The Nostalgic, Vibrant World of Advertising Mascots

By
Share:

Most of us have fond memories from our childhood about the advertising mascots splashed across the boxes and packaging of our favorite cereals, toys, and more. Pop culture historian Warren Dotz has researched and collected those offbeat characters and brand icons in two beautiful books, the new Mr. Product: The Graphic Art of Advertising’s Magnificent Mascots 1960–1985 and the recently re-published Meet Mr. Product: The Art of the Advertising Character .

These colorful creations are absolute eye candy — and, as the author told us, the mascots are fascinating to study “because they lie at the intersection of business, design, and the modern mythology of pop culture.” Meet Bob’s Big Boy — repping the Southern California-born restaurant chain where David Lynch used to guzzle coffee and draft his ideas — Goofy Grape, and familiar faces like Cap’n Crunch and Elsie the Cow. Dotz told us: “The most curious, offbeat and interesting characters happen to be the ones that were not bankrolled by major corporations. They were less ‘filtered’ or ‘focus-grouped,’ but are definitely the overwhelming favorites of the pop culture enthusiasts and graphic designers who buy the books.” In other words, don’t be surprised at the morbid undertones behind “Chokey the Smog Dog.”

Mr. Product and Meet Mr. Product are fantastic sources of artistic inspiration and nostalgic pop culture encyclopedias of the images and ads that stay with us through a lifetime.

Meet Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“Air freshener superhero and suit-wearing, living padlock are great examples of anthropomorphized product art.”

Meet Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“Mechanical men were a popular type of ad character in the ’40 and ’50s, often straight from the business owner’s imagination to the artist’s drawing board.”

Meet Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“They don’t make pet food labels like this anymore. Piggy Snax is frying up some pork rinds — a bit unsettling when you think about it.”

Meet Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“The baby boomers of the ’60s had an ad character for almost any drink.”

Meet Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“There was a time in the United States that cap-wearing servicemen filled your gas, changed your tires, and checked your spark plugs.”

Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“Happy-faced fruits and a delightful tropical-themed soda can. These are some of my favorite images from Mr. Product.”

Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“The ’60s and ’70s changed the look of some characters. I would be eating more donuts if the Dunkin Munchkins were still around.”

Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“Current events such as the 1960’s Space Race sent previously Earth-bound characters skyward.”

Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“Advertisers looking to identify their foodstuffs and products with superpowers designed these campy and not-so-super heroes to do the job.”

Mr. Product Copyright © Warren Dotz 2015

“Although by far not my favorite brand mascots, this poster of the Campbell’s Kids — half Peter Max and half Andy Warhol — is my favorite image in the book.”