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My First Love

I am and will likely always be a die-hard sentimentalist. I still own many of the books of my childhood, the first sports medal I won in 4th grade (for the three-legged race), an old, empty Band-Aid tin and the business card a dear man hand-scribbled his home phone number on when we first met.

This same man often bemusingly accuses me of hero-worship. Somehow I attribute this trait to my sentimentalism, as I believe that I collect and admire images, artifacts and memorabilia from the defining moments in my life; ideas and experiences that provoke and move me and, well, things I just want near me as amulets of inspiration. He is mildly perplexed at my curious intrigue of popular culture and its inherent and inaccurate hierarchies.

I have been analyzing this seamy worship of mine, seeking to understand its origin in my psyche. I remember anxiously awaiting my favorite Friday night television shows as my infatuation flitted from David Cassidy in The Partridge Family to Lee Majors in The Six Million Dollar Man. Digging deeper, I remember (only once) kissing the television when Mr. Rogers came on (I was seven). I remember being obsessed with Marcia Brady and Olivia Newton-John and NY Ranger Hall of Famer Eddie Giacomen and the NHL mascot Peter Puck. But I didn’t know and couldn’t seem to uncover why my mind constructed this worship as it did. What did I admire most? What was I trying to appropriate? While I appreciated what these performers or artists or entertainers might stand for—or might bring to me via my experience of them, I realized that it was what I was bringing to the idea of them that was important to understand. I realized that I bestow all sorts of magical and unrealistic fantasies and expectations on these personalities. I am still not sure why—it seems that as a culture we are held captive by our comparisons to others, and many of the people we admire or despise and the brands we collect or cringe from not only signify our beliefs but have come to define them.

Still not satisfied with the results of my inner search, I put the whole exercise on pause, content with the knowledge that this silly sentimental worship—this objectification of fantasy and bestowal of “happiness always” and perfection—was neither realistic nor honorable; the origin of which continued to seem slightly out of reach.

Until last Tuesday. Miserably saddled with a cold that knocked me out, I decided, as I planned my exit strategy from the world, to go to the market and purchase the ingredients for my grandmother’s chicken soup. I would cook up a big pot, and I could live on it for days, if need be. I stumbled into my local Gristede’s and unconsciously tossed all the necessary soup accoutrement—crisp, leafy parsley, bumpy turnips, pearl barley—into my cart. Then I had what seemed to be an epiphany (please note: I was running a fever)—I would treat myself to a bubble bath! Sniffling and out of breath, I bounded over to the personal products aisle. And then in one powerful, provocative and nearly painful Proustian moment, it all came back to me. My first love. My first experience with sentimental objectification. My first experience with hero-worship. My first freefall into the phenomenal world of imagination and fantasy. I saw him again as I saw him for the first time—the one that started it all: Mr. Bubble.

As far back as I can remember, Mr. Bubble was “happiness always.” Before my daily encounter with him I felt unseemly, afterwards I was bright and shiny. Bathtime before bedtime allowed me to slide into rosy, joyful dreamland. The experience of Mr. Bubble was always exactly what I anticipated. Mr. Bubble was funny and cute. He made me laugh. Way before Mr. Rogers, way before Barbie, way before Levi’s and Lacoste, Mr. Bubble was my first love, my first celebrity and my first brand.

***

Decades before we were entertained and titillated by Madonna and Cher, characters like Elmer and Elsie delighted us. Long before we were graced with Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, folk named Dunkie and Rastus thrilled us.

We all know Madonna and Tiger Woods; they are celebrities, entertainers, athletes and brands of the second half of the 20th century. But Rastus and Dunkie and Elsie were first class celebrities of the first half. Let me re-introduce you to Dunkie the Donut and Elsie the Cow—characters created by graphic designers to entertain us, distract us, and sell products, but also were developed to try and make us feel better about who we were and the world that we lived in.

Historically, building a brand was rather simple. A logo was a straightforward guarantee of quality and consistency, or it was a signal that a product was something new. For that, consumers were, quite rationally, prepared to pay a premium. It was actually the makers of patent medicine that pioneered the use of packaged, labeled goods in the 1800’s. After the civil war, wounded men returned to their homes in droves and bottled patent medicine was the only type of aid available. As advertising was then unregulated, many of the patented medications carried fraudulent or trumped up claims. This resulted in the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, the first federal law to protect the health of the public and the first to control (and try and maintain) truth in advertising. If you think about it, this law gave brands the first piece of consumer protection.

