Brands and mascots are everywhere. Iconic mascots can launch a brand around the world making it instantly recognizable and creating a lasting staple in any culture. Growing up as a kid, you probably knew mascots like Ronald McDonald and Mickey Mouse before you could even count to 10.
The thing about these mascots is that they, just like people do, change over time. What is interesting here is how they have changed and morphed into what we know and see today. The original vision is something worth attention.
Althought H. Gene Miller was never credited for the original Aunt Jemima logo, he is the artist behind it . James J. Jaffee, who was a freelance artist from the Bronx, also drew one of the original images of Aunt Jemima in the mid 1900s. The inspiration for Aunt Jemima came from the idea of old southern hospitality romanticizing the view of antebellum plantation life and, from Billy Kersands’ “Old Aunt Jemima,” written in 1875.
The trademark dates back to 1893 however, the actual pancake mix entered the market in 1893. As the formula for the mix changed, so did Aunt Jemima’s image. She reached her 100th year anniversary in 1989 and was then updated in 1968 without the kerchief and added pearl earrings, resembling a modern homemaker.
Bibendum a.k.a. The Michelin Man, was introduced in 1894 and is one of the world’s longest standing trademarks. Not surprisingly, Bibendum was inspired by a stack of tires when Édouard and André Michelin attended the Universal and Colonial Exposition in Lyon.
Together with French cartoonist Marius Rossillon (O’Galop), Bibendum (The Michelin Man) was born. Overtime, his shape transformed. Originally O’Galop’s logo was based on bicycle tires, pince-nez glasses with lanyard, and a cigar. By the late 90s, for Bb’s 100th anniversary, a non smoking, slimmed-down version emerged with smaller tires for modern cars.
Mr. Clean, owned by Proctor & Gamble, was originally created in the art department at an advertising agency (so Madmen, right?) and is not genie, although many think that. His signature look is his bald head, tanned built physique, folded arms, and single earring. The original model for the image of Mr. Clean was a United States Navy sailor based in Pensacola, Florida. The first actor to portray Mr. Clean in live action television commercials was House Peters, Jr.
Mr. Potato Head was original BYOP
This iconic American toy by Hasbro was first manufactured in 1952. Unbeknownst to many, Mr. Potato Head was originally produced using separate plastic parts with pushpins that could be stuck into a real potato or any other vegetable. But, due to complaints regarding rotting vegetables and new government safety regulations, Hasbro began including a plastic potato body within the toy set in 1964.
Rich Uncle Pennybags a.k.a. Mr. Monopoly made his debut in 1936 on Chance and Community Chest cards and was created by Dan Fox who remained a mystery up until 2013. Mr. Monopoly, before earning his name, appeared in the Parker Brothers’ Dig, in 1940 and was officially named Rich uncle in 1946. He has since influenced popular culture tremendously.
Born in 1965, the Pillsbury Doughboy, created by Rudy Perz at an advertising agency, is a not only an icon but easily the most recognizable mascot around. It is said that while Mr. Perz was under pressure to create an advertising campaign for Pillsbury dough, he created a dough boy from rolls and gave him a scarf, a chef’s hat, two large eyes, blush, and a soft warm chuckle anytime he was poked in the stomach.
Edwin Perkins is the brains behind Kool-Aid and concocted the famous drink in his mother’s kitchen. The Kool-Aid man character was introduced after General Foods acquired the brand in the 1950s and began running TV and print ads thereafter. As he randomly broke through walls in children’s homes, his instant tag line became, “Oh Yeah!”
He was orginally referred to as the Pitcher Man until General Foods sought out to create the slogan, “A 5-cent package makes two quarts.” After watching his son drawing smiley faces on frosted windows, it was then that Marvin Potts, an art director from New York, had borne the Pitcher Man.
Willard Scott claims that he created Ronald McDonald in 1963 according this excerpt from his book Joy of Living: “At the time, Bozo was the hottest children’s show on the air. You could probably have sent Pluto the Dog or Dumbo the Elephant over and it would have been equally as successful. But I was there, and I was Bozo …
There was something about the combination of hamburgers and Bozo that was irresistible to kids … That’s why when Bozo went off the air a few years later, the local McDonald’s people asked me to come up with a new character to take Bozo’s place. So, I sat down and created Ronald McDonald.”
“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” —Walt Disney, Disneyland; October 27, 1954.
Walt and Ub Iwerks created Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney Studios in 1928 in which Mickey officially made his debut in the short film Steamboat Willie. The design of the iconic mouse started off with simple circles so that it could easily be animated. Mickey’s circular ears makes him the most easily recognizable character on earth. Later, in 1938, animator Fred Moore redesigned Mickey’s body away from its circular design to a pear-shape design. Since then, Mickey’s image has continuously evolved. For a thorough and in-depth history.