercials is “a wonderful opportunity” for Clark Atlanta University, Calhoun said. It “helps make people become more aware of the university as one of the leading historically black universities in the country. It also says something about our students and the quality of the students we attract and help to develop.”

To celebrate the commercials and its partnership with McDonald’s, the university hosted a celebrating event at a local eatery where the 80-member band met and celebrated with the company representatives.