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10 Parents, Kids and Spouses of Popular Advertising Characters

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You know the Pillsbury Doughboy, Elsie the Cow and Tony the Tiger, but many of the advertising mascots we know and love have lesser-known wives, husbands, kids and even parents. Pop a breath mint and be on your best behavior, because it's time to meet the families—and one who probably is family, paternity test pending.

1. The Pillsbury Doughboy has a huge family, all with awesome, pun-tastic names. The Doughboy himself is actually named Poppin' Fresh and his wife is named Poppie Fresh. They have two roly-poly children named Popper (the son) and Bun Bun (the daughter). There's also GrandPopper and GrandMommer, plus Biscuit the cat and Flapjack the dog. Every now and then, Uncle Rollie makes an appearance, and once, Poppin' Fresh's mother made him crescent rolls in a commercial.

2. Geoffrey the Giraffe has been instrumental in getting your kids to demand a stop at Toys "R" Us since the 1960s. Gigi is Geoffrey's wife. Geoffrey's daughter, Baby Gee, was introduced in 1973, followed by son Junior (a.k.a. Geoffrey Junior) in 1979.

An ad from 1965. Jamie via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

3. Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird (you know, he's cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs) gets his name because when he first appeared in commercials, he was accompanied by Gramps, an elderly bird who liked to tease him with the chocolate-y cereal. Gramps was eventually replaced by kids who tormented Sonny instead.

4. Elsie the Cow from Borden Dairies was "married" to Elmer the Bull from Elmer's Glue. Seriously! They were real-life animals at the Borden company that ended up representing Borden products. They even had babies, including Beulah, Beauregard and twins named Larabee and Lobelia.

5. Snap, Crackle and Pop, the Kellogg's Rice Krispies elves, have another brother named Pow. Pow was supposed to represent the explosive nutritional value of the cereal, but four elves proved to be too many cooks in the kitchen, and Pow was, um, detonated.

6. Tux, the adorable Linux penguin, has a female companion. Unsurprisingly, her name is Gown.

7. Jack Box (of, you guessed it, Jack in the Box) has been married to his lovely wife, Cricket, for many years, and they have a son named Jack Jr. and dog, Max.

8. Tony the Tiger has quite the family we don't often hear about. Right from the start, Tony had a son named Tony Jr., but we weren't introduced to the rest of the fam until the '70s, when Mama Tony, Mrs. Tony, and daughter Antoinette (not pictured) were given air time. Tony Jr. graduated to become the face of his own cereal in 1975—Frosted Rice—but it didn't last long.

Getty

9. RCA has been using Nipper the dog since way back when Nipper was hearing "His Master's Voice" come out of an Edison-Bell phonograph. He was based on a real dog by the same name (so-called because he bit everyone, which is charming) who died in 1895. Nipper's "son" Chipper started appearing in RCA ads in 1991.

10. As far as we know, Sprout is not the Jolly Green Giant's son. He's just an apprentice. An apprentice who happens to look like a miniature version of the big man himself. Hmm. There aren't exactly a lot of green giants running around the world for Sprout to have come from, and the other characters in the classic commercials are usually human farmers. Seems suspicious.

This piece originally ran in 2010.

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technology
The iMac Was Almost Called the MacMan
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After breaking out with its Macintosh line of personal computers in the 1980s, Apple was in a slump. Sales had flagged as Microsoft's Windows operating system made waves. In 1998, the company was set to unveil a product that it hoped would reinvigorate its brand.

And they almost blew it.

According to Ken Segall, the advertising genius behind their "Think Different" campaign, Apple founder Steve Jobs was expecting the iMac to reverse the company's ailing fortunes. Where older Macs had been boxy, beige, and bland, the iMac came in an assortment of colors and had a transparent chassis that showed off its circuitry. The problem, as Segall writes in his new book, Insanely Simple, was that Jobs didn't want to call it the iMac. He wanted to call it the MacMan.

"While that frightening name is banging around in your head, I'd like you to think for a moment about the art of product naming," Segall writes. "Because of all the things in this world that cry out for simplicity, product naming probably contains the most glaring examples of right and wrong. From some companies, you see names like 'iPhone.' From others you see names like ‘Casio G'zOne Commando' or the ‘Sony DVP SR200P/B' DVD player."

According to Segall, Jobs liked the fact that MacMan was slightly reminiscent of Sony's Walkman branding concept for its line of cassette players. (Later, Sony had a Discman, Pressman, and Talkman.) But Segall, who named products for a living, feared the name would take away from Apple's identity as being original. It was also gender-biased, and alienating an entire demographic of consumers was never a good thing.

Instead, Segall suggested "iMac," with the "i" for internet, because the unit was designed to connect easily to the web. Jobs "hated" the idea, along with other suggestions, even though Segall felt the iMac could provide a foundation to name other devices, just as Sony's Walkman had. Segall kept suggesting it, and Jobs eventually had it printed on a prototype model to see how it would look. After encouragement from his staff, he dropped MacMan. With this key contribution, Segall made sure no one would be lining up to buy a PhoneMan 10 years later. 

[h/t FastCoDesign]

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entertainment
The Bizarre Reason Burger King Wants to Keep It Out of Russia
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For decades, Burger King and McDonald’s have been engaged in one of the most competitive corporate rivalries in fast food history. In the 1980s, the two actually went to court over accusations about Burger King's sourcing and preparation of meats. In 2016, a BK restaurant in Queens, New York, was draped in sheets and made to look like the ghost of McDonald’s.

The sniping continues, but this time McDonald’s isn’t really involved. According to The Hollywood Reporter and coming our way via Eater, the Russian branch of Burger King has filed a complaint with the country’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) over the recent horror blockbuster It. The reason? They claim the movie’s evil clown, Pennywise, is so reminiscent of Ronald McDonald that the release will constitute an unfair advertising opportunity for their competitor.

While this sounds like either a prank or publicity stunt hatched by Burger King’s marketing arm, the FAS confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the burger chain did indeed request the movie be banned. That doesn’t mean it’s not a marketing ploy—there must be economic advantages to comparing a chief competitor’s mascot to a child-murdering clown—but it does offer some substance to the claim. The FAS told the outlet that it “can’t be concerned” with a fictional character in a movie that has nothing to do with hamburgers, but hasn’t made any final decision.

Owing to the recent scary-clown hysteria, McDonald’s has actually dialed down Ronald’s appearances in public over the past two years, which does raise suspicion over what he’s been doing with his downtime. It: Chapter Two is scheduled to infuriate Burger King even more when it’s released in 2019.

[h/t Eater]  

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