And on the seventh day, God rested. But not EW’s Big Shill bracket game. Which is apropos when you think about it: Always be selling! Today’s matchups in the advertising mascot throwdown are about as equally matched as they come: In the Creatures Division, you’ve got Hawaiian Punch’s Punchy vs. Kool-Aid Man, and Tony the Tiger vs. Joe Camel (sorry, kids). In the Human and the Human-Like division, it’s a battle between cute children (“the Pepsi Girl” Hallie Kate Eisenberg and Life cereal’s Mikey) and grumpy old men (Dunkin Donuts’ Fred the Baker and Charmin’s Mr. Whipple). Check out the entire Big Shill bracket here, and then get to voting. After the jump, we break it down for you, one bout at a time…
Product: Hawaiian Punch
Debut year: 1961
Catchphrase: “How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?”
Claim to fame: After saying said catchphrase, he would punch the agreeable tourist Opie, pictured. Also, that thing on his head, which is a hat (it’s on Hawaiian Punch’s FAQ).
Strength: Clearly, his sense of humor. Also, his ability to adapt: Just yesterday, The Wall Street Journal ran a story saying he’ll sport a new 3-D surfer look in packaging and on Internet campaigns starting next month to appeal to the target audience, 13-year-olds. It seems Hawaiian Punch has thrived during the recession.
Weakness: “Punchy will no longer sock his unsuspecting sidekick with a punch. His coiled fist was replaced with a ‘hang-ten’ hand gesture, and his attitude is more energetic than laid-back,” WSJ reports. I think 13-year-olds appreciate subversive, physical comedy. Also, he’s rather terrifying when turned into a live-action figure. Easily upstaged by Donny & Marie (though they remained close enough to spend the holidays together).
Debut year: 1975 (before that, he was “Pitcher Man,” a pitcher of Kool-Aid sans legs)
Catchphrase: “Oh, yeah!”
Strength: He’s far more agile than you’d expect. He’s still keeping it fresh after all these years — his made his debut as a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2010.
Weakness: Still, we’re pretty sure we can outrun him. And we have a hard time believing his eyesight is good.
TONY THE TIGER
Product: Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes
Debut year: 1951
Catchphrase: “They’re Grrrreat!”
Claim to fame: He brings out the tiger in you. He beat out three other potential mascots for the long-term gig: Katy the Kangaroo, Newt the Gnu, and Elmo the Elephant.
Strength: He’s got a great voice. He knows the value of a good breakfast — and patience. He would only let the children with him accept physical challenges after they ate the cereal. (Watch Tony and Jerry O’Connell bobsled.)
Weakness: Adults may have grown to love the taste, but Tony seems to take a backseat when they’re the target demo.
Product: Camel cigarettes
Debut Year: 1987
Claim to fame: In 1991, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that approximately 30 percent of 3-year-old children correctly matched Old Joe, as he is officially known, with a picture of a cigarettes, and that the number rose to 91 percent when the subjects were 6-year-olds. Though R. J. Reynolds always denied it was marketing cigarettes to children too young to purchase them legally (it said its target was men 25-49 and current Marlboro smokers), it bowed to pressure and ended the campaign in 1997, when the Federal Trade Commission charged it violated federal law.
Strength: He could look as cool as Don Johnson did in his prime. Flyboy and racecar driver Joe Camel are pretty damn hot.
Weakness: If you’re that cool, you don’t have to draw attention to it with the words “Smooth Character” on print ads. Also, his fashion choices were occasionally suspect (palm tree sunglasses and a gold chain, Joe, really?).
(Note: The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1970 banned all cigarette ads from television and radio, so Joe Camel was a print ad mascot only.)
“THE PEPSI GIRL” HALLIE KATE EISENBERG
Debut Year: 1998
Claim to fame: “The Joy of Cola” campaign had the sweet, curly-haired youngster, who could tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke, channeling the likes of Marlin Brando (watch below), Joe Pesci, and Aretha Franklin when she didn’t get the one she wanted.
Strength: Those dimples. Could she be any cuter? Even at that age, she looked smart. (It runs in the family: The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg is her brother).
Weakness: Her acting was solid, but the lip-synching wasn’t perfect.
Product: Life cereal
Debut Year: 1972
Catchphrase: He didn’t have one, but his older brothers sure did. (“He likes it! Hey, Mikey!”)
Claim to fame: He hates everything, but he surprises his older brothers by devouring Life cereal. The original ad, named one of TV Guide‘s greatest 50 commercials of all time, was so popular, it ran for more than a decade.
Strength: Apparently, a very discernible palette.
Weakness: He didn’t actually speak. Some people still probably think the actor that played him, John Gilchrist, exploded after chasing Pop Rocks with Coke.
FRED THE BAKER
Product: Dunkin’ Donuts
Debut Year: 1982
Catchphrase: “Time to make the donuts!”
Claim to fame: For 15 years, actor Michael Vale starred in commercials as Fred the Baker, who rose at 4 a.m. to make us delicious donuts that were more delicious than anything you could buy in a supermarket.
Strength: Americans so identified with the workaholic, Dunkin’ Donuts had to ease him out in 1997, running ads in which folks like Bob Dole, Larry Bird and Sugar Ray Leonard gave him advice on retirement.
Weakness: Apparently, he was a little too one note: He was retired because Dunkin’ Donuts wanted us to know it also makes coffee, bagels, and danish.
Debut Year: 1964
Catchphrase: “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin!”
Claim to fame: Playing George the Grocer, a.k.a. Mr. Whipple, for more than 20 years, actor Dick Wilson filmed more than 500 commercials promoting the toilet paper’s “squeezable softness.” In 1978, Mr. Whipple was named the third-best-known American — just behind former President Nixon and Billy Graham.
Strength: Certainly persistent. The joke was he couldn’t resist squeezing the Charmin either — really humanizes him, you know.
Weakness: Wouldn’t letting customers squeeze the Charmin and feel the softness actually encourage them to buy it from his store? Bad businessman.