Tony the Tiger
For companies looking to get a slogan wedged into the collective consciousness, a cartoon mascot is an effective way to do so.
Think Tony the Tiger, looming behind a bowl of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, and you probably can hear his trademarked growl: "They're GR-R-REAT!"
Kellogg's itself says Tony has proven to be the character most people think "best represents" the company.
His fame began in 1952, with the introduction of a cereal, Kellog's Sugar Frosted Flakes of Corn. The competition was fierce. The character on boxes included not only the bandanna-wearing tiger, but Katy the Kangaroo, Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu.
Tony, the most popular of the menagerie, was refined the following year by the Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago, a firm that had a hand in creating numerous company-promoting characters. The big splash was a color ad in Life magazine, a national debut that evolved into years of print ads and TV appearances. In marketing materials, the company refers to the spokes-tiger as a "full-fledged goodwill ambassador for Kellogg's."
Snap! Crackle! Pop!
Older than even Tony the Tiger are Snap, Crackle and Pop, the three tiny men whose names reflect the crackling chatter made by a bowl of milk-drenched Rice Krispies.
The cereal dates back to 1928. It was in 1932 that a gnome in a baker's hat was added to the side panel of the box. Snap was later joined by two buddies, Crackle and Pop.
Popularity ensued. There were comic strips and, during World War II, the trio posed for a patriotic ad campaign that urged those on the homefront to "Save time, save fuel, save energy."
In 1949, the characters got a makeover, made less gnomelike and more human. Likewise, "their voices changed over the years from high-pitched elfin squeaks into more pleasant speaking and singing ranges," according to Kellogg's.
Geek trivia: The tiny guys are also popular in other countries. In Finland they are Poks, Riks and Raks. Italians sit down to breakfast facing a picture of Pif, Paf and Poff. Mexicans pour their milk and listen for Pim, Pum and Pam.
Various surveys have made the claim that Ronald McDonald's is second only to Santa Claus in terms of recognition by the world's children.
It is no shocker, really. Around the globe, the always upbeat clown is as recognizable as the famous golden arches.
Ronald's TV career began in 1963, when Willard Scott (an original Bozo the Clown who went on to fame as a Today Show weather forecaster) appeared as "Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown."
Ronald, we learned decades ago, lives in McDonald Land, a fantasy home (shake-spewing volcanoes and french fries that grow on bushes!) that had a distinctive resemblance to the landscapes and characters created by Saturday morning TV moguls Sid and Marty Krofft in the popular H.R. Pufnstuf.
The similarity hardly went unnoticed. The Kroffts successfully sued McDonald's, pointing out the resemblance such characters as Grimace (once a bad guy, later a lovable purple blob), Mayor McCheese and the hamburger-headed cop Big Mac had to their own creations.
The Jack-in-the-box head that sat atop drive-through speaker boxes at Jack In The Box restaurants have become a fully realized character over the years.
Here's what the company, in its official bio of the character, thinks you should know:
Jack's last name is ... Box.
According to Jack's California driver's license, he's 6'8" (without the hat) and weighs 195 pounds. His birthday is May 16.
Jack, fluent in English and Spanish, has starred in more than 2,200 English- and Spanish-language TV and radio ads since 1995.
The company has sold more than 28 million antenna balls and more than 5 million other premiums bearing Jack's likeness.
Geek trivia: Over the past 13 years, television audiences have met Jack's wife, Cricket, his son, Jack Jr., and his parents. And those paying close attention know Jack owns several classic cars, including a Dodge Viper.
McDonald's has a clown. One of its chief rivals sought to one-up its rubber-nosed spokesman with royalty.
The first Burger King restaurant, in Miami, featured the cartoon likeness of a chubby-faced monarch. In later drawings, he reclined on a throne made of a giant hamburger.
Later campaigns, geared toward kids, evolved the cartoon figure into a real-life, red-bearded monarch who makes TV and in-store appearances. His fantasy fiefdom friends included the valiant Sir Shake-a-Lot (not to be confused with Baby Got Back impresario Sir Mix-a-Lot) and The Duke of Doubt, who was always skeptical of any magical claims his ruler made.
In 2003, the Miami advertising firm Crispin Porter + Bogusky was retained by Burger King as a client. Using an old, oversized head mask of the old-school king they found on eBAY, the so-called "Creepy King" persona was created, going on to be a huge online hit and case study in viral marketing. In one infamous ad, a man awakens in bed to find The King lurking beside him.
In an effort to appeal to gamers, The King starred in three games created by Electronic Arts for Microsoft's X-box 360. Selling for $3.99, the games -- such as Sneak King -- earned mixed reviews.