Book ‘Em Danno

Photo of USC Trojan Marching Band promoting the “Hawaii Five-O Marching Band Mania” contest

The University of Maryland made a splash in the recent “Hawaii Five-O Marching Band Mania” contest, winning $25,000 from television network CBS to promote the new series remaking the 1970s classic.

“We knew we had something very special with the ‘Hawaii Five-O’ theme song because it is one of the most recognizable TV themes of all time,” says George Schweitzer, CBS marketing chief. “I knew it was a great marching band song. I decided we should encourage bands to do it.”

To promote the contest, Schweitzer contacted the marching band at his daughter’s school, the University of Southern California (USC). CBS filmed the USC Band in a “5-0” formation in Los Angeles and several weeks later did a shoot with the senior class on the beach in Hawaii—where they happened to be for the school’s football opener against the University of Hawaii.

“We were out in the sunshine playing and having a good time,” says Tim Larson, USC drum major. “It was an organized trip to the beach with instruments.”

A few members got to meet and film a short scene with the show’s stars, Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. All the footage was edited together to create a “Hollywood Meets Hawaii” promotional spot.

The nationwide “Hawaii Five-O Marching Band Mania” contest invited college bands to play the theme song and enter a video. Fans voted for their favorites to win the $25,000 prize and have their video shown during the series premier.

“Those who participated really did so with a lot of energy and gusto; the formations were great,” Schweitzer says. “It’s really about the spirit of ‘Hawaii Five-O’ and the iconic music and theme song, great brass, great drums; it really resonated with all the schools.”

In its winning performance, The University of Maryland spelled out “Hawaii Five-O” and the show’s catchphrase “Book ‘em Danno” across the field during a halftime performance.

“We just put in all the iconic values that we possibly could and would be familiar to those who knew the show,” says Dr. L. Richmond Sparks, director of bands at Maryland.

The band plans to use the prize money to replace its 13-year-old uniforms.

About author

Elizabeth Geli

Elizabeth Geli is the assistant editor of Halftime Magazine and a journalist/communications professional in Southern California. Her 11 years at the University of Southern California (USC) Trojan Marching Band included time as a flute player, graduate teaching assistant, and student advocate. She holds a bachelor's degree in Print Journalism and master's degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts) from USC.