Spangles: It just sounds better

12:44:14 PM CDT - Friday, February 25, 2005

By Shannon Littlejohn

If you've been a proper couch potato this month, you might have seen a television ad for local eatery Spangles that has a familiar feel to it.

You know the one? Four guys in tuxedos singing a cappella, backed up by a larger choir. A golden glow to the concert stage. A fabulous organ in the background.

Wait a minute. We know that organ, those voices. Who came up with this fun promotion of WSU's A Cappella Choir?

"It's one of those things we were not looking for," said Tom Wine, director of the choir and associate professor of music education at WSU. "It just fell into our laps."

Wine and three members of the choir were returning from Madrigals at East High School when hunger struck, said Wine. They all piled into the Spangles at Central and Hillside. Exuberant from working with the high school students, they were playing around singing the Spangles theme song when Rene Steven, director of operations for Spangles, strolled through.

The rest is TV history. A deal was made, as was the commercial featuring Troy Fischer, Wine, Andrew Penrose and Devin Woods, the original four Spangles diners, as the foursome on the ad, which promotes Spangles sourdough turkey bacon ranch sandwich.

Wine said the commercial has drawn a lot of positive attention. How about personal raves for individual performances?

"Well, I was introduced at church as a Spangles guy," he said with a laugh. "And I went out and observed a student teacher - she gave the downbeat and her choir sang the 'Spangles: It Just Tastes Better' line. So I'm a hit with the middle-school crowd."

The whole experience was a hit with Wine. He got to show off the talent in his choir, he got to sing ("The students didn't know I could actually sing"), and the spot was filmed in Wiedemann Recital Hall on campus. The initial idea had been to tape the four "Spangles guys" singing at a Spangles location.

"That was the real plus," said Wine. "It's such a beautiful hall; that was a win-win for both of us (Spangles and the university)."

Another plus, said Wine, was working with the independent producer of the ad, Eric Zoller, a WSU alum who turns out to be WSU administrator Peter Zoller's son.

If you haven't seen the ad, it will run through the month, then appear randomly with the rest of Spangles' commercial mix. It can also be heard on the radio.

You can also see and hear the ad at www.spanglesinc.com/ads.php and, in fact, check out other recent Spangles ads, including one featuring WSU head men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon. You can even vote on your favorite.

When asked if he plans other such promotions of the choir and WSU, Wine laughed again, "I haven't hired an agent."

The Wichita State University A Cappella Choir and Cowley County Community College Choir will perform for the Kansas Music Educators Association at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, in the Century II Concert Hall in downtown Wichita.

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