Friday, July 15, 2016


Recently, Dos Equis Beer announced that it was retiring the popular character in their commercials known as "The Most Exciting Man In the World." The character, played by actor Johnathan Silverman, became popular outside the advertising world as well, inspiring Internet memes and T-shirts. Just because he took off into space in the last commercial doesn't mean he wont be back. Several famous advertising character have come back over the years, some in different forms.

COLONEL SANDERS - Colonel Harlan Sanders (above) was a real person, who appeared in commercials and even cameo appearances in movies promoting Kentucky Fried Chicken. He died in 1980. In the 1990's, KFC (as they were calling themselves) used a cartoon version of the Colonel, voiced by Richard Paul, from the short-lived 70s sitcom, Carter Country, and the movie, People VS Larry Flynt. When Paul died, the cartoon Colonel disappeared. Recently a new series of commercials featuring featuring a rotating comedians (Darrell Hammond, Norm McDonald and Jim Gaffigan) portraying the Colonel have been running on TV.

MR. CLEAN - Mr. Clean was first introduced in animated form with his catching jingle. In the mid 60s, he appeared in the persona of a live person interacting with people. Two actors, House Peters and Mark Dana (above), are credited with playing him. He returned to animated form and some recent ads have shown him in his formative years as a baby and small boy (bottom photo).

THE MARVELOUS MAGICAL BURGER KING - In the late 70s, Burger King introduced a live action character called to compete with Ronald McDonald and the McDonaldland characters. They created a dashing, red headed, bearded, Tudor-era king, who could perform magic, played by actor Fred Barton. When the chains began adding playgrounds to their restaurants, they featured giant plastic sculptures of the Burger King. The company stopped using the character in the late 80s. In 2003, someone at the Crispin Porter + Bogusky ad agency came up with the idea of having someone wear one of the giant plastic Burger Kings (bottom photo) in a commercial. From 2003 to 2011 these ads ran. However, when the company switched agencies, the giant plastic Burger King was dropped because "mother said it frightened their children. WHATEVER!

MAN FROM GLAD - I've mentioned it before that one of my favorite TV shows is The Man From U.N.C.L.E. During the initial run of the series, Glad came up with the Man from Glad, a white haired and white suited hero, who arrived in fantastic vehicle with a blaring siren ("Calling the Man from Glad! Calling the Man from Glad!") and jazzy music, to save housewives with various Glad products. The character was never player by the same actor (not sure who the actor in the photo is). The producers of the Man from UNCLE even poked fun at the character in an episode called "The Prince of Darkness Affair" (released to movie theaters as The Helicopter Spies) featuring a cult of killers with white hair. The character was retired after the Man From UNCLE was cancelled. In the 70s, Glad briefly brought the character back with comedian Dick Shawn playing him as a klutz. I was surprised to find in my research that the Man from Glad came back a few years ago in a series of ads that appeared on daytime TV. Still with white hair and white suit, he was now a soft spoken fellow giving cooking tips using Glad products. From campy secret agent-superhero parody to Food Network host wannabe.

THE QANTAS KOALA - This was one of my favorite character from my childhood and they ruined him. Beginning in the mid 60s, Qantas ran commercials featuring a real koala watching Qantas planes land bringing tourist to Australia. The koala would explain how a these people were taking advantage of the bargain prices of Qantas flights to Australia. Then he would whine about tourist taking photos of him and staring at him. He would whimper "I hate Qantas" and use the phrase "un-bear-able." The voice of the koala belonged to actor Howard Morris, who not only was the voice of several cartoon characters, but appeared in several Mel brooks films and had the recurring role of Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show. One from of the commercials of the 70s shows the koala in a huge Qantas plane with a buffet and cocktail lounge in the back! I found some recent ads. The new ads feature an anima-tronic koala with a Australian accent. He also has a different attitude. He is now a brownnoser for Qantas. He brags about how wonderful the flights are with adjustable seats, snacks and headphones, yet he and the other passengers seemed to be crammed in like sardines. In one spot, he seems to be sitting on a sleeping woman's chest. I'm not sure if these new commercials are to be ironic humor based on the sad state of air travel or the company just doesn't get it. Before they brought back the koala, Qantas commercials featured a loud, drunken, redneck character. Now I really do hate Qantas.

So don't count the Most Interesting Man out, because a good pitchman may come back.

1 comment:

Pam@GoRetro said...

Great post. I'm disappointed to hear "The Most Interesting Man in the World" is being retired. Perhaps the actor playing him is really the one that wants to retire.

I didn't know that there was a "Man from Glad" -- I'll have to look up the ads. Also, I'm not a fan of the computer generated versions of advertising mascots that are so popular today -- I like them stop motion or played by actual actors.

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