As manufacturers needed something to entice a newly educated public with more than truthful claims (it will make you thin! it will make you rich! no longer worked), manufacturers magically transformed into marketers. According to the book, Meet Mr. Product written by Warren Dotz and Masud Husain (Chronicle Books), “As manufacturers became aware that their containers and products needed to be both distinctive and readily identifiable, names and designs evolved out of a commonly recognized symbols and everyday figures. Before advertising and consumer psychology developed into fields of their own, almost 75 years later, these early trademarks were usually created by someone at the manufacturing company (!) trying to encapsulate their product in what seemed to be an appropriate symbol. Most of the earliest advertising characters—like the Arm and Hammer symbol of the flexing bicep, the John Deere Company’s leaping deer and the Durham Tobacco bull—were less characters in the modern sense than very simple trademarks designed to indicate the maker of a product. As they were initially competing against unlabeled and non-trademarked bulk merchandise, these symbols needed to simply distinguish themselves by being decorative, recognizable, and culturally popular.”

The mythology quickly grew as marketers realized that increased “backstory”—and the subsequent merchandising that followed, would sell more product and create more loyalty, allegiance and “relationships” between customer and product. This was simply emotional branding in its infancy. Everyday folk began to wonder what the Morton Salt girl was “really” like. Men called General Mills to propose to Betty Crocker. McCall’s magazine created a Betsy McCall paper doll in the pages of the magazine and brought a three-dimensional doll into toy stores. And lest you think that only brand sellouts were involved in creating these mythologies, please note that Paul Rand created the character for Coronet Brandy, Vernon Grant created many of the characters for Kellogg’s, A.M. Cassandre created the character for Dubonnet, William Steig for Delco and Raymond Savignac birthed the buoyant little BIC boy.

Last week, in a joint effort, Yahoo! and USA Today published the results of a survey asking America to vote for their favorite brand character. Those results are here. In addition, E. Tage Larsen wrote a wonderful piece on the evolution of the Brawny man and brand iconography here. Finally, I leave you with my personal (and sentimentally chosen) A-Z homage to my favorite brand icons. My one criteria for these choices was that the characters had to have real names. No Pillsbury Dough Boy or Morton Salt Girl. Links (where are I could find them) are provided. Sadly, this type of graphic art seems to be disappearing in favor of fluorescent celebrities and mega-branded lifestyles. No longer do we imagine what Betsy McCall might be like “in real life,” or what Elsie and Elmer are doing behind closed doors (they were married, for goodness sake!). We now have in-your-face play-by-play of the wedding night of our latest kewpie dolls provided in the pages of our cultural tomes and the repetitive loop of reality television shows.

But I hold out hope for what I believe is timeless—a desire to be surrounded by the people and the pets and the artifacts that we love, and the endearing characters that give us the canvas to play and imagine. And I can rest assured, knowing that no matter how complicated life can get, there is always a box of Mr. Bubble that will make me smile.

My Sentimental Journey, from A-Z

A
Aunt Jemima c. 1946
now owned by Quaker Oats

Al Luminum
c. 1960
Kaiser Aluminum

B
Betty Crocker Betty Crocker
1921
General Mills

Bibendum, “Bib” for short 1898
More widely known as the Michelin Man
Michelin

C
Charlie, The Tuna 1974
Star-Kist Tuna
now owned by Del Monte

D
Dinty Moore 1973
Hormel beef stew
Hormel Foods

Dunkie
1956
Dunkin’ Donuts shops
now owned by Allied DOmecq

E
Elsie the Cow
c. 1936
Borden
(married to Elmer, see more below)

Elmer
c. 1941
Elmer’s Glue
Borden
(married to Elsie the Cow)

F
Fetch
c. 1964
Milk-Bone dog biscuits
Nabisco (now owned by Kraft)

G
Green Giant, also known as Jolly 1947
Pillsbury (now owned by General Mills)

H
Hi-Cecil 1968
Hi-C juice
Minute Maid (now owed by Coca-Cola)

Mr. Happy Foot
1954
McGregor Healthsocks hosiery

I
Insta 1955
Burger King (to signify “instant” with their drive-through)

J
Joe-Blo 1981
Joe-Blo bubble gum

K
King Ding Dong Hostess (now owned by Interstate Baking—currently in Chapter 11)

