World Cup 2010 mascot not as offensive as some past offerings

Posted on Tue May 25 2010


The best mascot the U.S. could come up with for the 1994 World Cup was a generic-looking brown dog with one foot on a soccer ball and his mind on chasing cars, taking naps and, well, anything except playing soccer. Because, you know, we don't care about soccer here. But at least it wasn't an ethnic stereotype or offensive representation of the host country, which is more the norm, judging by an illuminating Fast Company slideshow. (There have also been some vaguely creepy characters in the mix.) Take a look at some of the World Cup mascots of yore: an Argentine cowboy with a whip in his hand; British World Cup Willie, the first mascot, from 1966, who's inexplicably sporting an '80s rocker hairdo; and Pique, a jalapeno pepper wearing a giant sombrero, baggy clothes and huge 'stache that Fast Company finds "just a hair behind Speedy Gonzalez" in the gross-cultural-stereotype department. This year's mascot is kind of a head-scratcher, if you could find his noggin in that big bouffant. Zakumi, a leopard who'll preside over the tournament starting June 11, represents "the people, geography and spirit of South Africa," according to a FIFA statement. But there's still no explanation for that hair.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Mostly classics on latest list of most-beloved spokescreatures

Posted on Mon Mar 22 2010


What's not to love about cuddly, funny or animated advertising icons? Since they're not real people—and sometimes they're not people at all—they don't get caught up in sex scandals or popped for DUI. They don't ask for more money, and they never age. A marketer's dream! But how do consumers feel about them? E-Poll, via Forbes magazine, just released a study of favorite ad icons, and among the top 10 on the likability meter, the vast majority are long-time mascots with a lot of nostalgia value. There are only two newish mascots on the list—the Geico gecko and the Aflac duck. The M&M's characters, around since 1954, led the pack as the most revered. Others who made the grade include the Pillsbury Doughboy, Tony the Tiger of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes and the elfin Snap, Crackle and Pop characters from Kellogg's Rice Krispies. (Snap's been around since 1933!) Other icons on the list have gotten makeovers, like Aunt Jemima, who dropped the mammy-style kerchief in '89; Mrs. Butterworth, who shed a few pounds; and the Kool-Aid Man, who modernized, but not for the better.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

MasterCard 'Icons' ad reminds us of power of strong branding

Posted on Wed Feb 18 2009

This MasterCard "Icons" spot from McCann Erickson, which first aired during the 2005 Super Bowl, is back in rotation. It shows a "Priceless" collection of brand icons gathered around a table, eating broccoli for $1.79, three pouches of tuna for $3.99 and crescent rolls for $2.39. There's Count Chocula, Mr. Peanut, the Jolly Green Giant, the Gorton's fisherman, Charlie the Starkist tuna, Chef Boyardee, the Pillsbury doughboy, the Vlasic pickles stork, the Morton Salt girl and, doing the dishes, of course, Mr. Clean. The thing that makes these mascots so special is that many of them represent commodity items like salt, vegetables, pickles and biscuits. Without these familiar characters, the brands would be, well, just salt, vegetables, pickles and biscuits. The spot reminds us of the true value of creative branding versus just linking up with any old athlete or celebrity—who will probably just get themselves and your brand in trouble anyway. That could never happen with an animated brand icon, unless you're talking about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein



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