8 Bizarre (But Beloved) TV Commercial Mascots
I take commercials very seriously. If you come over to my house, you will see Snuggies and Sham Wows all over the place. Commercial mascots are especially near and dear to my heart. Some are very creative, some are too literal (“Let’s just have a jug of Kool-Aid be the mascot for Kool-Aid!”) and some don’t seem to have anything to do with the company. But we love them all anyway, don’t we? Here are some of the most random, incongruous mascots of our time:
1) Blockbuster – Ray & Carl
What do Blockbuster, a rabbit and a guinea pig have in common? Not a damn thing, but Blockbuster’s 2002 “Ray & Carl” campaign was a hit! This hilarious duo watched Blockbuster life from their pet shop window, marveling at DVD deals and busting some sick dance moves. As domestic guinea pigs and rabbits have an average life span of 5-8 years, thankfully these sassy BFFs weren’t around to see their beloved Blockbuster’s eventual demise. RIP on all fronts.
2) Excel Gum- The Donut
Excel’s “Bad Breath” mascots are so insanely adorable that they almost make me want to forget this whole hygiene thing. In the commercials, these little guys follow people around until Excel gum makes them run the other way – and straight into our hearts!
All of the mascots represent the causes of bad breath –garlic, onion, pizza, green onion, coffee, and of course, donut. Wait, donut? Is donut breath a thing we need to worry about now? This little guy is my favorite, but doesn’t quite fit with the theme, kind of like…
3) McDonald’s – Grimace
The Hamburglar steals hamburgers, Birdie is for early bird breakfast specials, Mayor McCheese is obviously the mayor of some place terrifying and delicious. It all makes a decent amount of sense – except for that big purple blob, Grimace. Grimace, the cute afterthought. Grimace, the comic relief. Grimace, pop culture’s biggest enigma. He (It? That?) was originally introduced as an “evil, four-armed, cave-dwelling milkshake stealer” which, incidentally, is how I was described in high school. Here’s the original Grimace in this creepy McDonald’s commercial alongside a young Jodie Foster.
In efforts to explain what the hell was going on, Grimace went through many image changes, such as a new face, less arms, a flimsy family history and magical powers. Eventually McDonald’s was like, “Forget it!”, and just slowly started fazing Ronald’s gang out of the limelight.
4) Taco Bell – The Dog
I don’t need to say more than this – if you have ever given a dog Mexican food, you will know that these two things do not mix.
5) E*trade – The E*Trade Baby
A wittle baby and stock brokering – to my knowledge – have nothing in common, which is of course what made this campaign so brilliant. The only thing is that now I only want advice from babies on diversifying my portfolio. Babies and cats.
6) Dairy Farmers of Canada – Angry Cheese Lady
One of the strangest incidences in advertising mascotery happened right here in lil’ ol’ unassuming Canada. This 2006 reverse-psychology advertising campaign was for Dairy Farmers of Canada and focused on parents trying to get their adult children to move out. In the middle of the commercial, an old woman would suddenly appear and yell “Can’t get your kids to leave home? Stop cooking with cheese!” The campaign was largely unsuccessful. Cheese, in particular, is supposed to be a pleasant and serene experience, right? The Angry Cheese Lady was quickly erased from the airwaves but still appears occasionally in our nightmares. You can’t find this gem on YouTube, so check it out here.
7) Six Flags – Mr. Six Flags
Mr. Six, you’ll recall, drove his bus around neighborhoods looking for overworked parents and bored children. At first, he stepped out of the bus as any far-sighted old man in a tight suit would – cautiously, but with a bit of pizzazz. But then – without a word – he began dancing wildly to a Venga Boys song and promised a ride to an amusement park. Now, a general reaction to this is to either call the police or whip out your camera phone. But in the ads, everyone happily hopped on the bus, forgetting that stranger danger is even a thing. Mr. Six was regarded as weird, annoying, and cringe-worthy which are not qualities that most people associate with a fun time at a theme park. But, he had a lot of heart.
8) Charmin – The Charmin Bears
I assume that the original connection between toilet paper and bears is some sort of “nature calls” thing, which is all fine and well. What’s strange about these mascots is that they seem to have a warped relationship with toilet paper. An obsession with “little pieces left behind?” I had no idea this was a thing parents worried about. Then there is the bizarre toilet paper foreplay in the scene below. Freud would love this stuff!
There you have it! What are some of your favorite commercial mascot misfits?
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