Mascots in advertising
Nowadays, you don’t see many mascots in advertising. Most companies today seem to want to create a serious atmosphere. If you need any confirmation of this, take a look at what McDonald’s buildings looked like a few decades ago compared to what they look like now.
Back in the day, some companies’ mascots lasted for years before they faded into the background; others were simply a sign of the times they were created in. Some you might not have known even existed.
Speedee was McDonald's original mascot and was introduced to promote their ‘Speedee Service System’ that had been developed by founding brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald; Speedee even predates the brand’s ‘golden arches’. Not much is known about when he was created, but he never got the opportunity to appear in their television advertising before his retirement in 1962.
Surprisingly, some of the older McDonald’s in America that are still in operation will have old logos or advertisements with Speedee present. In May 2021, McDonald’s Japan released limited edition packaging featuring the mascot.
Created by Joanna Ferrone and Sue Rose, Fido Dido was purchased by the PepsiCo group in 1988. Their intention was to use the character to promote certain soft drinks. Many people outside of the US will associate Fido Dido with the soft drink 7Up, but as PepsiCo doesn’t own the rights to 7Up in the US, he was used to promote Slice instead. Fido’s look certainly screams late eighties and early nineties. He was eventually replaced by Cool Spot.
This one can, at times, put people’s heads in a spin. Is it the Duracell bunny? Is it the Energizer bunny? Both companies actually have a pink bunny as their mascot.
In 1973, Duracell ran a ‘Drumming Bunny’ advertising campaign, which showed multiple mechanical bunnies playing the drums. Eventually, their batteries ran out, though one was still drumming at the end - the one powered by Duracell. The company initially had copyright of the bunny character until 1988 when their competitor, Energizer, created a parody bunny and ran a multi-year advertising campaign with this new mascot. People thought the new bunny was still Duracell’s, however, which actually caused Energizer’s market share to shrink.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this led to a 1990 trademark dispute that went through the courts for two years before it was settled. Energizer ended up with the right to use the pink bunny in the US and Duracell had the rights to use the mascot everywhere else.
I will be delving into other notable mascots in future articles, so stay tuned!
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