Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Poppin' Fresh Analysis

My buddy Chris found this astounding and hysterical Salon article about the marketing nuances of famous cartoon advertising icons. Here are some of the best quotes Ruth Shalit purged from these ad agency reps:

"We have to be careful that you never see the whites of [the Pillsbury Doughboy's] eyes. ... It's just that when he looks straight at the camera, so his eyes are dead center -- well, let's just say he has a tendency not to look as, uh, lively."

"[Chester the Cheetah]'s head still spins around. His eyes bulge out ... Everything's dangerously hot, dangerously cheesy. But then, somehow, he pulls it back into control to say -- Chee-tos."

"The Colonel [Sanders] is portly, yet energetic, and can perform feats that belie his age and physique. For instance, he can slam-dunk a flaming basketball."

"There aren't a lot of 'can'ts' with Tony [the Tiger]. He can do pretty much everything. Except for putting on a woman's dress. That's the one thing he can't do."

"No, [Grimace] does not have special needs! He's just a simple guy. His job is to present situations for Ronald to solve ... He serves a wonderful purpose."

Still, the greatest revelation in this article is on page 1: The ad exec's repeated reenactment of the Pillsbury Doughboy jump:

"So I sat up on a table, and I told the animators: 'This is how he would do it.' And I actually jumped off the table." Lewis was not happy with the first round of sketches that came back. "It was like, no, no, no. And I got back on the table. And I said, 'I want him to be a little happier. There should be that moment of surprise before he squinches up his eyes and pushes off. Like this. And I pushed off. And everyone instantly said, 'Wow, that's our guy!'"

That's poppin' fresh.

The only thing the article appears to gloss over is the Trix rabbit. In most of the cases mentioned in the story, ad execs are careful to make sure that none of the cartoon pitchmen appears to be bumbling or foolish. Yet the Trix Rabbit failed so many times in his quest for Trix. Except I do remember that sometime late in my childhood, he got to eat the Trix in one commercial campaign. Silly rabbit, Trix are for... you.