Welcome folks! I’m your conductor here tonight ready to look back on seven over-the-top mascots here on our show Out of Order. This is a second batch focusing on the topic, which has proved to be something of a favorite among my passengers. And I aim to cook up that same charm again. Back by popular demand, here’s volume 2 of bizarre brand marketing mascots… let’s get this show started!
Spuds Mackenzie (Bud Light, 80s)
How could you go wrong with this party animal? Debuting during the 1987 Super Bowl, Spuds soon became a smash hit seemingly overnight. He was a life-of-the-party bull terrier, rode about in limousines, and was swarmed by a crowd of gorgeous “Spudettes”. His impact certainly benefited the beer company, approximately improving average sales by 20% between 1987 and 1988. It’s a shame that his controversial idealization of alcohol to an audience of impressionable teenagers eventually led to the mascot’s retirement by 1989, only serving a 3 year run. It seems Spud’s legacy hasn’t faded in modern times, so could the mascot make its deserved comeback? I hope so, and even if that won’t be the case, he will always be up there in the stars, partying the night away.
Crash Test Dummies (Safety Administration, 1986-1999)
The other day I buckled up in a parking lot and my friends in the back ridiculed me for it. Clearly neither of them have seen these adverts before. They were featured heavily in public service announcements, or PSA’s, broadcast in part by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to encourage the use of seat belts. In these ads, two crash dummies named Vince and Larry often got into slapstick situations, egged on by the slogan “You Could Learn a Lot from a Dummy”. The practice of car safety was indeed boosted by these characters, who would later get a line of children’s toys. Hmm, that’s cool I guess… wait, the entire point of the action figures was to mutilate and purposefully smash them? Oh, irony, where art thou!
Speedy (Alka-Seltzer, 1951 – 1964)
I never would’ve thought that a pain-medication product needed a mascot, yet here we are! This little guy is named Speedy, named after the company’s introduction of “Speedy Relief”. For whatever reason, his body is an Alka-Seltzer tablet, but his head is human? I mean, plastic, but still human nonetheless. And he’s also wearing one on his head? Unless that is some sort of costume, isn’t that sort of like wearing your torso as a hat? Well, despite the horrifying implications, Speedy was a decent spokesman for selling antacids.
Sir Grapefellow (General Mills, 1972)
Last time we covered this we looked at another cereal mascot named King Vitamin. Or Vitaman… anyways, I decided to continue this tradition and pay my respects to the king. Awakening sour memories of World War 1 was a British military pilot named Sir Grapefellow. The breakfast supposedly had the flavor of grape-tasting oats combined with berry marshmallows. It even had a rivalry with another cereal under the same theme, Baron Von Redberry, to mixed reactions. Maybe next time it’s best that we don’t name a cereal character after a German war criminal. Kellogg’s, take notes.
Hang in there, Out of Order will be right back!
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Not much exciting announcements are really in the works for this month, but there are definitely posts to look forward to. We’ll be comparing two of the greatest adventure films of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade to determine the best. And the finale of Out of Order season 1 will come to a head with a retrospective of arguably the worst shows ever made. Place your guesses on what you think it is down in the comments. Besides that, I am deeply sorry to say that I will have to take another two-week break from posting this June. It’s not because of burnout again, rather I am visiting distant family during that time and my reviews would interfere. But hey, still got all this month. Now, on with the show!
Bart Simpson (Butterfinger, 1988 – 2001)
“Nobody Better Lay a Finger on My Butterfinger”, was a line frequently stated by the mascot for this crispity, crunchity, peanut-buttery candy bar. The Simpsons had a monopoly on pop culture during the 1990s, and this is no different. Essentially in all these adverts it was Bart vs. The World, as everybody around him would go to questionable lengths to steal the Butterfinger for themselves. Revenge, betrayal, and elaborate set-ups, this week on Game of Butterfingers. Eh, doesn’t have that much of a ring to it really… but this was a peculiar tie-in for sure. However, I wonder how it would’ve been if HBO had a marketing campaign with Nestle. I can see it now; the Soprano Nesquick!
Sylvester Smythe (Cracked magazine)
The next character lives under the domineering shadow of Alfred E. Neumann, the dopey face often associated with Mad magazine. Which is a shame, because Cracked is an equally solid satire publication. Sylvester was a janitor for the zine, and appeared inside the parodies from time to time. Cracked does however compose of a fanbase of people who bought this when Mad had been sold out, so Sylvester has a unique place in pop culture.
Max Headroom (Coca-Cola, 1986 – 1987)
Who actually remembers Max Headroom besides me? He was a wisecracking artificial intelligence who’s voice was often sped up, slowed down, and plagued by stutters. The guy was a one-hit-wonder for a little while, starring in his own television program, an unsolved hijacking, and served as Coca-Cola’s salesman too. For whatever reason though, the character never made any sort of sense to me; he’s genuinely more uncanny then he is witty. Maybe I should give him a break… all he ever did was promote soda.
Well, that’s all folks! Catch you later.
TOMORROW | Raiders of the Lost Ark Review starring Indiana Jones