L
Long John Silver c. 1970
Long John Silver seafood restaurants

M
Mr. Bubble 1966
Bubble Bath

N
N-R-G Kid 1936
(energy kid, get it?)
Baby Ruth Candy

O
Oscar 1962
Oscar Meyer (now owned by Kraft)

P
Psyche the White Rock Girl 1894
White Rock

Peppy c. 1965
Wise Potato Chips

Q
Quaker Man (Larry) 1920
Quaker Oats Company (now owned by Pepsi)

Quake and Quisp 1965
Quake and Quisp cereal
Quaker Oats Company (now owned by Pepsi)

R
Rastus 1954
Cream of Wheat Cereal
Nabisco (now owned by Kraft)

Ronald McDonald c. 1966
McDonald’s restaurants

S
Snap! Crackle! And Pop! 1933
Rice Crispies
Kellogg’s

T
Tony the Tiger 1953
Frosted Flakes cereal
Kellogg’s

Toucan Sam 1963
Fruit Loops cereal
Kellogg’s

Tropic-Ana c. 1970
Tropicana (now owned by Pepsi)

V
Vicky Victory
c. 1944
Victory Hairpins

W
Mr. Wiggle 1966
Jell-O brand gelatin
Kraft Foods

Wendy c. 1980
Wendy’s Fast Food restaurant

Y
Yipes-Stripes Family 1965
Beech-Nut gum

Z
Mr. Zip
1968
USPS

Post Script: For those that might have noticed, there is no “U” character, and no “X” character. I could not find any brand characters with names that started with those letters. If any readers know of any, please send them my way.

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 2093 FILED UNDER Discussion
PUBLISHED ON Sep.29.2004 BY debbie millman
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
marian’s comment is:

What a great post, Debbie. There is something very nostalgic about that style of character advertising. It seems both innocent and naive. I'm not all that versed with products of today, but I'm trying to think if there are new products with these kinds of characters attached to them. (Probably for kids?)

I'm also trying to think of something which might be distinctly Canadian to serve up. I'll let you know if I do.

I never thought of the (unfortunate) connection between Elmer and glue before (ahem ...). I was also fascinated with Psyche the White Rock Girl: especially how she grew 4 inches and lost 22 pounds. I suppose it did take her 76 years, so there's hope for me yet.

Somewhere I have seen a similar transformation of Aunt Jemima. Seeing how some of these characters have evolved over time is always an interesting indicator of fashion and cultural politics.

On Sep.29.2004 at 05:59 PM
monkeyinabox’s comment is:

Great post.

I was actually scared to click the King Ding Dong link.

What about the Kool-Aid dude?

On Sep.29.2004 at 06:16 PM
jenny’s comment is:

Debbie,

Great post! Having spent my summers trying not to get sunburned (a sometimes losing battle for a strawberry blonde) I think my favorite character as a kid was the Coppertone girl...

On Sep.29.2004 at 07:16 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Excellent Editorial Debbie.

Wondering if Uncle Ben's would work for you "U" Category.

How Magazine published a marvelous article approximately four to eight years ago on early Advertising Icons. Before Identity Consultants

Dominated the Game.

Surprisingly, many of the early Advertising

Icons were created by World Renowned

Ad Agency Leo Burnett.

Looking back at Damien's earlier Editorial:

Your First Logo

http://www.underconsideration.com/speakup/archives/cat_discussion.html

I didn't post anything. One of my earliest favorite advertising character(s) was the Esso Tiger. I still have the coin Esso gave away when you brought so many gallons of gas. The coin must 41 years old.

I still have it until today. Wonder if it's worth any money.

Within the last ten years or so. I learned Kellog was trying to file suit against Exxon for using the Tiger Icon. There's always been an internal debate which was first Tony the Tiger or Esso Gasoline Station Tiger. I dunno. They're both pretty old.

Another favorite advertising icon is the little alkaselter guy. Remember him ???

Smith Brother's Caugh Drops

Buster Brown, Shoes

RCA, Pit Bull

Cambell Soup, Kids

Underwood, Devil

Mr. Peanut is continued to be used today.

As well, Green Giant.

The Craker Jack Icon

Mary Jane, Penny Candy.

Pegasus, Mobil Gas

Greyhound Bus

Mister Donut

Mrs. Butterworth, Syrup

Bob's Big Boy

Snack Crackle and Pop, the Rice Krispy Brothers.

