13 Famous Advertising Mascots and Their Business Origins

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When done right, advertising mascots become beloved, genuine characters. These advertising mascots not only help sell the products, but they become something meaningful to the culture. A business can greatly boost their marketing efforts if they made a custom mascot that represents the company.

For inspiration, here are thirteen famous advertising mascots and the companies that they represent:

1. Geico Gecko

Geico Gecko is one of the most famous advertising mascots that appeared in countless commercials. This lively reptilian was first brought to prominence in commercials in the late 1990s.

The original concept behind the gecko mascot was the confusion in name between ‘gecko’ and ‘geico’, with the Geico Gecko advising the audience to stop contacting him searching for insurance. An unexpected hit with audiences, he’s been used in a variety of ways ever since then.

2. Jolly Green Giant

The Jolly Green Giant is a famous advertising mascot for the Green Giant corporation, specializing in the sale of canned and frozen vegetables. The Jolly Green Giant as undergone various design changes following introduction in 1903.

Over the years, he survived as an advertising mascot from his strength and the rise in interest of consuming vegetables in the era of high-fat, high-carb, unhealthy eating.

3. Pillsbury Doughboy

AKA Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy is a famous advertising mascot that has been on screens advertising for the Pillsbury Company since the mid-1960s. The character is simple, direct, and is tagged with the characteristic human finger poking him in the stomach to let out his laugh.

4. Mr. Peanut

Mr. Peanut is the advertising mascot for Planters. He is a peanut in its shell dressed in formal clothing, equipped with the style of an old-fashioned gentleman. The top hat and monocle design’s proven to be a hit over the last 100 years.

The most recent adaptation of Mr. Peanut involved killing off the character for this year’s Super Bowl commercial campaign. It remain to be seen if, when, or where we might see the mascot next.

5. Tony the Tiger

Breakfast cereals are no stranger to advertising mascots. Tony the Tiger first hit the airwaves in 1952, advertising for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. He’s adorned packaging, done radio and TV commercials, and been used extensively in various cross-promotional campaigns.

6. Kool-Aid Man

The Kool-Aid Man is a fun-loving, overly large, anthropomorphic pitcher overfilled with red juice. He’s always there with a smile on his face, is known to answer the call of his name by smashing through a wall, and uses the catchphrase, “Oh yeah!”.

The Kool-Aid Man is a uniquely diverse advertising mascot that has become American iconography, featured everywhere from the Museum of Modern At to episodes of Family Guy.

7. The Energizer Bunny

The Energizer Bunny was an advertising mascot first introduced in 1988 and featured prominently for decades in the United States. A pink mechanical bunny toy wearing sunglasses, flip flops, and a bass drum branded with the Energizer brand. It’s simple, iconic, and generated millions in sales for Energizer.

8. Mr. Clean

Mr. Clean is a Procter & Gamble owned advertising mascot used to advertise all-purpose cleaners. Originally designed as a cleaning businessman, he’s since identified merely by the Caucasian, bald, white shirt look he adopts.

Mr. Clean made his television debut in 1958. Six months later, Mr. Clean was the best-selling household cleaner in America. He continues to be used today.

9. Colonel Sanders

Colonel Sanders is one of the few advertising mascots on this list who was once a real human being. The real Colonel Sanders passed away in 1980 but long before and ever since, the Colonel’s been KFC’s brand ambassador and symbol.

For all the criticism KFC received over decades of operations, their advertising mascot is unquestionably one of the most recognizable in fast food.

10. M&M Characters

The talking M&Ms have proven to be a favourite advertising mascot since they were first adopted by the candy corporation in the mid-1990s. Originally conceptualized as a branded adaptation of the 1980s-era California Raisins, the M&Ms have gone on to be so much more. You almost can’t picture M&Ms without those iconic multi-color eyes, lips, and M-covered stomachs.

11. Snap, Crackle and Pop

Snap, Crackle and Pop are the famous threesome behind Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal. Another Kellogg creation, Snap, Crackle and Pop are based off a gnome design from the 1930s.

Fun fact: There was a fourth character introduced in the 1950s alongside the popular three named Pow who was meant to represent the nutritional value of Rice Krispies. Needless to say, he didn’t take.

12. Toucan Sam

Toucan Sam is the Froot Loops advertising mascot. Exhibiting the ability to smell Froot Loops from vast distances, he’s been presented in commercials since the 1960s and has been a hit among children. The characteristic scent of the sugary fruity breakfast cereal is instantly reminisced on when Toucan Sam appears on screen, almost like sensory memory.

13. Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear is the most successful non-profit advertising mascot in history. A production of the Forest Service, Smokey Bear is all about forest fire prevention and conservation.

It is the longest-running public service announcement campaign in US history, having begun in 1944. Smokey Bear’s classic line, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”, has seen some changes over the years however has always remained the same in spirit.

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