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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you no doubt have a smorgasbord of memories, ranging from youth to adulthood, of universally known, brand-based icons. Do you think of Tony the Tiger? Perhaps the Jolly Green Giant or Mr. Clean? Maybe you’re thinking of some long-forgotten icon such as the elusive yet memorable Boo Berry, the antiquated Speedy Alka Seltzer or the frantic Noid. Regardless of the brand, each and every icon has inspired not only memories and connections to products, but also been the catalysts of highly successful advertising campaigns.
The simple truth is that these icons have become ingrained not only in the brands they represent, but also pop culture to the point where we automatically connect them.
Psychologically and socially speaking, it’s intriguing to see how these icons have evolved (and aged gracefully) over time. Tony the Tiger, for example, used to buddy up with his son during his earlier incarnations. Currently, with his family MIA, he encourages human children to get out and be more active while also readily participating in teamwork. The messages of Mr. Clean and the Jolly Green Giant haven’t entirely changed with time’s progression, though their overall appearances have received multiple upgrades.
It’s not difficult to see that public relations, marketing and advertising work closely together toward an ideal shared result. After all, it takes a strong, memorable icon to positively represent a brand and promote it effectively. The best icons have grown beyond the confines of their brands and coexist in pop culture as well.
Unfortunately, there are generally clear indicators as to why an icon will vanish from a brand’s stage. Was it not connecting with consumers enough? Did it make children or grown men weep out of fear? Or will the icon return after an unknown number of years to become revitalized and reapplied? And how much does your opinion matter? Looking back over the decades, its surprising to see just how many icons have fallen out of the public eye. Who will fall next? I’m looking at you, Snuggle… you adorable bear, you.