Manny Moe and Jack. The Icon for Pep Boys Auto Parts.

Sugar Pops who advertised Sugar Crisp Cereal.

Punchy, Everybody's Favorite, Hawaiian Punch. Still in use today.

Pychologist made Punchy stop hitting people. He was deemed to violent.

BTW, I grew up on Romper Room and Captain Kangeroo.

Anybody, remember Tom Terrific. One of the Great Cartoons of our time.

You can find him on eBay.

Used to come on Captain Kangeroo. With Dancing Bear, Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Green Jeans.

I'm a Sucker for Nostalgia.

A Romantic at Heart. A Glorified Pack Rat.

If I think of anymore Advertising Icons Debbie; I'll either post them or send them to you.

Respectively, named all Advertising Icons and not Corporate Identity.

On Sep.29.2004 at 07:22 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Debbie:

Sorry for the second post.

Was trying to ask. Did you remember the little

Alka Seltzer Guy. ???

On Sep.29.2004 at 07:33 PM
marian’s comment is:

I did wonder about the absence of Mr. Peanut. Perhaps Debbie hates him for some slight incurred in the past?

which was first Tony the Tiger or Esso Gasoline Station Tiger

I've always wondered about those 2 tigers. They always seemed pretty similar to me and sometimes I thought they were the same, just moonlighting on different gigs. Only they wouldn't want to get their taglines mixed up: "Tastes Grrrrrreat!" wouldn't go so well with the gasoline.

Don't you think it's kindof odd that Kraft didn't (to my recollection) have this kind of characterization? I mean, the great American company, with all those products, many of them aimed at kids ... it seems they would have been a natural for this kind of thing. Which makes me wonder, in the launching of a brand what makes them decide to have or not to have a character?

It's obvious when they're trying to make some kind of "down home" association with some actual person behind the product (Quaker Oats, Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima), but otherwise how would the decision get made "what we need is a tiger to sell our gasoline." You think about it, that's pretty bizarre.

On Sep.29.2004 at 10:23 PM
Rob’s comment is:

Fabulous post and what a nice feeling I got being reminded about dear Mr. Bubble. And even to this day, at my office, a poster of Charlie the Tuna hangs out overlooking my desk.

I think one of my favorites, and still around, is Joe Bazooka. Now, this is probably my bias towards bubble gum. But still, there he is. And hasn't changed too much over the years.

I'll second both you and the MAVEN on the Jolly Green Giant but let us not forget little Sprout. And another favorite from my childhood in the Bible Belt was defintely Bob of Bob's Big Boy.

I remember actually being upset when all the Bob's Big Boy's became Shoney's and slowly, all the 'Boy's' began to disappear. It's sad, event today, just thinking about it. And maybe like you Debbie, I didn't know why then and even now, I'm not quite sure. Certainly there was that sense of comfort that the icons of these brands represented, even in their somewhat simplistic down-home nature. (Just can't get that Southern experience out of this die-hard Yankee).

So, Debbie, thanks so much for a wonderful post and a amazingly happy trip down memory lane.

On Sep.29.2004 at 10:30 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Marian:

As I remember the Esso Tagline and Television Commercials of the 50s & 60s were:

"PUT A TIGER IN YOUR TANK"

Referencing, the Strength, Power, and Dominance of the Tiger.

Decision's where probably made by the Marketing Team of the Respective Advertising Agencies.

World Renowned Ad Agency Leo Burnett created some of the more notable icons.

Wish I could find the article in How Magazine.

Anybody out there in Speak Up community with the article please send some of the Ad Icons to Armin, for uploading.

As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on which Tiger is the oldest.

The animated Trade Marks were the spokesman for the Brand. Those days Brands either had Advertising Design Animated Trade Marks or Separate Traditional Trade Marks. Such as Logo, Logotype, Seal or Monograms.

Metropolitan Life Insurance, Traditionally incorporated a Tower. Sandgren and Murtha an off spring of Lippincott & Margulies revitalized the Brand into a Ubiquitous and Omnipotent ML Identity. Designed by Identity GOD,

Don Ervin.

Muts Joy Day & Design revitalized the Identity for MetLife.

Anspach Grossman Portugal, did some work on the Revitalization.

Now SNOOPY, Created by Famed Cartoonist Charles Schulz is the Brand Identifier.

Remember, Ronald McDonald used to be the Brand Identifier for McDonalds.

Not the Golden Arches.

On some levels, I wish Branding would return to this era. If only for a moment.

Let's not forget Log Cabin.

And the Keebler Elves.

The Lucky Charms Lepricon.

When I was growing up in the sixties actually never got close to eating a bowl of Lucky Charms.

Rob:

Many thanks. Almost certain Leo Burnett created Charlie the Tuna.

Somebody find the How Magazine Article, Please.

Correction: in my first post

I named Sugar Pops as the Brand Icon for Sugar Crisp Cereal.

It was actually, Sugar Bear. The Ad Icon Brand Spokesman for Sugar Crisp Cereal.

Many thanks to my brother Larry

for his extroadinary gift of recollection.

On Sep.29.2004 at 11:27 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

>And then in one powerful, provocative and nearly painful Proustian moment, it all came back to me. My first love. My first experience with sentimental objectification. My first experience with hero-worship. My first freefall into the phenomenal world of imagination and fantasy. I saw him again as I saw him for the first time—the one that started it all: Mr. Bubble.

>As far back as I can remember, Mr. Bubble was “happiness always.” Before my daily encounter with him I felt unseemly, afterwards I was bright and shiny. Bathtime before bedtime allowed me to slide into rosy, joyful dreamland. The experience of Mr. Bubble was always exactly what I anticipated.

Wow Debbie, I'm catching a major Freudian anal fixation vibe here and it fits the prescribed ages between 18 months and 3 years.

Not to engage in public amateur analysis, but this does suggest an interesting potential for total brand imprinting at pre-linguistic levels. Imagine teams of Freudians and Lacanians consulting with Branding/Marketing concerns to imprint the phallic characters of future consumers.

But then, the potential for damage is great. I personally still remember, at three years of age, my extreme terror caused by an anti-smoking Public Service Announcement — Johnny Smoke. A few sessions on the couch would probably pinpoint that as the origin of my own anal fixations.

Johnny Smoke was animated in a different style — the image on this page is an artist's interpretation

>I did wonder about the absence of Mr. Peanut. Perhaps Debbie hates him for some slight incurred in the past?

Guess it's time to drag these links out again:

Picnic time and randy peanut (third item down)

On Sep.30.2004 at 01:18 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Wondering if Uncle Ben's would work for you "U" Category.

MAVEN...you rock. Of course Uncle Ben!! I can not believe that I left him out. A great American icon. Some interesting history here and some vintage images here.

I did wonder about the absence of Mr. Peanut. Perhaps Debbie hates him for some slight incurred in the past?

hmmmmm...this concerns me, as I LOVE Mr. Peanut. I have a giant stuffed Mr. Peanut perched in my office and have worked on the little darling, so leaving him out was nothing short of egregious. There is a dancing Mr. Peanut here and some historical stuff here.

Was trying to ask. Did you remember the little

Alka Seltzer Guy. ???

Another bad slight. The Alka Seltzer guy was named Speedy. Created by Robert Watkins in 1952 for a magazine ad, and you can find more information about him here.

Don't you think it's kindof odd that Kraft didn't (to my recollection) have this kind of characterization? I mean, the great American company, with all those products, many of them aimed at kids ... it seems they would have been a natural for this kind of thing.

What about the Kool-Aid dude?

Actually Kool-Aide is owned by Kraft and so is Mr. Peanut. But Marian raises a very interesting point, as both of those brands were purchased by Kraft—Kool-Aide was originally owned by General Foods and Mr. Peanut by Lifesavers. I will look into the original Kraft portfolio and see what I can uncover.

On Sep.30.2004 at 07:27 AM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

From the modern era, I submit Joe Camel and Spuds McKenzie.

Both controversial. Both retired.

... and the icon upon whom many here in The Glass City depend: The Pink Panther (Owens Corning.)

That dude cost a bundle.

On Sep.30.2004 at 07:38 AM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

One more for the modern day: Louie and Frank, the Budweiser Lizards. Here's another a to w listing of Advertising Mascots that happen to be Animals. Apologies if it has already been mentioned

On Sep.30.2004 at 08:27 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Guess it's time to drag these links out again:

Oy. Just as the nightmares were going away.

> but I'm trying to think if there are new products with these kinds of characters attached to them.

I think today's characters are too… too, shallow, maybe. And most are now real, as in people-real, there are more spokesperson, celebrity types than animated characters. Like Orlando Jones for 7up, who really became a character.

Perhaps we hold dear all the ones that Debbie mentioned — specially Mr. Bubble for whom I also have an affinity — because they have achieved that coveted vintage appeal. Although I really don't see the Fantanas or Sprite's Miles Thirst having such appeal in 40-50 years.

> I'm also trying to think of something which might be distinctly Canadian to serve up.

In Mexico there a lot of the same characters from the US but they just change the name to sound more Mexican. I can't remember a specific example right now, but it's like Homer Simpson is called Homero Simpson in Spanish. One of the few characters that I distinctly remember from my childhood is Pancho Pantera (pictured on the right). He represented Choco Mix, chocolate powder for making chocolate milk; at home we never bought any but when I went to my grandma's she always had it and it was awesome. There are many other Mexican characters, I'll try to think of some.

Has anyone mentioned the Little Caesar's Pizza Pizza guy?

On Sep.30.2004 at 08:41 AM
Patrick C’s comment is:

What about the Michelin Man? I loved that mascot when I was a kid. I remember getting a big plastic version of him from a gas station—the kind of promotional item that only dealers get. Fantastic.

On Sep.30.2004 at 09:33 AM
Bryony’s comment is:

I did not grow up with many of these, but for some reason I have found them intriguing...

On Sep.30.2004 at 09:59 AM
marian’s comment is:

Mark, I simply can't believe you said that. Oh if only the poster submissions were still open, you'd be getting an email from me ...

Your links to Mr. Peanut in somewhat compromising circumstances are actually of a Vancouver artist, Vincent Trasov, who ran for mayor as Mr. Peanut in 1974 and I believe continues to make art involving the character. Interesting stories here and here. Trasov says "It's the absurdity of Mr. Peanut as a monumental figure." Indeed. Oddly, I thought I remembered him running for mayor, but I was only 11 and living in Saskatoon, so that's impossible. Needless to say, it was legendary.

On Sep.30.2004 at 10:04 AM
debbie millman’s comment is:

The coolest conference in the world was just brought to my attention.

On Sep.30.2004 at 10:06 AM
marian’s comment is:

Actually, I must encourage y'all to follow that second link of mine, above. It's a great article, and don't forget to look at the image gallery for more Mr. Peanut art.

On Sep.30.2004 at 10:14 AM
marian’s comment is:

God damn it! Why don't I live in Berlin???

On Sep.30.2004 at 10:19 AM
ian’s comment is:

how about the new target tv spot where it shows all the brand characters taking the bus, flying, and then all walking together into a target. then kool-aid comes busting throught the wall like he always used to.

i was completely blown away buy this commercial the first time i saw it. here are all these icon from my childhood 'together' in the same comercial. what the hell are they doing together? is this legal? then you see it's target and i'm thinking how the hell did they pull this off? how did they get all these companies to have their icons shown with other icons. and where the hell is kool-aid. and just like every kool-aid commercial from my childhood here he comes through the wall at the end. bravo target, bravo! (at least i think it's target...)

On Sep.30.2004 at 11:11 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Ian, I shared the same surprise when I saw that ad for the first time. I couldn't believe they were all in the same commercial and I would have never guessed it to be a Target ad. Much convincing must have had to go on to pull that off.

On Sep.30.2004 at 12:35 PM
JonSel’s comment is:

I was a fan of the Pets.com sock puppet. I don't think it had a name. I loved that it was very low-tech and you could see the puppeteer's wristwatch. I assumed he "died" along with the company a few years back.

Well, apparently not. It's pretty appalling, but I love the tagline, "Everyone Deserves a Second Chance." Even sock puppets.

Are there any other instances of a brand character completely changing corporate hands like this? I'm not talking about Kraft acquiring another food product and related advertising equities, but an entirely different company and market. I can't think of any.

On Sep.30.2004 at 03:42 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Are there any other instances of a brand character completely changing corporate hands like this?

Here is a bizarre one:

In the United States, Energizer owns the Energizer Bunny.

In the rest of the world, Duracell does.

On Sep.30.2004 at 04:12 PM
marian’s comment is:

Um.

Um.

The anal fixations, the libidinous Peanut, the backwards batteries ... think we can fit that sock puppet in here somehow?

On Sep.30.2004 at 04:59 PM
Jason T’s comment is:

Debbie,

That's a great article you put together, touching on a number of emotions and memories. Wonderfully done. I'm glad you took the time to make it so detailed and personal. It's nice seeing those kind of artciles, because brands—and their icons—can do good. And more importantly, make us feel good. Is that such a bad thing? Sometimes I feel like telling Naomi Klein to go to hell, but then I realize she has her convictions too.

On Sep.30.2004 at 05:10 PM
mark’s comment is:

What a fun and interesting article. My top sentimental pick has to go out to the Kool-Aid Man! Any pitcher of cold beverage that can bust through a wall at the clap of a hand gets my vote. Oh, Yeaahh! Of course I might be a little biased as I grew up 40 miles of the birthplace of Kool-Aid - Hastings, Nebraska. Here's some little known facts about the big guy...did you know he was first introduced as "Pitcher Man." Hastings has the "Kool-Aid Festival" every summer and boasts the world's largest Kool-Aid stand. And the Kool-Aid Man has a footprint at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

And speaking of cold beverages - another from my youthful days which can't go unnamed is the Hamm's Beer bear. Stump your friends with this one...the bear's name was "Sascha."

Some of my childhood fave's...

Dig 'Em Frog - Sugar Smacks

Cap'n Crunch

Ernie, the Keebler elf

Nesquick Bunny (not sure if he had a name)

Bazooka Joe

Smokey the Bear

McGruff the Crime Dog

California Raisins

some others to remember...

Reddy Kilowatt (Reddy Communications)

Mack the Bulldog (Mack Trucks)

Clark Bar Boy (Clark Bar - Beatrice Foods Company)

Cornelius Rooster (Kelloggs corn flakes)

Ann Turner Cook "the Gerber baby"

Leo the lion (MGM)

On Oct.01.2004 at 01:16 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Don't know where this conversation has gone since I posted earlier.

Many thanks to Gunnar Swanson who has informed me.

"The Alka Seltzer Icon name was Speedy".

And, "Tony the Tiger was around many years before the

Exxon Tiger".

Gunnar, thought the "put a tiger in your tank" campaign for then Enco in the west/Esso in the east was mid 1960s.

Gunnar's disclaimer, "don't take that as gospel".

Personal research support Gunnar's recollection.

I'll catch up on my reading of this Editorial and others this weekend.

On Oct.01.2004 at 07:55 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Byrony

Sorry for the second post.

I just noticed this as I was signing off.

Luv Ya. Sorry Armin.

You found Speedy the Alka Seltzer Guy. Geez, perhaps my All time Favorite. Along with the Esso Tiger.

Gotta Go, I tearing up !!!!!

On Oct.01.2004 at 08:03 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Armin & Byrony

I know you were saying. "What no MEXICAN Advertising Icon". Yes, Yes,

Yes, we had one in the early 60s to early 70s.

He was a Famous as Speedy, Charlie the Tuna, Ronald McDonald, Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, Esso Tiger.

Like Marian, which I really think both Tigers were one of the same.

America's MEXICAN Advertising Icon was the Frito BANDITO.

Without question the Coolest and most Notorious of all the Advertising Icons.

Created by Frito Lay for Frito's Corn Chips.

Not sure who the Ad Agency was that worked on the account. Toss up between Young & Rubicam and Leo Burnett, my guess.

The Frito BANDITO reputation

was for sticking up Hombre's for their Corn Chips.

You had to see the commercial to Believe it.

Rob

I'm also a BIG, BIG, BIG, Fan of Joe Bazooka Bubble Gum.

Byrony, Thanks for posting the Icons. See you got Frankenberry, and another Favorite Bob's Big Boy.

Really, Gotta Go. Meeting and personal business.

On Oct.01.2004 at 09:11 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Frito Bandito

Man, they sure wouldn't be able to get away with this in the new millenium:

I am the Moon parking lot attendant.

Talk about stereotypes.

On Oct.01.2004 at 11:19 AM
marian’s comment is:

the Hamm's Beer bear

OK, how can we get this close and not remember ... A&W's ROOT BEAR?

I mean really. Where are our heads?

On Oct.01.2004 at 12:11 PM
Hex’s comment is:

On a weird side note... I actually dressed up as the Jolly Green Giant's little buddy Sprout for Halloween when I was seven or eight. Maybe an early indication of my love of Branding and the Image industry? It was a pretty kick-ass costume, but I don't think many people got it.

A pal of mine was the Planter's Peanut Man for last year's Halloween.

This list is going to be great for this year's Halloween costume ideas (how appropriate that today is October 1st).

On Oct.01.2004 at 12:33 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Late to this great thread, but I have an addition.

One of the first toy-mascot I can remember playing with is the Michelin Man.

I don't know why a tire company needs a cute mascot, but he's got to be one of the most recognized icons around the world.

On Oct.01.2004 at 01:09 PM
davek’s comment is:

Fire up the way back machine! Check out the tick tock toy section here.

On Oct.01.2004 at 01:15 PM
Shahla’s comment is:

Xavier?

On Oct.01.2004 at 09:22 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Just chiming in.

Debbie, many thanks for the links to Speedy and Uncle Bens.

Michael Surtees, many thanks for the Advertising Mascot Links. Some names and characters I haven't seen or thought about in years.

Will take this time to add:

Ajax, White Night.

Mr. Kleen.

Which nobody mentioned. Mr. Kleen was Marketed to Woman as a household cleaner. Decades before Brawny. Paper Towels.

Armin:

I don't know about the Market Research provided in reference to the Frito BANDITO Campaign.

When you're seven years old in 1960. You think everything is Funny. Kids loved the commercials.

Personally, don't remember the Moon Commercial Illustrated.

After reading the Advertising Mascot Article on the Character.

I understand why it was pulled.

It could've been worse. Aparently, it sold a lot of Corn Chips.

"Man, they sure wouldn't be able to get away with this in the new millenium":

Aparently, they didn't get away with it in the 60s.

If memory serves me correctly. Young & Rubicam has always had Frito Lays account.

Know what I'm talkin bout. Know who I'm blamin.

Who do we know work for Y&R ???!!!

On Oct.02.2004 at 12:17 AM
Young’s comment is:

a possible canadian memory

On Oct.04.2004 at 08:39 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>Know what I'm talkin bout. Know who I'm blamin. Who do we know work for Y&R

yeah, yeah...blame it all on me.

All I gotta say is while you may have lost your beloved Fritos Bandito, Doritos has provided quite a palatable replacement.

On Oct.04.2004 at 09:11 PM
MB’s comment is:

A late addition here, but M Kingsley with his Freudian analysis is not that far from the mark!

A few years ago, Ruth Shalit wrote at salon.com about research involving hypnosis to uncover early childhood experiences with brands, and the ways those experiences linger to influence adult perception of brands...

...read the article!

On Oct.05.2004 at 02:40 PM
saragm’s comment is:

I absolutely LOVE this post. I am a big fan of characters and remember so many from my childhood, including probably 90% of the ones you all mentioned. However, I find the theory of these characters being imbedded in our minds during the earliest stages of life to be very interesting. I don't know about all of you, but I wasn't exposed to brand images, at least not anywhere but in my subconcious, until I was of the age where I developed the attention span for that sort of thing. I would say I probably started paying attention to those characters as I was begging mom in the cereal aisle at the supermarket for the box with the white rabbit on it. Trix was that white rabbit. So I'd have to say that until I wanted something I really didn't pay attention to the characters. That is the job of those characters though, as is the job of most advertising, to create that desire or need. For my mind at that time, the characters were the selling point because they were fun and scampered around the television screen. That was all I needed to be connected to a character; The element of fun and visual appeal. So yeah, I'd say Trix the rabbit and Lucky the Leprechaun have stuck with me to this point in my life. Oh, and the Pink Panther...wasn't he used to advertise some sort of insulation?

On Oct.05.2004 at 11:46 PM
Jesse’s comment is:

I have just stumbled across this post as I was researching Smokey the Bear and whether it's a viable icon for an animated DVD. Are you aware of any of these icons being used for a home video series? I only know of the old Ronald McDonald and friends home videos. Any advice or thoughts on this would be great.

On Oct.29.2004 at 10:44 AM
Emily’s comment is:

Hello,

I really enjoyed reading your post and would really like to thank you for it. My grandpa worked as a common employee of wise potato chips in Berwick, PA. Although he never got credited, he created Peppy the owl. So it really means a lot to me that someone cared enough to mention it.

On Mar.25.2007 at 09:34 PM
Emily’s comment is:

Hello,

I really enjoyed reading your post and would really like to thank you for it. My grandpa worked as a common employee of wise potato chips in Berwick, PA. Although he never got credited, he created Peppy the owl. So it really means a lot to me that someone cared enough to mention it.

On Mar.25.2007 at 09:36 PM